Black Agenda Radio Commentaries
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Murder by Occupation: Tulsa 2016, Baghdad 2007

“That looks like a bad dude.”

The narrators of the murder were high in the sky, circling the scene of the unfolding, racist crime in their police helicopter. Down below, a large Black man named Terence Crutcher was standing with his hands up next to his disabled car. Four Tulsa, Oklahoma cops had arrayed themselves like a firing squad; one of them, Officer Betty Shelby, was the wife of Dave Shelby, one of the cops in the helicopter. From his elevated vantage point, Officer Dave Shelby provided the voice-over to Terence Crutcher’s last moments of life. “He’s got his hands up there for her now,” said Shelby. “This guy is still walking and following commands.”

You’d think that was a good thing. But, the other cop chimes in immediately: “Time for a Taser, I think.” Officer Shelby says, “I got a feeling that’s about to happen.” His partner clearly wants some damage done to the Black man, below. “That looks like a bad dude, too,” he said. “Could be on something,” he adds -- already providing some kind of drug-crazed justification for the murder that his fellow cops are about to commit. Then, with heaven and her husband Dave watching, Officer Betty Shelby blows Terence Crutcher away. The two cops in the helicopter express no surprise, no shock, no emotion whatsoever. As Terence Crutcher lays dying, the first thing out of Officer Dave Shelby’s mouth was about re-routing traffic around the killing zone.

The helicopter police voice-over of Terence Crutcher’s execution was a ghastly reminder of the video released by Wikileaks of a 2007 mass murder of Iraqi civilians by U.S. helicopter gun crews over Baghdad. The Americans were engaged in what I’m sure some of them called “hajji-hunting,” which is the same as what the good ole boys back home call “coon-hunting” -- searching for colored folks to kill. Circling unseen way above the city, the Americans opened fire at an innocent group of unarmed men on a street corner.

Mission Unjustifiable

“Keep shootin. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’. Keep shootin’,” hollered one of the killers. “Oh, yeah, look at those dead bastards,” said his partner. “Nice. Good shootin’,” the other soldier complimented his accomplice in murder. But they weren’t through, yet. The gunship then attacked a van driven by a father with two of his children inside. The voice of American Soldier #1 is heard saying, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

These voices over Baghdad and Tulsa speak the same language: the language of Occupation. When spoken by Americans, this language is always racist, but it also has its own, particular quality of horror. Occupations are always justified as “peace-keeping” missions. Domestic occupiers are called “peace” officers. But their mission is war against a civilian population -- to inflict preemptive terror on an entire mass of people. Since the actual mission cannot be justified, the Occupiers lie to themselves and everybody else about the real nature of their mission. In the end, the Occupied peoples have no choice but to expel their tormentors, or become as insane and morally degraded as they are. This applies just as much in Tulsa as it does in Baghdad. We need Black community control of the police, and an end to the Occupation.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Direct download: 20160921_gf_TulsaToBaghdad.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:59pm EDT