I Watched the Sun Set on America


The sun has just set on America
I watched it
from the furthest point west
that I could bike to
in San Francisco.

Today, another black man’s killer
has been set free
with no criminal charges
commended for his actions
by the fraternal order of police.
There’s an energy in the air
that’s full of empathy
for all the oppressed people
like Eric Garner or Michael Brown or Trayvon Martin or Tamir Rice or Oscar Grant or Rodney King
(or the long list of young people of color
who have died at the hands of police
during the 27 years I have been alive
that just goes on and on and on)
and lose their lives
for no reason
in this supposedly democratic society.

Tonight, the streets of Oakland
will be filled with protestors
who set fires, smash the banks, and take the highways.
This is a generation
that has grown up
during a silent revolution
that can’t remain quiet any longer.

The people cry,
“No justice, no peace.”
And they ask,
“Why are we still having to fight against this?
“Don’t people understand black lives matter?”
Their parents ask, “Yeah, what about the 60s?”
But Haight Street is quiet tonight
Its history of civil disobedience
and cultural creativity
has been replaced by retail stores
and overpriced rent fees.
Instead the protests
will be on the streets
of the disenfranchised
the desolate
the starving
the noble underbelly
that just can’t take it any longer.

They ask,
“Isn’t it time we ended this institutionalized racism?
“These hate crimes?
“These steps backwards in history?
“Isn’t it time we ended this brutality?”

The police feign fear
They are trained to be scared of the people
that they “serve and protect”
the people of color
the people that are “different”
scared of college students and working men and women
of fathers, husbands, wives, and mothers
of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.
They are conditioned to believe that every person secretly carries a gun
when in fact the only people
who control the weapons
are the police themselves.

The protestors, they ask for accountability
for the same law to be held for every citizen
They want these hired brutes
to recognize
their abuses of power
will be taken no longer
The people have had enough
It’s time for change
Take the guns out of the pigs’ hands
teach them how to use their words instead
These “keepers of the peace”
need to learn to de-escalate a situation
and not be so trigger happy
If any one of them steps over the line
Fire them,
lock them up,
at the very least
they’ve committed manslaughter
and they should stand a fair trial
like anyone else would in this land

Our civilization relies on the courts
upkeeping the laws we all live by
Until these demands of fairness are met,
there will continue to be unrest on the streets.
End the drug war!
End police brutality!
End the war on the people you’re supposed to serve!


I Watched the Sun Set on America

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