PLAY #14: STOP (DEC 14)

[This play is inspired by this excellent article by Brentin Mock:

http://grist.org/cities/after-ferguson-we-must-ask-who-owns-the-streets/]

 

An empty road.

A chorus of mourners & protestors.

 

 

CHORUS

officer

why did you stop Mike Brown?

what shade of crime is jaywalking?

whose feet does it intend to stop?

officers

who do you protect?

who do you serve?

why are the cruising rights of cars

more important

than the breathing rights of young black men?

 

The sound of traffic for a moment.

 

there was a time here

when feet could walk down centres of streets

when pedestrians

street cars

horses

coursed along streets together.

there was even a time

almost a century ago

when the rights of the people to live

seemed more important than that of cars to speed.

in 1923

Cincinnati

pedestrians tried to curb cars’ power

proposed a ballot

to limit speeds.

 

Traffic sounds.

 

the automobile industry was scared

said that cars don’t kill people

people do

dangerous people.

if you have enough money

you can name the world as you see fit

and so ‘jaywalkers’ were born

LA, 1924:

the first Anti-Jaywalking Law.

 

Traffic sounds.

 

officers

whose feet are you trying to cuff

when you enforce loitering and jaywalking laws?

whose interests do you protect?

why do you have laws

to stop and frisk

to push and pull

to control the movement

of those you want to keep unpowered?

whose feet are you trying to criminalize?

 

officer

why did you stop Mike Brown?

what threat did he pose to your car

on a 25 mile per hour street?

officers

what order are you trying to impose

when you push feet off of bridges, streets, motorways?

officers

what world do you live in

when the ordered movement of cars

matters more

than the steps of those

angry

sad

mad

at the murder of another young black man?

 

Traffic sounds.

 

injustices loop

like ring-roads.

we remember

A.J. Nelson

the four-year old black boy

killed by a truck in Atlanta.

officers

why did you charge his mother, Raquel Nelson, with homicide?

you said she was

exhibiting reckless conduct; jaywalking.

a mother trying to get her kid to a bus

on a road where the nearest crosswalk was a third of a mile away.

what sort of system is so reckless

that it provides no safe routes to bus stops?

officers

whose feet are you trying to criminalize?

 

we indict

a system where access to crosswalks

can depend on the color of your skin

we indict

a system where young black men are

stopped and frisked

copped and ssshh’d.

we indict

a system that protects cars over people

we indict

a system that says that black lives matter less than cars.

 

Traffic sounds.

The chorus sits down on the road.

 

officer

why did you shoot Mike Brown?

officer

why did you leave his body on the road?

officer

why did you have to stop him at all?

 

now

this

must

STOP.

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