"You seem...disturbed." My old friend Jacques, a Canadian Indian from Montreal remarked as we sat last week in one of the waiting areas at Albuquerque, New Mexico's, International Sunport. Jacque's wife was twenty minutes late from Los Angeles, so all the two of us could do was to just sit and wait.
"I said you seem disturbed," Jacques repeated in his heavy French accent.
"I am disturbed!" I said, my voice fraught with anger, as I read on CNN's website about yet another race-based act of violence upon a person of color, this time in Baltimore, Maryland. Two male teens and one adult were suspects in the brutal beating of an elderly black man, and Baltimore police have classified the incident as racially motivated. According to CNN, Emmanuel Miller, 16, and Zachary Watson, 17, were charged as adults. They, along with Calvin Lockner, 28, participated as a group in the attack at a city park on Tuesday, August 18th.
A Baltimore police spokesman said that Lockner was identified as a white supremacist, who goes by the nickname of "Hitler," and sports a tattoo of Der Fuhrer. Lockner also told the police that he was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood.
According to an Associated Press report, the two teenagers claimed that (even though they were there with Lockner) they did not take part in the beating of James Privott, a 76-year old black man who was out fishing that day. Privott was discovered by police with a head injury when they responded to a report of an armed carjacking. Privott, according to CNN, told authorities that four white men approached him as he was near his car, and he was punched, kicked and hit repeatedly with a baseball bat while racial slurs were yelled at him.
Privott lost two teeth and suffered a broken eye socket as a result of the attack according to the Associated Press. He was released from the University of Maryland Shock and Trauma Center on Wednesday night. According to CNN, the three men alleged to have taken part in the incident will face charges of attempted murder, assault, armed carjacking, and assault and harassing a person because of race or religion. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for the 18th of September.
In a previous column here, I mentioned that I managed an apartment complex in downtown Rapid City, South Dakota, from 2004-2006. In December of 2005, on a very cold, but snow-less Sunday afternoon, I had my own encounter with a representative of the Aryan Brotherhood.
That Sunday, as I cleaned up the parking lot, I noticed that two homeless men had set up a canvas lean-to on the west side of the larger apartment building. The men, who were white, were both asleep wrapped around each other on a pile of blankets. A pair of huge backpacks were placed in front of the lean-to in a V-formation as a barricade of sorts. Gently waking the two men, I politely explained to them that they could not camp out there as it was private property.
As the men sat up and stared at me I noticed the distinctive, dark-blue SS bolt tattoos of the Aryan Brotherhood on the left sides of their necks. The older, fatter man had the words "KKK = Kill Kolored Kids," tattooed in green on the right side of his cheek. I told the men that a woman in one of the apartments had already called the police and that I just wanted to warn them so they could leave without any trouble. The older man quickly gathered up his belongings and scurried down the alleyway. The younger man, in his late 40s, and perhaps 6´-3" and weighing maybe 250 pounds, continued to sit motionless, saying nothing to me. Incidentally, I am 5´-9" and weigh 180.
"Okay, man. Don´t blame me when the cops show up," I told the man as I went back to my cleaning duties. I did not want to get any closer to this individual as he smelled horribly of cheap wine. The entire time I managed the apartments, defiant winos were a serious problem for me to deal with. I thought then that this wino was different than most because of his apparent connection to the Aryan Brotherhood. He was most likely an ex-con just passing through town.
As I finished sweeping the sidewalk that led to the parking lot, I heard a loud, crashing noise from behind the building where I had confronted the two men. Rushing back to that area I saw that one of the metal trash dumpsters had been tipped over, paper debris moving in every direction. There was no one to be seen anywhere near the dumpsters.
When I bent down to pick the dumpster up, something heavy exploded at the base of my skull that nearly rendered me unconscious. I hit the asphalt so hard that all I saw was a swarm of bright-white spots throughout my entire field of vision. As soon as I could see clearly again, the man I had just spoken to was standing before me with a tube sock that had been filled with gravel or sand.
As I struggled to get to my feet, the wino then laughed and yelled out, "Now ahm gonna kick fer that extra point!" And, with what were at least size 13 combat boots he kicked me hard in the stomach. My wind knocked out, I labored desperately for air. The wino stooped to put me in a choke hold and lifted me off the ground, forcing me to stand up.
He pushed me hard against the brick wall of the building, and then he just stood huffing and puffing through his nose, his shaved head twitching frantically. Miraculously, I caught my breath as he stood there. The wino suddenly lunged towards me with a rusty, old Bowie knife with what had to be a 14-inch blade, the large saw teeth on the blade´s backside perfectly designed for ripping the flesh and bones of big game.
"Ahm gonna gut me a prairie nigger!" My wine-soaked attacker screamed out loudly.
As he swung the cruel-looking weapon in a downwards motion at me, I used my left arm to block the movement of the knife and with my right fist I smashed the crook of his elbow. The knife fell to the asphalt. I grabbed the wino by his neck and slammed him against the wall, the back of his head hitting the bricks first. He dropped to his knees with just the whites of his eyes showing.
Moving quickly, I snaked my right arm around his massive neck and squeezed until he went limp. Not a single person had witnessed what had just taken place. I then went up to my apartment and called 911. Five minutes later I went back outside. The wino was gone. The cops, a veteran and a rookie, came by 45 minutes later. All I told them was that a wino had given me a hard time.
"That happens a lot around here, huh?" The 20-something cop with a red mustache and goatee casually asked.
Melvin Martin is an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe of
South Dakota. He can be contacted at email@example.com
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