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Face Down

"Face Down" by Dee Allen

Smashed vehicle windows
Cannot scream.
Burning dumpsters
Cannot unleash their agony into the smoky evening sky.
Neither damaged
T-Mobile nor
McDonald’s nor
Wells Fargo
Can feel pain.
Underground subways
Cannot fight their sudden closure.
So there’s no need to wring hands & agonise

Over property destruction.

Demolished property
Can be replaced.
The once
Full lives
Taken by law enforcement
Never are.

Brutality, never an “accident”.
It’s systemic
And replicates itself
In different cities to the nth degree.

Stony hearts blame such handiwork
On “a few bad apples”.
And everyone knows
How that tired old maxim goes.

Tell that to the last
Victim inside the chalkline.

Reason for anger,
Cause for alarm,
Millions have seen.
Father of one,
Age 22.
First cruel hours
Of the new year.
Young witnesses.
Four cops.
Face down.
Cold concrete.
Hot lead.
Close range.
Loud boom.
Here lies
Father of one,
Age 22.

Face down.
Subway platform
Was the killing field.

The truth cannot be erased,
Try as the guilty might,
Covering their crime.

Father of one,
Age 22.
His name joins
A seemingly endless
Sea of names,
Compendium of martyrs

To their same last sights:
Uniforms & weapons drawn.
Needless State violence
Upon the unarmed.
A little Black girl of four
In Hayward goes to bed
Without her father tucking her in.
A Brown woman sleeps
Without her lover’s face to awaken to the next morning.

Reason for anger,
Cause for alarm.
The powderkeg
Called Oakland exploded twice.
Now that a legitimised
Slayer has been captured & released
Into the general public on bail,
A new explosion looms over the future’s horizon.

More fire
Put to the ‘keg.
Perhaps the murderer’s protectors
Will take notice this time
Because that young father they’ve targeted
Was one of us------

He could’ve been anyone

Anyone’s son, anyone’s brother,
Anyone’s neighbour, anyone’s friend
Anyone Black & Brown
Could be the one in submission, lying face down
In the path of a lethal device
Engineering their quick demise.
[For Oscar Grant III-----1986-2009]

Dee Allen is a local poetry writer, spoken word
performer and activist from San Francisco.

"This was the best way I could pay homage to the memory of a African working-class man
from Hayward. Considering what he went through minutes before his death at the hands of Bay Area Rapid Transit police officers Mersehle and Pirone [that one should've been indicted and punished two months ago]. The outpouring of community support needs to continue, nationally and locally. The fight against police brutality and corruption needs to continue. Bay Area Rapid Transit's management needs to know that the public will not forget this act of violence committed by their own officers on those who depend on their subway train system for transportation. No community--Black, Brown or White--needs anymore young sacrificial lambs slaughtered because of some cop's racist/classist
powertrip." - Dee Allen


The Oscar Grant Memorial Arts Project is Co-Sponsored by Media Alliance