The Washington Post (July 12, 2012) is reporting that a Washington, D.C. Police officer has made a “credible” threat to shoot First Lady Michelle Obama. The threat is considered credible because this particular officer, whose identity has not yet been revealed, has served as an armed motorcycle escort for Ms. Obama on a number of occasions.
The officer was not only over-heard making the threat, but also purportedly showed pictures of the weapon he intended to use via cell phone pictures.
The officer has been relieved of duty by the D.C. Police Department. D.C. police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump said: “We received an allegation that inappropriate comments were made. We are currently investigating the nature of those comments."
The Secret Service is taking the threat seriously, conducting its own investigation. Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan indicated that the agency would “take appropriate follow-up steps.”
This latest threat against the Obamas comes as no great surprise to people of a certain age, Baby Boomers in general, and black Baby Boomers in particular. Many of us were against President Obama's candidacy not because of any lack of qualifications or even policy differences. We remember clearly the turbulent 1960s, the Assassination Decade, when political leaders and social activists were almost routinely attacked, killed or grievously maimed. Here's a short (by no means exhaustive) list of some of those people:
June, 1963 –, National Secretary, NAACP. Medgar Evers was shot down in his driveway in Mississippi for his indefatigable efforts to register black Mississippians to vote and for challenging the Jim Crow segregationist laws and practices of that state and the entire south. His was the first of a series of murders of men who fought to uplift black people out of the centuries-old oppression and suppression of the American apartheid state.
November, 1963 –, President. Even though I was only 14 when Kennedy was killed, I recognized that his murder was a turning point in this nation-state's history. He was only the third president to be killed while in office – following Lincoln and McKinley. Hardly any Americans at the time believed or accepted the “official” version of his assassination (lone wolf killer with communist sympathies).
1965 –, Nation of Islam Leader and defector therefrom. Malcolm was just coming into his own as a true national and international leader of disaffected black people, having severed all ties with the Nation of Islam and its mercurial leader Elijah Mohammad. The trial of his murderers revealed that it was, in fact, the Nation which had had him killed.
April, 1968 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Having been born in the deep south and witness to two lynchings of black men, my mother often wondered not if but when “they” would kill Dr. King. When it finally happened, I was on campus at Indiana University. I called her that night to commiserate our sorrow, anger and grief. Her only comment about the assassination: “I'm surprised it took 'em this long to get him.” Later in that same conversation, she advised me “to be especially careful down there” (southern Indiana where a new version of thewas resurgent).
June, 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, Brother of JFK, former Attorney General and sitting Senator from New York. This one put a cap on the whole decade. It was pretty clear that had he lived he would have become president and changed the course of U.S. History – for the better. His whole agenda was about helping poor people; about continuing and reviving the legacy of both his brother and Dr. King. Ironically, he announced to an unknowing crowd of black people in Indianapolis on April 4, 1968, that Dr. King had been shot and killed. He also said in that speech that we must not hate our white brothers; that someday, perhaps in 40 years or so, he could envision that there might even be a black president.
Obviously, Robert Kennedy was prescient in his vision, for exactly 40 years later, the Age of Obama began. It's also clear that we may be on the verge of a new age of political terrorism. The hatred of Obama and all that he represents runs deep into the very soul of this country. There are those who have determined that his presence, his family's presence, in the White House is simply unacceptable and will do everything – anything – to remove the blot he represents on the “American” self-image.
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