Who Killed McDuffie?

by Hakim Al-Jamil

Who Killed McDuffie? 
a definitive question 

his brain was bashed 
cranium crashed 
skull fractured/broken 
all the way around 
but they said those who beat him 
didn't kill him 
so who killed mcduffie? 
maybe it was the same ones who didn't kill 
clifford glover/randy heath/jay parker 
claude reese/randy evans/luis baez 
arturo reyes/bonita carter/eula love 
elizabeth magnum/arthur miller 
and countless others 
when their fingers slipped or 
they musta tripped 
maybe it was the same ones 
who didn't kill 
jose torres/zayd shakur/fred and carl hampton 
jonathon and george jackson/joe dell 
twyman myers/spurgeon winters 
and a few hundred others 
perhaps it was those who didn't kill 
and quite a few thousand more 
do you suppose it may have been those 
who didn't kill 
the indians and mexicans 
who didn't steal african peoples 
halfway across the planet 
who didn't loot our customs/cultures 
religions/languages/labor and land 
who didn't steal a continent 
and claim that they discovered it 
who didn't bomb the japanese/ 
vietnamese and boriqua too 
do you think it might have been those 
who didn't kill at 
detroit/newark/el barrios 
at jackson state, at southern u 
at the algiers motel 
who didn't shoot mark essex for 
16 hours after he was dead 
ask them and they'll tell you 
what they didn't do 
but they can't tell you 
who killed mcduffie 

maybe it was one of those 
seizures unexplainable 
where he beat himself to death 
it wouldn't be unusual 
our history is full of cases where we 
attack nightsticks with our heads 
choke billyclubs with our throats 
till we die/ 
jump in front of bullets with our backs/ 
throw our selves into rivers 
with our hands and feet bound/ 
hang ourselves on trees/in prison cells 
by magic 
so it shouldn't be a mystery 
that nobody killed mcduffie 
he just died the way 
so many of us do 
of a disease nobody makes a claim to 
the police say they didn't do it 
the mayors say they didn't do it 
the judges say they didn't do it 
the government says it didn't do it 
nixon says he didn't do it 
the fbi/cia/military establishment 
say they didn't do it 
xerox/exxon/itt say they didn't do it 
the klan and nazis say they didn't do it 
(say they were busy in greensboro and wrightsville) 
i know i didn't do it 
that don't leave nobody but you 
and if you say you didn't do it 
we're right back where we started 
looking for nobody who killed mcduffie 

you remember nobody don't you 
like with de facto segregation 
where they said the schools were segregated 
but nobody did it on purpose 
like when they said there's been 
job discrimination for years 
but nobody did it intentionally 
that's the nobody we're looking for 
the one with the motive 
to kill mcduffie 
and you see, we MUST find 
this nobody who slew mcduffie 
because the next person 
nobody will beat/stomp/hang or shoot to death 
won't be mcduffie 
it'll be you or someone close to you 
so for your own safety 
you should know the pedigree of 
who killed mcduffie 
you should know the reason of 
who killed mcduffie 
you should remember all those forgotten 
who died of the disease 
makes a claim to 
so we won't be here asking 
who killed you. 

In 1979, Arthur McDuffie, a Black man, was riding his motorcycle 
in Miami when police chased him, knocked him off his bike, 
and beat him to death, crushing his head with billyclubs and flashlights.
During the trial that followed, all the police were found not guilty.
The Black community launched a massive rebellion that rocked Miami 
and sent shock waves throughout the country.
Hakim Al-Jamil, then a prisoner at Leavenworth Federal Prison,
 wrote this poem about the incident.

Who Killed McDuffie? by Hakim Al-Jamil

© Copyright 1980. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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