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What Do Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rev. Al Sharpton, Mr. Howard Edelman, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and Mr. Quentin Tarantino Have in Common?

December 4, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry

Part Six

Remembering Clifford Glover

Whenever police officers are killed, there is lengthy news coverage regarding the impact on their families – their wives, children (ages, schools, etc.), their aspirations, and on and on it goes – sometimes, for weeks, and rightly so. Police officers who serve their communities deserve their accolades.

How many people, particularly in the Euro-American dominated press, stop to think or write about the unarmed citizens that police kill? Usually, there is a vigorous effort to find some mistakes or some crimes committed by the victims. If nothing can be found on the victims, then the search continues on the family members. Then, if nothing can be found there either, the story usually ends abruptly.

We have to admit, however, there are some cases which are too blatant to be ignored, but even then it is largely the Protest Movement that forces the press and public officials to devote extended time to the case. Even so, the search for the negative does not stop. I’ve wondered, “Who among the public stopped to think that to take a life is to kill generations, and, maybe, even a nation?” For who knows how many children, say, Clifford Glover, would have had, and what they would have become, granted that this is true for all who are killed? Regarding the police, at least, they know what’s at stake when they take the job. They are paid a reasonable salary with fringe benefits and other kinds of perks.

The innocent citizens, especially children, who are killed by the hired officers, who are supposed to protect them, might get justice and/or money settlement. However, most of the time, they get neither justice nor money; and, more often than not, suspicion hangs over them: “They must have done something wrong.” Surely, the fault is not with the police. Additionally, sometimes, the family is harassed as in the case of Clifford Glover.

Clifford was a 10-year-old Black child who was fatally shot on the back by a police officer named Thomas Shea on April 28, 1973. As Clifford lay dying, the walkie talkie transmission recorded Officer Scott’s words: “Die, you little bastard.” Mr. Add Armstead, Clifford’s stepfather said, “We were walking, and not saying anything to each other. This car pulled up, and this white fella opened the door with a gun. He said, ‘You black son of a b—-.” And, fired.

After the acquittal that night, police, relatives, friends, and jurors celebrated at Luigi’s Restaurant. However, Officer Shea did not escape entirely. He was removed from the police force. The reaction to all of this by the then union leader, Mr. Bob McKiernan, was typical. He said, “Policemen have been sold out again by politicians. This city slides toward anarchy. His attorney, Mr. Jacob Evseroff, said that Officer Shea was “protecting us from the animals who roam the streets.” There were community disruptions, marches, demonstrations, and boycotts.

On Saturday, November 14, 2015, we held a birthday celebration for Clifford. I wonder what he would have become and how many children would have come forth from his seed and what great achievement he might have wrought. Going the other way, I think of what his mother and father (and, others like them) lost.

What happened to the family of Clifford? At the ceremony on Saturday, three of his family members were present – his brother and two sisters. For the first time, the sisters shared their memories. The featured speaker was his brother, Mr. Kenneth Armstead.

During and after the presentation, the sisters gave their reflections. They confirmed and added to what their brother had spoken. They talked about their mother who was never the same. One of the cruelest cuts of all, because the police said there was a gun (no gun was ever found), some of the relatives and Mrs. Glover had doubts about her husband. This brought more tension to the family.

Policemen would come at night and search the house – “all up in the attic.” They were harassed by the police as they went to school. Even schoolmates would tease them. Their mother had settled a lawsuit of thousands of dollars. They never knew the exact amount. She was taken advantage of by friends and some leaders until all of the money was gone. Their testimonies were interspersed with sobs and tears. Occasionally, they burst into crying. As the audience felt the pain of the sisters, there were tears in their eyes, too. There were moans, and heads were sadly shaking.

In my remarks, I recounted other youths which were killed after Clifford: Jay Parker, Ricky Bodden (1972); Randolph Evans (1976); Claude Reese (1974); Nicholas Heyward, Jr. (1994); Ramarley Graham (2012); and, Kimani Gray (2013). It was mentioned several times that this was the first time they shared their memories. Understandably, the pain was too severe to expose to the light of reality. It didn’t surprise me that the families felt comfortable and free enough to share their memories. I am pleased, proud, and grateful that The House of the Lord Church has always been a place of healing, yes, and of prophetic or activist ministry.

… to be continued.

(Originally published in the Daily Challenge on December 4, 2015.)