Get Out — From Under the Past

If Quanice Hayes had been given my brain, he would not have been shot by Portland police.

No, if this 17-year-old black male thought like I did, he would have never put a gun to a homeless man’s head, robbed him of his food stamp card and then later, as police tried to arrest him, reached towards his waistband as if he had a gun stashed there.

My brain would have known better. If I woke up in a black body tomorrow, I would not stare down a bunch of cops who wanted to arrest me. I would not return their commands to keep my hands up by looking like I was ready to grab a gun from my waistband and shoot back.

Everyone has an instinct for self-preservation.

Police officers (whatever their race or ethnicity) don’t want to be target practice for gunmen (whatever their race or ethnicity). Where was Hayes’ instinct for self-preservation? Stuck in the antebellum South? Stuck in last century’s “Straight Outta Compton?”

Hayes lived in progressive Portland, Ore., in 2017. Perhaps he had fantasized about a cop killing him: His family would score a financial settlement, and he would be a celebrity with thousands of people taking to the streets to protest his death. He could have been Portland’s answer to Michael Brown.

Given the publicity of black men who have died resisting arrest, such a fantasy is not unrealistic.

In Hayes’ case, the fantasy hasn’t measured up and probably won’t.

As one of his victims, a Hispanic man, told the Multnomah County Grand Jury: “I wasn’t only robbed at gunpoint. I was held hostage for an extended period of time.”

I mention the victim’s ethnicity because Hayes’ supporters and the media have made much of his blackness.

The victim, recently homeless because of a job loss, was living in his car parked near a Value Inn Motel. He testified that on the morning of Feb. 9, he woke up to someone knocking on his car window. He opened the window “and here comes the gun. … A .45-caliber gun coming at me. I know of guns because I’ve been in a military academy.”

Hayes told him, “You’re lucky you’re not dead right now because in Chicago we shoot you first, and then we rob you.”

The victim couldn’t know that it was mostly bluster. Hayes’ gun was a replica. It only fired BBs. Hayes wanted the victim to drive him around so he could rob people, but the homeless man had run out of gas and had no money, just a food stamp card.

According to the 509-page grand jury transcript released this week, Hayes tore the car apart trying to find something else to steal. After a half hour, Hayes put the gun in his waistband and warned the victim: “Don’t call the police. I see cop cars … driving around, I’m going to come back and put two in you.”

The victim waited about 15 minutes then went into the motel to call police. The officer who answered the call told the grand jury the man was visibly shaking and clearly frightened. To the officer, that underscored the legitimacy of the call. Man with a gun.

Meanwhile, Hayes was breaking into a woman’s car parked at Banfield Pet Hospital, trashing it. Then he pounded on the door of a black woman’s home and demanded to be let in. She called police. He broke into the house of an Indonesian woman who was not home. Her security alarm went off.

His spree eventually ended with him being shot. A replica handgun was found near his body. The Multnomah County Grand Jury declined to indict Portland police officer Andrew Hearst, ruling the shooting justified.

Hayes’ mother and protesters from Portland’s Black Lives Matter movement and Don’t Shoot Portland disagree.

On an especially gray, drizzly day about 200 people showed up for Hayes’ memorial service at the Philadelphia Community Missionary Baptist Church in Northeast Portland.

Pastor Roy Clay offered an open mic and invited speakers to “share a couple of minutes … what this young man meant to you.”

A woman stepped up and thanked everyone for coming out. Then it sounded like she referred to the “very violent young man” she had an opportunity to meet several years ago. Violent? Did she really call Hayes violent?

I was standing in the back, and as she went on, it was clear I had misheard. There would be no surprises in this memorial service. What she really said was that Quanice Hayes was “vibrant.” She repeated it.

“He was so vibrant. His hair was done. … He was doing things. I was so proud of him. I thought he was going in the right direction. … Whatever the reason, I hope that God has his soul… .”

His grandmother called him a fun-loving kid.

“I want you to know this child meant a lot to me…,” she said. “I am going to greatly miss him.” (According to the grand jury transcript, Hayes was still considered a runaway, having been reported missing last year.)

Hayes’ cousin, Terrence Hayes, gave a eulogy that included complaints that he can’t let his son play with toy guns because the police might fear for their lives. That a replica gun contributed to Quanice Hayes’ death was apparently lost on Terrence. Either that or guns have become an integral part of black culture.

Over the years I’ve been to many funerals for young black males who have been shot – by other black males, by anonymous shooters and by police. Hayes’ memorial service did not have foot-stomping rage nor a rousing send-off to the Promised Land. Instead there was weariness.

