Unnamed Oral History Interview

Creator: Unnamed | Date: 2015-08-19
Collection: Righting the Record Oral History Project

Interviewee: [Fades into interview] There’s a lot of violence going on. Now, I do have an opinion. I don’t think that whites should be policing our neighborhoods. Who better to handle our people than our own people?

Interviewer: That’s true.

Interviewee: You see what I’m saying? People send the brothers on the westside where there ain’t nothing going on. And send the white boys over here where [indistinct, wind blowing], but if we got some brothers over here that’s gonna look out for us, you know, even cut us slack a time or two. Everybody don’t need to go to jail for what’s going on, man. You know what I’m saying? But, see, the first thing the white man wants to do is pull his gun on you. ‘Cause he’s scared anyway. Well get his ass off the neighborhood. He don’t need to be over here anyway. This is our hood. We had to fight to get it. And we still do; we still at the bottom of the totem pole. You know what I’m saying?

Interviewer: Word.

Interviewee: Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers, like everybody that fought for us and look where we at. We ain’t movin’ nowhere. They think that they society when they went somewhere. They ain’t went nowhere. My name Melvin [indistinct]. You can quote me on that.

Interviewer: For sure.

Interviewee: You heard me?

Interviewer: For sure..

Interviewee: And I mean that. I believe that, man. We don’t need no white men in our neighborhood policing our people. You know what I’m saying? Get the right politicians in there. Get the no-nonsense Mayor in there, that’s not gonna have zero tolerance with his cops. Like Mike White; he didn’t play! You get your Uncle Tom up in there he just gonna do whatever they want, they say! “Well okay then, boss. Right on, boss.” Get them white men out of our neighborhood. Put some real strong black police officers that care about their people that were raised in this city, that were raised on Hough, and that went to some of our schools. Let them interact with the people that they grew up with. Who better off to talk to them? They gonna listen to them better than they would any white man, anyway. You hear me? Cause the first thing he gonna do, “Man, I ain’t got nothing to say to you. ‘Cause I don’t trust you. You’re a cop! What you gonna do?” That’s they don’t wanna open the door for you. That’s why they scared.. to even... you know... We won’t even call on the police no more ‘cause they ain’t gonna see nobody but a whole gang of white folk. And then one ol’ Uncle Tom... here he come. We had an issue in the building one time, man. I’m telling the dude right after that beating, I’m like, “Man, I don’t even want to talk to you.” They had two white guys, one sergeant, one ol’ black little kid. He just standing around. I’m like, “Look man, look, I’m not even talking to neither one of y’all. ‘Cause y’all ain’t got no business even talking to me anyway. You know what I’m sayin? This here is about something else, much bigger than you. You know what I’m saying? You’re a police officer for the wrong reason, number one. You got authority and you want to be able to carry a gun and you want to be able to bully and push people around.” Put black people back in our neighborhoods, put the right politicians in office, and I guarantee... Here’s another thing for our brothers, when they first starting telling people that you had to stop disciplining your kids, telling the kids they could call 6-9-6 on your children, when I went to school we had tardy drills - in Patrick Henry - and if you were late in between classes you had three spats. Back in my day, the neighbor could tell you something. But when you start telling them to call 6-9-6 on your momma, you taking the authority away. You know what I’m saying? “That’s child abuse.” Child abuse my butt. Number one: we done got our butts whooped back in the day. Hey, we okay today and our children’s okay today. But what you did is say “Okay, we can’t discipline our kids no more so now they can do whatever they want.” Then you take away all the funding, you done knocked out all the damn programs, ain’t no city program, ain’t no after school, they ain’t even got no summer CYSC jobs no more. Now what you expect for these kids to do? Hang on the streets? Smoke dope? And shoot each other? ‘Cause you set this shit up.

Interviewer: Right.

Interviewee: You understand me? Now you look all down “U.” Do they got jobs? Everybody. You don’t see no black men wearing any of them goddamn yellow uniforms. All them big ol’ construction companies. You don’t see no black guys doin’ that. You don’t see no black man down town workin’. You see somebody pushing some brooms. I got four degrees, brother. And a man gonna tell me I’m overqualified for a job. How the hell can you be overqualified? I’m a state certified welder. I have a license to operate heavy equipment. They ain’t got shit out here I can’t move. I’m a framer by trade. A carpenter. I’m a welder by, a plumber by license. There ain’t too much I can’t do, man. I’m not no master, but I’m a jack, baby. And I mean, God gave me the ability. And I don’t even have a high school diploma, and I'm straight up, I can show you right now four certifications, baby. Fifty-one years old. I was born right here in Cleveland Metro, man. I love my city, man. You hear me? Ain’t nothing like this city. We’re the comeback kid, they call it the mistake by the lake, you call it what you want. We’re a strong, die-hard city ‘cause, guess what, if you can make it in Cleveland you can make it anywhere. My name is Melvin [indistinct] and you can quote me on that.

Interviewer: Appreciate it...

Interviewee: You heard me, doc? Put them [indistinct] in that! You heard? I bet they don’t wanna hear that! I bet they don’t wanna hear that! They gonna edit all that!

[laughing]

Interviewer: They need to hear it.

Interviewee: They gonna edit all that, doc! Aw hell no! Not uh.. He talkin’ about.. No...Not uh uh... No....

~ Unnamed, “Unnamed Oral History Interview,” A People's Archive of Police Violence in Cleveland, accessed April 26, 2017, http://archivingpoliceviolence.org/items/show/46.
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