We Want Answers And We Want Them Now: #Justice4BrandonSmith

It’s one thing for a man to die…..but it’s another thing for him to die in custody of the police, who FAILED to render medical EMERGENCY care when he actually needed it and screamed out in pain. 

When Brandon Smith was approached by a SacPD officer, he was barely conscious on the lobby floor of Volunteers of America’s detox center, with probation officers on the scene and neither decided to call an ambulance.  So many people wonder why?  What was there to hide?  The questions keep mounting and as each day passes, the reality continues to set in that Black folks here in Sacramento are prohibited from the same respect and concern afforded to other citizens.  There is no way around the FACT that this town and its agencies are ANTI-BLACK.

Neither agency felt Brandon was worthy enough for medical assistance, something outside of their scope of expertise.  One could even question, what are they experts at anyway?  If on their watch they fail to act with HUMANITY…..how can our community trust they are in positions and/or adequately trained to PROTECT and SERVE?   With each incident, their hands get bloodier and bloodier, and the gaping hole that divides the reality of TWO AMERICAS gets wider and wider.

See it’s REPEATED and systematic callous and RACIST decisions that agencies make to dump Black bodies onto the next agency, so that the job they’re assigned and paid (BTW….with taxpayer dollars) will be made easier.  At the end of the day, what we are talking about is COPABILITY.  How too often one’s past haunts their future? 

One arm of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) is parole and probation, and they manage parolees and requirements imposed by the courts.  Brandon had served his debt to society and his past was something he was trying to get beyond.  See, in many instances one’s past will determine how people and agencies, especially the police treat and take advantage of you.  Often times and especially if you are Black, your past sets a standard for ill will and disdain for every future encounter with law enforcement and the court system, as well with gaining employment, housing, health care and an ability to bounce back successfully.....all of which hinders one’s ability to just live.  The crux of the problem can be summed up in one question, “Can We Live?”

Well this is the story of Brandon Smith and so many other Black men in this country, who are treated with contempt because the eyes of the system are blind to the value and worth they/we bring to the table.  It is the continued mental and physical enslavement that keeps Black folks in a cycle of oppression, depression and trauma.  These deeply distressing and disturbing experiences are synonymous with physical injury, damage and an open wound that bleeds and oozes with puss.  It is in the state of infection that prevents healing, coupled with the psychological trauma that sets in, causing anxiety, anger, sadness, PTSD, lack of sleep, physical pain, relationship problems, communication problems, self-esteem issues and on and on and on.  For Black folks, there is no typical healing process.  As a matter of fact, Black folks typically DON’T heal from trauma because they are constantly re-traumatized…..and wounds stay open, bleeding and oozing with infection; symptoms of lifetime PAIN.

At the forefront of your mind, I want you to keep his last words fresh, “I'm f----- up. I feel like I'm having a heart attack. Oh my god."  The big question is WHY didn’t agents with CDCR and/or the officer with the Sacramento Police Department seek medical assistance for Brandon Smith on June 6th?  The truth supports the ugly reality that Black folks are left alone to fend and survive without systems and safety nets to catch us when we fall, unlike our white counterparts.  The fact of the matter is one’s past definitely dictates how they will be treated.  PERIOD.  And it is in this continued reality that we have figured out how to survive the hell hole of an existence created to trap us.  While some of us are forced to attempt to dig our way out of the proverbial cycle of slavery, we still walk and talk as if JUSTICE IS COMING SOON.  It is in this sad but hopeful reality, that we chant…..“Same story every time, being Black is not a crime,” because we are still here and to a certain degree we have survived when everything is stacked against us.

Brandon Smith’s Death Timeline…..