Could it be that even those who felt sadness at a mother’s and grandmother’s loss also silently believed this young man had brought them unnecessary grief by his behavior?

As the coffin bearing Hayes’ body was led out of the church and into a hearse, about 50 people gathered outside in a soulless and rote kind of protest: A woman with a bullhorn yelled, “Say my name!” and the crowd yelled back, “Quanice Hayes!”

Some of the protesters have been among those who have taken over Portland City Council meetings in the past couple of months, demanding the right to speak at length and demanding immediate reforms in the police bureau and immediate end to homelessness.

Hayes’ death will be filed away to later be brought out by protesters, politicians and media when convenient. His name will automatically be added to a list of other blacks killed by police, as if they were all one and the same, as if Hayes were Keaton Otis (killed after he shot and wounded a police officer), as if Hayes were Aaron Campbell (unjustifiably shot in the back with his hands behind his head; the city settled for $1.2 million).

A week before Hayes was killed, the movie “Get Out” was released, described by its screenwriter and director Jordan Peele as a horror movie made for blacks.

Had Hayes lived to see “Get Out,” he would have seen a world in which white people are out to get him. Every…single…white…person is a suspect in the oppression of black Americans.

In an interview with The New York Times, Peele (who is biracial) said he wanted to make a movie that “exposed ‘the lie’ of a post-racial America, one that grew after the election of Mr. Obama.”

Reviewers have focused on the racism of white liberals. When Rose, a beautiful young white woman, takes her black boyfriend home to meet her parents they and their upper-class friends fawn over him.

“I would have voted for Obama a third time if I could have,” the father says.

“It’s such a privilege to be able to experience another person’s culture,” he says later, showing off photos and multicultural mementos of his travels.

This is the perfect movie to watch in a Portland theater surrounded by nervous laughs from whites who have said such things to prove they are not racist. (Personally, I think everybody is racist, sexist, ageist, whatever. We all make snap judgments about one another, sometimes for good reason. It’s freedom of thought.)

For the visiting boyfriend in “Get Out,” the one note of alarm is that his white girlfriend’s parents employ a black housekeeper and groundskeeper, who exhibit a robotic subservience reviewers have accurately compared to the Stepford Wives.

Peele said the movie takes aim at what he called the “liberal elite.” That’s fair. But hasn’t he also noticed that some blacks need a white “other” to play the racist?

What about black elites like the culturally powerful hip-hop royalty? They, too, have made money off of black bodies. They have taught young men like Quanice Hayes how to swagger — even with a toy gun.

Peele didn’t make “Get Out” for someone like me, but I loved it. The movie is more thought-provoking than perhaps even he realizes.

He has created a world where whites can look in the mirror and not recognize the black face staring back at them, where a racist white girl can love her black grandmother and grandfather.

And something that Quanice Hayes might not have noticed had he lived to see this movie: The guy who saves the black hero wears a uniform and drives a car with a siren and flashing lights.

– Pamela Fitzsimmons

Related:

Delusions of Black Americans

The Ghosts of Evelyn Wagler

22 Comments

  • Retd. teacher wrote:

    Eight years ago I would’ve been first in line to see a movie like “Get Out.”

    I don’t need to be insulted anymore because of my skin color.

    I’m sorry about what happened to this kid. It seems I read in one of the news stories he was on drugs. Like you say, he may have had a death wish. I Can see how the media makes death look glorious to someone like Quanice.

  • According to the grand jury transcript, toxicology tests showed that Hayes had cocaine, benzodiazepine (a tranquilizer) and hydrocodone (pain pills) in his blood and urine.

    I didn’t include it, though, because virtually all of the victims and witnesses said Hayes didn’t appear to be high or under the influence. His armed robbery victim, who spent more than a half hour with him, said he was cool and calm and “acted like a pro.”

    The glorification of violent death — by the police or gangbangers — has only gotten worse since I worked in SoCal. Some of the funerals were so elaborate the media had to cover them. I remember one where the dead guy’s friends bragged that they made sure he had a “good sound system” because he said he wanted one at his funeral. They even talked about the music he wanted. Topping the list was “One Sweet Day” by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Look up the lyrics, and you’ll see why. These guys think they’re going to be shining down from heaven.

  • Retd teacher wrote:

    I went back listened to “One Sweet Day.” I remember when it was so popular, but I forgot how sad it was.

