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They Fear and They Kill

December 11, 2014
By Marge Piercy
MRzine (December 1, 2014)

Official government statistics document that African American young men are killed by the police at a rate quadruple that of the whole population. In the period 1999 through 2011, police officers killed 4,531 people. Marge Piercy, in poem, captures that reality of being young, African American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American Indian, and a police victim.

It's open season on wild turkeys.
	They harm no one, are decorative
	feathered dinosaurs.  Tough to eat,
	so why shoot?  But the season ends.
	
	It's open season on Black youths
	all year, so long as you have
	a uniform and a gun.  They are
	genuinely scared, the cops.
	
	Kids of color are going to eat
	them.  Unarmed, boys are just
	as menacing, just skulking along
	in hoodies in the city where few
	
	cops live.  Cellphones are guns,
	toy guns are lethal, open hands
	could be weapons.  A Black body
	itself is a danger to be destroyed.
	
	[Marge Piercy is a poet, novelist, and activist.  She is the author of eighteen poetry books, most recently The Hunger Moon: New & Selected Poems, 1980-2010 (Knopf, 2011).  Her most recent novel is Sex Wars (Harper Perennial, 2005), and she has just published her first collection of short stories, The Cost of Lunch, Etc. (PM Press, 2014).  Piercy is also a frequent contributor to Monthly Review.]

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