  • Wednesday, June 6th at approximately 11am Brandon Smith was driven by his mother and dropped off to his probation officer, who was going to assist him with housing at 1400 N. A Street, a detox center run by Volunteers of America. He was in GOOD health, not intoxicated, standing up-right, no slurring speech, alert and in good spirits.
  • Approximately 15 minutes later, his mother was called to come back to the facility because Brandon had forgotten his cigarettes in the car. She hugged and kissed him again, feeling proud of what his future was about to look like.  Again, he was in GOOD health, not intoxicated, standing up-right, no slurring speech, alert and in good spirits.
  • SOMETHING PHYSICAL AND TRAUMATIC HAPPENED…….at that detox center with parole officers, who had promised Brandon’s mother, Yolanda that he would be taken good care of.
  • Approximately 90 minutes later, Yolanda received yet another call from his probation officer; this time…..she said that Brandon was DEAD.
  • Brandon’s family was asked to come to Sutter Hospital to identify Brandon’s body.
  • Brandon’s family sat at Sutter for hours and was ultimately not allowed to see his body.
  • His family contacted the CDCR probation officer who his mother entrusted Brandon’s life into earlier that day…..but was rudely handled and eventually hung up on, and all communications with said officer ENDED IN THAT MOMENT.
  • His family went to the Sacramento Police Department in search of answers, but was given the run around.
  • Friday, June 8th the autopsy and toxicology tests were completed on Brandon’s body.
  • Tuesday, June 12th Brandon’s brother Brionne Mays and community members attended Sacramento City Council meeting urging the council to help find out what happened to Brandon.
  • Tuesday, June 12th Chief Hahn spoke with Brionne and set up the viewing of video/audio footage of the interaction between Brandon and SacPD. Hahn promised to meet them there and walk the family through the process.
  • Wednesday, June 13th the family of Brandon Smith along with Black Lives Matter Sacramento and other community leaders held a press conference in front of Sacramento City Hall.
  • Wednesday, June 13th at 1pm the family was scheduled to view the videos…..BUT CHIEF HAHN WAS A NO SHOW. Later that afternoon, the video/audio footage was released to the public.
  • Tuesday, June 19th and 13 days after his death, his family was finally allowed to view Brandon’s body…..WHAT THEY SAW WAS HEARTBREAKING. There were visible broken fingers, a broken wrist, a large gash across his forehead exposing the white meat, multiple missing teeth and lots of bruising, cuts and scrapes all over his body.
  • Tuesday, June 19th Brandon’s brother and the community returned to City Council and so began #8Days8Shots to bring back to the forefront of elected official’s minds that we want JUSTICE for the murder of Stephon Clark and the in custody death of Brandon Smith.
  • Wednesday, June 20th - Day 2 of #8Days8Shots - Die In was held at the main station of the Sacramento Police department. Brandon’s courageous brother laid on the floor for his brother memorializing the 15 minute drive to his death.
  • Wednesday, June 20th the Coroner’s office (this office is led by the Sacramento Sheriff’s department) released the autopsy report to the media, NOT THE FAMILY. The autopsy was presented in a way to help the agency’s false narrative and rule out homicide.
  • Thursday, June 21st the media with the aid of law enforcement shaped a narrative that Brandon’s death was caused by a drug overdose. This narrative completely ignored the fact that CDCR, Volunteers of America and SacPD were negligent in not calling an ambulance and his life could have been saved.
  • Thursday, June 21st – Day 3 of #8Day8Shots – SHUT IT DOWN at City Hall and Brandon Smith’s family was preparing for his funeral. His kids had arrived from out of town and were getting haircuts, so to bury their father.  As BLM Sacramento, other organizations and allies shut down City Hall, 8 comrades risked arrest for JUSTICE.
  • Friday, June 22nd Brandon’s family couldn’t raise enough money for a second autopsy and were forced to cremate his body.
  • Saturday, June 23rd Brandon Smith was laid to rest, funeral services were held in the Los Angeles area, where he was surrounded by family love.

After reviewing the above timeline, tell me that you don’t have questions for SacPD, CDCR, Volunteers of America, the Coroner’s office and the Sacramento Sheriff’s department.  Well we sure do.  One news media outlet sent BLM Sacramento a link of the autopsy and it was mentioned that the report was worded solely rule out homicide.  Furthermore, per an article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper…..