  • Her Facebook page is bursting with the gospel of black victimization, from the death of Biggie Smalls to the white racism of Donald Trump to the white racism destroying schools in Detroit and everything in between.

    Her belief in black victimization came, she said, at an early age when her mother read to her the book that would change her life: It Takes a Village, by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    Hillary’s book may have neglected to mention that black on white murder is wildly out of proportion: And how a black person is 27 times (at least) more likely to murder a white person than vice versa.

    As Ms Corinna Mehiel saw things in her own words:

    “This year has been exciting and terrifying. So many tragedies inflicted on the full spectrum of non-white males in my country.

    I have spent many days trying to understand this moment in our history. Feeling so proud of what we have all accomplished.

    Sobbing with the country at the death of the young, beautiful people in Orlando. Crying to my father after watching Philando Castile pass in real time in front of the whole world.

    His strong and beautiful girlfriend having the strength to show that story to an already grieving country.

    And through it all watching the women in my life spend the year in worried apprehension.

    Trying to be excited for the future, and all the while listening as others rallied around chants of hate and fear toward people of color, people of other religions, people of the lesser sex, people who don’t check one gender box.”

  • Thanks for that, Larry. Not surprisingly, I had never heard of her murder until you sent me that link. Had the races been reversed, it would have been a national story.

    What would Corrina Mehiel have done had she survived? Would she have forgiven her attacker and pleaded for leniency on his behalf?

    About a week ago, The New York Times ran still another op-ed pushing justice reinvestment, this one by a defense attorney who persuaded his client’s victim to forgive and seek a lighter sentence.

    It made me wonder if victims eventually will be required to forgive. Because of the politics involved, it won’t happen with rape or domestic violence cases, but I see it happening with the property crimes and even some acts of violence.

  • Pamela wrote:

    I found her obituary at pennlive.com. It says she “died unexpectedly.” I’ve always found that phrase curious in obituaries. We’re all expected to die.

    Anyway, the obit requests memorial to The National Organization for Women “to end the violence against women” or to V-Day, “a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls.”

    Perhaps that’s the angle she would have taken had she survived: It was all because she was female. It had nothing to do with some vicious thief willing to kill for property and money. It was all a gender thing.

    Violence against male victims will continue apace.

  • I do not believe that there has been a spike or increase in white on black race based crimes since the Trump election.

    Racial aggravation means votes which means power.

    I do believe that there has been a prolongation and perhaps acceleration of black on white crimes, however.

    The murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom some years back are what caught my attention. I simply do not believe that their murderers would have committed those horrors upon black Americans.

    I have read of other black on white crimes that are very nearly as drenched in evil as those of the Nashville victims. Although, admittedly, I know of nothing this side of the Balkans that is as ugly as the Christian/Newsom slayings.

    In my work I encounter working class and working poor blacks everyday and evening. The are predominately middle-aged and are unfailingly fair-minded and good people. When a black man acts out or gets ugly they are as dismayed and disgusted as I am.

    But, in a world where Maxine Waters, Tom Perez, and Keith Ellison are seen as the leadership and future of “social justice workers” and the central players in the Democratic Party . . . it is going to be race stoking until revolution.

    I do not think I would be able to sit through “Get Out” although when first I read of it I was eager to see it.

    As a small aside here is a story: years ago the adult son of one of the white Sony record execs who pushed violent rap music was taken captive by black thieves who wanted to clean out his bank accounts and etc. They got what they wanted but tortured him to death in the process.

  • Pamela wrote:

    It says something that I had no idea what you were talking about when you referred to Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom.

    Where to begin? The media’s favorite go-to word in these cases is “horrific,” but that can’t begin to describe what happened to that young couple. Had the races been reversed – had Christian and Newsom been black and their killers white – this couple’s story would be as well-known as Emmett Till’s (for good reason his mother insisted his coffin be left open).

    While googling Christian and Newsom I was reminded of Jonathan and Reginald Carr, two black brothers, who invaded a Wichita, Kansas home in December 2000 and sexually tormented three white men and two white women for three hours then drove them to a field and forced them to kneel in the snow. The Carrs shot and killed Jason Befort, 26; Brad Heyka, 27; Aaron Sander, 29; and Heather Muller, 25. Another young woman survived and ran naked through the snow for help.

    I was working on the city desk of a Washington state newspaper when the Carrs were finally convicted. I thought the story belonged on A-1 and that the race of all involved deserved a mention. The wire editor did not agree. When I brought up the James Byrd case, he said that was different because his assailants called Byrd “the n-word.”

