A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford Click the flash player below to listen to or the mic to download an mp3 copy of this BA Radio commentary.
Nightriding white terrorists are not confined to the South. They also roam the streets of New York City, in search of Black victims. The election of 2008 was especially rough for Up South white supremacists. Barack Obama's victory provoked four young New Yorkers to go on a Black-bashing spree that last week earned them serious prison time.
“Coon Huntin’” in New York City
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“They piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world.”
White folks used to call it “coon hunting” – terrorism as community sport. I’ve witnessed it myself: caravans of cars filled with white men in varying stages of drunkenness cruising country highways or the fringes of Black neighborhoods, in search of victims. In the Deep South, such “coon hunting” parties were not necessarily hitched to any special occasion or specific racial incident; any excuse would do to demonstrate that Blacks’ very existence in a White Man’s Country was a privilege that could be arbitrarily and violently revoked at any time.
“Coon hunting” and related white racist rituals were never confined to below the Mason-Dixon Line. New York City contains enclaves of entrenched bigotry as concentrated and vicious as anyplace in Dixie. Last November, on learning that Barack Obama had won the presidential election, four young white men in Staten Island – the whitest of New York City’s boroughs – piled into a car on a mission to show African Americans that whites were still boss in that part of the world. They drove to a Black neighborhood, found a teenager walking by himself, and beat him with a metal pipe and a police baton. Not satisfied, they assaulted a Black man in another minority neighborhood, and drove off in search of a third victim. This time, they slammed their car into a man they thought was African American, but who turned out not to be. The victim’s head smashed the car’s windshield, and he stayed in a coma for weeks.
“The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama.”
The four whites were last week sentencedto from four and one/half to seven years in federal prison. Loretta King, of the U.S. Justice Department, said the Civil Rights Division “will remain vigilant in our efforts to combat hate crimes.” Republicans in Congress continue to quibble about what constitutes a “hate crime,” who specifically should be protected from such crimes, and the circumstances in which the federal government can intervene. But the case from Staten Island, New York, certainly fits anyone’s definition of a hate crime that threatened federally protected rights. But it also says a lot more. The four young white men admitted they set out to punish people they assumed had voted for Barack Obama. But of course, they didn’t ask their victims who they voted for, or if they had voted at all, and one of them wasn’t even an African American. What these night-riders resented was the very presence of non-whites in Staten Island, or New York City, or in positions of prominence anywhere in the United States. They are terrorists whose hatred of Black people is general and uncomplicated – and renders them unfit to circulate freely in society.
It is also interesting to note that these modern, New York City, “Up South” terrorist nightriders’ surnames are Nicoletti, Garaventa, Contreras, and Carranza. They’re not the good ol' boys of your grandparents’ experience. But they’re just as dangerous.
Oscar Grant was murdered by a transit cop on a Bay Area subway platform before hundreds of witnesses. To enable his killer to go free, he had to be murdered again and again in the media and the courts. This book, coming in January, tells the story of these multiple murders.
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