Penn Professor Sparks Controversy With Michael Brown Poem

goldsmith colbert

Kenneth Goldsmith, left, appeared on The Colbert Report in 2013.

 

A Penn professor has stepped into controversy for a new poem describing the autopsy of Michael Brown, the young man whose shooting by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., sparked months of protests around the country.

The Daily Pennsylvanian describes how writing professor Kenneth Goldsmith generated the anger with a March 13 reading of “The Death of Michael Brown” at Brown University:

At the conference that focused on digital culture, Goldsmith read a poem titled “The Body of Michael Brown” as Brown’s graduation photo was projected behind him. The poem was simply a copy of the medical examiner’s report on Brown’s autopsy with some changes to make the medical terms more understandable to the average person and to enhance the “poetic effect.”

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Ramsey: “We Are Not at War With the Communities We Serve”

Commissioner Charles Ramsey discusses the recommendations of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Ramsey helped co-chair the task force.

Commissioner Charles Ramsey discusses the recommendations of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Ramsey helped co-chair the task force.

Philly Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey met the local media Tuesday morning to discuss the recommendations of the White House Task Force on 21st Century Policing that he helped co-chair, and what those recommendations mean for Philadelphia.

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Ramsey-Led Policing Commission Makes Recommendations

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair,  the President's Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey, co-chair, the President’s Task Force on 21 Century Policing, listens to witnesses at the Newseum in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

The presidential task force on 21st century policing led by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey has issued its “interim” report. Ramsey will hold a press conference on the findings this morning with Philly media.

NBC News reports:

In a report released Monday, Obama’s task force on police reform did not embrace proposed policies like requiring police officers to wear body cameras or linking federal funding for local police departments to requirements all of their officers undergo racial bias training.

The 11-person task force, chaired by Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey and Laurie Robinson, a professor of criminology at George Mason University, instead recommended less sweeping changes.

Its “overarching recommendation” was for Obama to create a so-called National Crime and Justice Task Force to suggest more ideas. The report also urged, as civil rights leaders have long demanded, that police departments collect more precise data about the race and other demographic characteristics of people who are stopped and arrested.

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Mother Assails Police for Son’s Death

A town hall on police and community relations Wednesday night grew tense when the mother of a man shot last year by police said she hadn’t received justice in the case.

Brandon Tate-Brown was killed during a December traffic stop in Mayfair; police said he was reaching for a stolen handgun in the center console of his car and that they acted in self-defense.

Wednesday, his mother — Tanya Brown-Dickerson — spoke out Wednesday at the “Philly After Ferguson” held at Catalyst of Change Church in West Philadelphia.

The Daily Pennsylvanian reports:

His mother, Tanya Brown-Dickerson, spoke at the event, begging police to release the footage from her son’s death.

“Brandon was tried, judged and condemned by the police,” Brown-Dickerson said. “Please just show me the footage.”

Brown-Dickerson also revealed that she had first learned of her son’s death over the radio on her way to work that morning.

“How many of you would be fine hearing of your child’s death on the media?” Brown-Dickerson asked. Reverend Mark Kelly Tyler also spoke out about how Tate-Brown’s death was handled in the media. “Before she even knew he was dead, we knew his whole criminal record,” he said.

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Yes, Blue Lives Matter. So Do Black Lives.

Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, center, visits a makeshift memorial near the site where NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed the two officers in their patrol car in broad daylight Saturday, fatally shooting them before killing himself inside a subway station. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, center, visits a makeshift memorial near the site where NYPD officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were murdered in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Dec. 22, 2014. Police say Ismaaiyl Brinsley ambushed the two officers in their patrol car in broad daylight Saturday, fatally shooting them before killing himself inside a subway station. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

At first, I couldn’t figure out what made me uncomfortable about last week’s rally in Mayfair to support the Police Department.

The Facebook invitation seemed polite and earnest, a genuine gesture of gratitude following an incident in which a man allegedly reached for a handgun during a traffic stop (he was killed after a struggle with police). I’m from the area, and I’m incredibly grateful to the men and women who allow me to go about my life in this city feeling secure – as a woman who routinely walks her three-legged shih tzu while wearing four-inch heels, I rely very heavily on safe streets as opposed to, say, survival skills or physical prowess.

And yet, something about that rally didn’t feel quite right. Something looked confrontational about this peaceful protest.

And then I saw it, my least favorite Facebook meme, out there in the wild on posterboard: a “Blue Lives Matter” sign.

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Now Is the Wrong Time for Protests

It was Saturday night at the King of Prussia Mall and my 8-year-old son, David, wanted to see Santa. He took a picture with his mom’s iPhone of some toys he just saw and wanted to show Santa. Welcome to life in 2014.

We got to the Santa area in the middle of the mall and his helpers were putting up the velvet rope. “Santa has to take a quick break,” we were told. I pleaded and they allowed just one more. The velvet rope clipped on the pole and I was dad of the day.

As I stood waiting for my son’s turn with the big man, the helper confided in me that he needed to rush Santa out of there before the “Die-In.” A large group of people protesting the shooting deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner were going to sprawl themselves like so many dead bodies next in the fake snow and next to the giant candy canes, in hopes of disrupting Christmas shopping and visits with Santa.

On cue a little girl cried at the news that she would not be able to talk to Santa. She was told that he needed to feed the reindeer. In truth, his security team had to whisk him away before the embarrassing photo op of Santa standing jolly amid the mock dead.

It was surreal until the anger set in. How dare they!
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New York Shootings Raise Ramsey’s Concern

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey. AP | Matt Rourke

Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey says it’s time to cool heated rhetoric in the wake of two New York City cops being assassinated over the weekend.

The shootings came in the wake of weeks of protests — in Philadelphia and nationwide — after two grand juries failed to indict police in New York and Missouri for the killings of unarmed black men.
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Why “I Can’t Breathe” Matters

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an " I Can't Breathe" t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.  Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 8, 2014; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) wears an ” I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt during warm ups prior to the game against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

There was once a time in sports where it was cool to be an anti-hero. Charles Barkley ran a money-making campaign to prove he was not a role model. Michael Jordan, the best to ever do it, never made it his business to prove that he cared about the community either, despite how the hood’s love of Jordans has kept his money long in the years after basketball.

“Republicans buy shoes, too,” he once said. (Or possibly didn’t. Either way, Jordan was famous for his non-political stances during his playing career.)

The 1980s and early 90s, the years of modern excess, were years where anyone could say anything what they wanted, because everyone seemingly had everything they wanted. It was easy not to care, especially if you were one of the world’s biggest athletes.

But something’s changed in a major way. There’s something very special happening in sports right now. People care.

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