WHO WE CELEBRATE IN DEATH
SPEAKS VOLUMES ON WHO WE VALUE IN LIFE
SPEAKS VOLUMES ON WHO WE VALUE IN LIFE
A street ceremony was held for NYPD Randolph Holder Jr. who died in the line of duty.
TAGS: NYPD DETECTIVE HOLDER, STREET RENAMING, LINE OF DUTTY DEATH,
PUBLIC SERVCIE VS STREET FAME,
CHRISTOPHER WALLACE, ALEX HALEY V MIKE TYSON, RODNEY KING, LA 1992,
NYC “ROTTING APPLE”, NYPD EFFORTS BIG APPLE
(Friday August 4, 2017 Collier Ave., Far Rockaway, Queens, NYC) Fulton Street in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn is, as the crow flies, a baker’s dozen miles from Collier Avenue in the Far Rockaway enclave of Queens. Where that particular section of Brooklyn is benefiting to some degree from gentrification after being infamous for decades as a hotbed of violence, drug abuse, criminality, and urban decay, South Queens has always had a sense of safety and security; it is still working to recover from the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.
Today memorial ceremonies were held in each location celebrating the lives of “native sons”. That the ceremonies for each man occurred on the same day will forever be the only commonality between them; they were as different in life as they are in death. One was a career criminal who died in a hail of bullets. The other was a third generation NYPD Officer who was shot dead in the Line of Duty. They were born and raised in abutting Boroughs into secure environments yet they made diametrically opposed choices that would forever define their lives.
Hours ago, a neighborhood basketball court was opened and christened as the Christopher “Biggie” Wallace Courts at the Crispus Attucks Playground near the border of Bed-Stuy. Shortly after and a world away, a street naming ceremony was held dedicating the intersection of Briar Place and Collier Avenue in Far Rockaway as Detective Randolph Holder Way. If our society can be judged by who and what we celebrate, of our priorities, values, and character, today’s media coverage of these two events speaks volumes regarding what we do and do not deem worthy of mention. The Notorious B.I.G. park dedication, as he came to be known, was covered widely in all major media outlets in NYC while the ceremony in Far Rockaway was covered solely by the New York Post. But this disparity is nothing new. The profound rifts and schisms bemoaned by media and politicos of all stripes are just the most recent baring of decades long outright antagonisms, sporadic upheavals, and entrenched attitudes. It did not take a President Obama or a President Trump to shake some of the dusty cobwebs off our most ossified perceptions on race, poverty, drug abuse, crime, broken families, and the malignant cluster of thorny issues under the rubric of urban decay.
ALEX HALEY VS MIKE TYSON
There could not be a more bizarre pairing of famous African American men in the history of late 20th century America. Alex Haley’s groundbreaking 1976 novel “Roots” became an epic TV mini-series that transfixed the country in 1977. The story recounted the real history of his family ancestors from slavery to the post-Civil War years. His work spawned a movement that created Black Studies, African American history, and all manner of Afrocentric academic programs across the campuses of our colleges and universities. Haley was not a talented and gifted “African American author”, he simply was one of the greatest writers of his generation and his impressive collection of works rank among the most influential of his day and times. He died on February 10th, 1992. Many media outlets gave short shrift to his passage aside from the brief, pot boiler obits in some newspapers.
Perhaps there was a reason aside from lack of interest in the paucity of coverage his death received. Something that was obviously more important, of far greater significance and cultural gravity also occurred that day in an Indianapolis, Indiana courtroom. Mike Tyson, the most feared heavyweight boxer of his time was found guilty of raping a Miss Black Teen pageant contestant. The Tyson story was a literal media frenzy while Haley’s death was a media afterthought. Many Black communities across the country protested via blatant civil disobedience over the fact that Tyson had been convicted. This roiling anger and resentment in many Black communities would be in full throttled evidence a few weeks later after the four Los Angeles Police Officers who were captured on film beating an unarmed convicted felon, Rodney King, were all acquitted of all but one minor charge. The violence and riots that ensued reverberate in many pockets of South Central LA and elsewhere to this day. Many point to that particular case as the genesis of the widespread distrust of and hostility to the Police within Black America.
B.I.G. VERSUS BIGGER AND BETTER
Young Christopher Wallace was a good student. By age 12 he had added minor drug dealing to his curriculum. His physical size enhanced his nascent street image and allowed a penchant for intimidation and violence to flourish. He eventually dropped out of school and began associating with others involved in the growing rap music scene in Brooklyn. As time went by he gained some success and local notoriety that set him on the road to national acclaim among the rap music audience. The details of his life from that point on are irrelevant since he cast his loyalty to rappers on the West coast. There had been a low-level war of insults, “dissing”, and malignant competition between the New York City bred rappers and their counterparts in Los Angeles. He was shot to death on March 9th, 1997 and his case remains open.
