The night of August 20, a light burned on the street corner near Crenshaw Blvd. and Florence Avenue. Inside Chuco's Justice Center, a group of about 20 minorities, all under the age of 35, bobbed their heads and swayed their arms to the disheartening professions of their inner emotions regarding the effect of police brutality on their lives.
At the monthly open mic night called “Fightin' Words,” citizens of Inglewood take peaceful action through poetry and music to stop police brutality. The event is an outlet for those who have been affected by controversial police violence and gather to share their stories through rhyme and rhythm. People from the eclectic crowd took turns going up to the mic to profess their sorrows as DJ Starchild spun hip-hop records as back up to the rhymesayers.
“Five people died from police brutality in the past year,” said Aidge, host of the event. The latest victim was Marcus Smith, 31, who was fatally shot by police in Inglewood on May 17, 2009. Police claim Smith pulled out a gun, but witnesses say he was an unarmed peacekeeper.
One man with a shirt depicting a deceased loved spoke about finding spirituality and one young woman spoke of her hope to stop sexual slavery. “Yes, I will dedicate my life to fighting your special breed of tyranny,” said Georgie, a young female participant from the crowd.
Pictures and stories of people who have been killed in police altercations lined the walls, and despite the room made of cold cement, there was an unexpected warmth of support emanating from the group for one another.
Aidge, vivaciously spit into the microphone and dictated to the crowd, “If you don't know someone, introduce yourself.” He believes that change can be made through poetry. “I've been stopped and searched for no reason [by police], embarrassed, had my head cut open…but mostly it's [Fightin' Words] for the family members of people who have been killed by police.”
Fightin' Words aims to bring people together who share the same pain. The event is held every third Thursday. Go here for more information.