Deconstructing the roots of
The black n gray suits
with hands in the Loot
That has buried the truth
About our black, brown and disabled youth
— excerpt from KKKourt by Tiny
OPINION On the first day of Black Herstory Minute (I mean, Month), I practiced black herstory, and walked through activism and breathed organizing and lived resistance by putting my body in the benches belonging to the criminal injustice system (a.k.a. the plantation) at 850 Bryant. I was there to support a struggle against injustice in the case of a young African warrior for truth, Fly Benzo, a.k.a. Debray Carpenter — student, son, media producer, organizer, and hip-hop artist who is facing a felony charge, jail sentence and $95,000 fine for nothing more than exercising his First Amendment right to free speech.
How many among you, overwhelmed with multiple Face-crack postings and a cacophony of tweets, might have missed the story of Fly, who spoke the truth about racism, police brutality and the unjust death of Kenneth Harding Jr. to a cop in a poor-people-of-color neighborhood, Bayview, which is under seize from the occupying army known as the police (or po’lice as we call them at POOR Magazine)?
As a woman criminalized and incarcerated for the sole act of being poor and houseless, the melanin-challenged daughter of a poor black single mother who spent all of her life in poverty and in struggle, I have witnessed first hand unequal justice against people of color and poor people. It’s a fact that remains, in 2012, still a very dire reality.
“They arrested me for exercising my Constitutional right to free speech,” said Benzo, 22.
Benzo’s revolution began when he was born to conscious African-descendant parents who, like many African descendant people in San Francisco, have been under the constant threat of removal, displacement, redlining, and ongoing police harassment for decades. He has been speaking out about injustices since he was a teen, starting with the fact that hardly any Bayview residents were hired to construct the multi-million-dollar T-Train that runs from downtown to Third Street — and the dramatic rise in the violent policing of the T-Train and the Muni bus lines that run through the poor communities of color in S.F.
But the beginning of Benzo’s current battle with the criminal injustice system began when he began to speak up about Harding, murdered by San Francisco police officers for not having a $2 dollar bus transfer. The judge might not admit the video that was taken at the scene of Benzo’s arrest, making his case all the more difficult to fight, and the truth all the more difficult to hear and see, which is where community support comes in.
A lot of people and organizers and politricksters talk about stopping the violence and how to “deal” with the inequities of racism and classism and violence on our youth of color. And yet when this brother spoke out, used his voice for nothing but truth and resistance about injustices he personally experiences everyday, who comes out to support him?
Practicing revolutionaries at POOR Magazine, the Idriss Stelly Foundation, The BayView Newspaper, Education not Incarceration, and United Playaz have been there, as well as his hard-working attorney, Severa Keith, and a few more. But we all need to be there, fighting for a very alive, very revolutionary, young truth-teller who is making black history, every day.
Tiny, a.k.a. Lisa Gray-Garcia, is an editor at POOR Magazine. Opening statements in the trial of Debray Carpenter are expected to begin Feb. 8 in Dept. 27.