Tell me something what you think would happen if everytime they kill a black boy then we kill a cop everytime they kill a black man then we kill a cop
—June Jordan, "Poem About Police Violence"
Legendary poet and activist June Jordan, who grew up in Bed-Stuy, wrote these incendiary lines in protest of the police murder of Arthur Miller, a beloved Black businessman and community leader in Crown Heights, in June of 1978. Miller, who was attempting to help his brother in a dispute with the police over a purportedly suspended driver's license, was choked to death by a nightstick. “Mr. Miller was the first ‘I can’t breathe’ in modern times,” said Borough President Eric Adams. Miller's death sparked a summer of protests, but predictably, none of the officers involved were indicted, which prompted Jordan to write,
I lose consciousness of ugly bestial rabid and repetitive affront as when they tell me 18 cops in order to subdue one man 18 strangled him to death in the ensuing scuffle (don't you idolize the diction of the powerful: subdue and scuffle my oh my) and that the murder that the killing of Arthur Miller on a Brooklyn street was just a "justifiable accident" again (again)
We celebrate June Jordan with #80 to commemorate the publication of "Poem About Police Violence" in her pivotal 1980 collection Passion (dedicated to "Everybody scared as I used to be"), one of the essential poems of Brooklyn and one of the most incisive protest poems in American letters, speaking out against a problem that sadly remains all too familiar today.
Screen printed locally at Pete's Print Shop in Greenpoint on Alternative Apparel keeper vintage jersey tees for a luxurious softness. 50% cotton / 50% polyester. Bound collar and blind stitching on sleeves and bottom hem. Tear-away tag.