On October 20th, 2015 NYPD Officer Randolph Holder was assigned to a housing unit in East Harlem ad responded to a call of shots fired at 420 E. 102 street. Callers to 911 reported gunfire between members of rival gangs. Holder wound up in foot pursuit of one suspect when that individual stopped suddenly and shot Holder in the forehead. His killer was apprehended shortly thereafter, PO Holder died almost immediately.
Biggie Smalls, another moniker Christopher Wallace employed, died as he lived. His music has been dubiously hailed for its “’authenticity” with the New York Times going as far as calling him “The Bard of Brooklyn”. A morbidly obese career criminal and self-designated “thug”, “gansta”, and “strong arm drug dealer” could not hold a candle to the dedicated, courageous Police Officer that gave his life in the service of our City. That their lives and deaths were celebrated so differently is a shame; it is actually an insult to all MOS, past and present, of the NYPD. Once a society elevates obscure people to the heights of acclaim for their “talents”, however banal and overlooks those among us who serve unselfishly and literally put their lives on the line after time they go to work, there is an erosive force at play.
CULTURE AND SOCIETY
Often it is necessary to juxtapose events against each other in the effort to find moral clarity. What transpired today in Brooklyn and Queens stand in stark contrast to each other; simply by memorializing the lives and deaths of two New Yorkers who’d walked such divergent paths, says much about our priorities. The political environment of today reflects the many gulfs straining the cohesiveness of our society. The multiple fractures evidenced only serve s borders of the divisions that wrack society. New Yorkers of every political and apolitical affiliation share points of agreement if they’d step aside from behind the shields of their core beliefs. The dramatic transformation of New York City in 1992 as compared to today are as profound as they can be. It took people to “cross” Party lines to elect Rudy Giuliani to the Office of the Mayor in the hopes that a “Republican” tough on crime, former federal prosecutor could and would take what was our “Rotting Apple” back to our rightful place among the greatest cities in the world.
From 1993 until 2014 strong Mayors, Giuliani and Mike Bloomberg, each coupled by effective NYPD Commissioners exerted the monumental forces required to “clean up” our City. The process was not always pretty nor was it without controversy however, one cannot deny the results. But in the slow yet steady swing of the societal pendulum, the very creative, proactive strategies and tactics that allowed the NYPD to achieve what seemed an impossible goal, have now come under scrutiny. People have short memories. Anyone among us who lived through those darkest or dark years of 2000 plus homicides a year and the staggering rates of crime of all categories, cannot help but acknowledge just how far we have come.
The politics of race are always in the shadow of every discussion of culture and society. A small coterie of “activists” have emerged from the flames of places like Ferguson, Missouri and Baltimore and have capitalized on the knotty issues of relations between the Police and the public, particularly the Black public. The “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) ‘movement’, such as it is has no relation to the principled individuals who over 50 years ago lead the legal and political struggle for Civil Rights. PO Holder was a Black man shot dead by a black gangbanger; where was the outrage? Where was the BLM protesters? The overwhelming majority of violence and street crime is Black on Black. Again, where are the BLM agitators? Black America is not the only constituency that can speak from both sides of their mouths when it suits their “cause”. But they are the most hyperbolically hypocritical. If all Black lives matter why are these self-appointed leaders and activists protesting nightly on the streets of the south side of Chicago; a major American city that has been in the suffocating embrace of gun violence and murder for the last few years. Perhaps the reality of Chicago is not of interest to the BLM movement?
REST IN PEACE, SIR
The sun will come up tomorrow bathing Brooklyn and Queens in its summer light and heat. Kids will play at the new basketball courts in Brooklyn while people in Far Rockaway will go about their business and crossing the street at the newly designated Detective Randolph Holder Way. To some, perhaps many, the designation of each of those locals will not register; others will perhaps remember the men whose names are now synonymous with each place. That is just the ebb and flow of life in our vast City.
Biggie Smalls may very well remain in the consciousness of young African Americans for his music and the gangbanging life he lauded in his raps. So be it.
PO Randolph Holder posthumously promoted to Detective, will forever be Honored, Remembered, and Respected for his Service and Sacrifice. The institutional memory of the NYPD will see to that. Rest Easy, Detective, Rest Easy in the Light and Presence of the Lord. Fidelis Ad Mortem.
Copyright The Brooding Cynyx 2017 © All Rights Reserved
Copyright Brooding Cynyc 2017 © All Rights Reserved
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