“The forensic pathologist noted Smith had small areas on his upper and lower back where he had been bleeding under

the skin, but there were no rib fractures or internal torso injuries….According to the report, Smith

had numerous abrasions on his forehead, cheek and upper lip.”

The Black community here in Sacramento, throughout the state and country has historically been suffering with open wounds due to trauma associated with STATE SANCTIONED VIOLENCE, in which every system is complicit.  From killing us in the streets, in custody or via broken hearts our wounds remain open, bleeding and oozing with infection.  Shame on those who pander to and profit from the death and trauma against Black bodies…..that is complicity and there is no HUMANITY in that.

BLM Sacramento is here to challenge the status quo and the normality of death and injustice.  Black lives have not mattered like white lives, and this is evident in the historic foundation of colonialism, slavery and white supremacy; which today looks like white privilege and diversity, both of whom perpetuate and exacerbate all of what is wrong with the 2 very starkly different Americas in which we live.  Brandon Smith is Freddie Gray all over again, and it is beyond time to raise the standards of how our police force actually protects and serves Black bodies. 

While many of us subscribe to the ABOLISHMENT of the police as it is too broken to be fixed, we know that there is work to do in the meantime.  So, in the meantime, we have to put our elected officials to the fire and they have to assert their position of power and demand a very different outcome.  In Sacramento that burden to a high degree is left in the hands of City Manager Howard Chan, as he can fire officers who abuse, neglect and especially MURDER people who are unarmed.  PERIOD.  At the very least, paid administrative leave has to be taken off the table.  If we create policy that encroaches on their pocketbooks the behavior will change.  This community is intelligent enough to bring equity to our problems….that is the HUMANITY we are looking for.

Accordingly, we have to stop using these buzz words like accountability and transparency to sound like we are actually working for the people.  Chief Hahn is guilty of pretending to care and has made recommendations that have kept terrorist employed and bottom line that shit has to stop.  When Chief Hahn can recommend Officer Anthony Figueroa, who beat the crap out of unarmed Nandi Cain, be given another chance to abuse someone else; we as a community have say, "No, not today."   The problem is real and trust will remain fractured, as things currently stand.  When City Councilman Larry Carr can ignore how DA Ann Marie Schubert has imposed a culture that further oppresses and disenfranchises Black folks in his very own Meadowview, we have to say, "Boy bye" because truth be told he has to go.  It is this type of political posturing which circumvents one’s ability to redeem their lives in an oppressive society; and that is a major problem.

The day that we wait for investigations to be over, is OVER.  HUMANITY needs no investigation to render a semblance of JUSTICE.  We demand justice for Brandon Smith and Stephon Clark and that looks like FIRING, CHARGING AND CONVICTING any officer who abuses, neglects or murders members of this community.  At the end of the day….BLACK LIVES ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHITE COMFORT, SYSTEMATIC RACISM AND THE NORMALITY OF DEATH BY COP.  State sanctioned violence is killing us in every aspect of our existence, despite the fact that America would not be America without Black bodies.  RESPECT THAT SHIT and give us the answers we are looking for and give them to us NOW!!! 

At the very least, their kids deserve everyone seeking JUSTICE and HUMANITY today.

 

"It is our duty to fight for our freedom, it is our duty to win;

We must love and support one another,

We have nothing to lose but our chains."

- Assata Shakur

 

Coming Events:

June 25th - 8 Days 8 Shots - Day Six @ 651 I Street, 1:30pm

June 26th - 8 Days 8 Shots - Day Seven @ City Council Meeting, 5pm

June 26th - SHOW! Brandon Smith Fundraiser @ The Blue Lamp, 8pm

July 6th - Black Summer - A Whole Lot Of Black Shit @ The Blue Lamp, 8pm

July 7th - Support Systems for Black and Brown Women @ Unitarian Universalist Society of Sacramento, 6pm

July 12th - Black Summer - Open Mic @ Old Soul, 7pm

July 27th - Fill the Court Room for Armani Lee @ Lorenzo Patino Hall of Justice, 8:30am