    So it’s that simple, is it? Our media, with its glorious First Amendment, do a cowardly job of covering race because they are afraid of being called racist. The coverage is one-sided, and it helps breed hate.

    I’m sorry to say I also don’t know the Sony case you are referring to. I found something about the son of Time Warner’s chief executive being tortured with a knife into revealing his ATM password. No reference to race.

  • Excellent as always. The facts of the shooting reminded me of the Portland shooting of Aaron Campbell by Officer Frashour in January 2010. I wrote about it in somewhat similar manner.

    At the end I wrote “Given the circumstances, Mr. Campbell died just as if he had shot himself.” It seems true in this case too.

  • Pamela wrote:

    Thanks, Larry. I also found your blog entry in The O’s archives about Jesse Jackson’s attempt to get involved in the Campbell shooting.

    http://blog.oregonlive.com/oldtown/2010/02/jesse_jackson_why_is_he_here.html

  • I was mistaken about the exec being from Sony. I was referring to the case that you found. The victim was murdered, too.

    I believe Colin Flaherty is pushing a truth that society determinedly ignores. He focuses on this subject.

    I despise NPR.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz_6oe-GQZU&t=1s&spfreload=10

    I too read of the Carr case. The sexual degradation element was present there as well. Similarities exist between the Nashville case and the Kansas case.

    However, I consider the depravity and monstrousness present in the crime I note below to be of a different type or classification.

    To interject a wee caveat, Dr. William Petit, his wife Jennifer Hawke-Petit, and their two daughters, Hayley and Michaela were destroyed by white criminals in a horror filled manner that involved sex and particularity hideous violence.

    Why the facts of race crime in this country have been inverted is beyond my understanding.

    Twenty minutes ago I had a Samoan man thank me for running off a young black fellow who had been tormenting an older black gentleman a couple weeks back. People of color, colored people want to live in peace and go about their lives and enjoy the time that they have on this earth.

    Black youth crime is …

  • Pamela wrote:

    Just what the Ivy League needs: Another unthinking progressive boot-licker.

    You would think it would be harder to impress Stanford admissions than simply hitting the copy key 100 times and pasting “Black Lives Matter” in answer to a question.

  • Dr. Petit, a physician, who has become an advocate of capital punishment, has watched as the monsters who beat, raped, tortured, murdered, then set fire to his family were moved OFF death row when that state’s legislature decided the penalty was cruel and pointless.

    Here is the video of his wife, knowing her daughter is being held hostage, is forced to withdraw $15,000 and return to be murdered…

    https://www.nytimes.com/video/nyregion/1248069036568/bank-surveillance-tape.html

  • Retd. teacher wrote:

    Well, this has been an education. I hadn’t heard of any of these victims and the awful way they died. I guess the lesson for white victims, like you said could be what Emmet Till’s mother did.

    I don’t hate NPR, I’m disappointed in it and the other powerful media outlets who could do more to help us understand what’s happening.

  • I am an admirer of Heather MacDonald.

    A rather longish film of her recently speaking and answering questions at UCLA:

    https://www.thecollegefix.com/post/32035/

  • Pamela wrote:

    Last year when her book “The War on Cops” was published, I asked a friend of mine who knows MacDonald if she was going to do a book tour, and if so I hoped she would come to Portland. I thought she would be perfect for Powell’s — our “independent” bookstore.

    He contacted her and found out that she was not interested in coming to Portland. Perhaps just as well.

    It sounds like the protesters who shut her down at UCLA and Claremont may have been outside agitators. Some of the students in the link you posted were upset that they didn’t get to hear her.

    Nobody can know with absolute certainty why people voted for Trump instead of Clinton, but I suspect Black Lives Matter protesters played a big part. Bernie Sanders had the guts to walk off the stage when they tried to hijack his campaign. Clinton groveled to them.

    Just looking at the videotape in one of the links you posted a couple of days ago, showing black men taking over the streets, ripping clothes off of a white man — how many Americans (of any skin color) want to live like that? No history excuses it.

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali Australia Tour Cancelled: she’s basically a white racist.

  • German judge puts xenophobic German woman in her place:

    https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/04/21/german-judge-acquits-turkish-man-of-rape-after-4-hours-of-forced-violent-sex/

    Doubtless she was thinking in terms of white privilege.

  • I sent that link to several people I know who read a lot of news and asked them if they had heard about that case. None of them had. One pointed out that mainstream media would reject it as “a cultural microaggression.” Another who works in the media said it’s easier not to acknowledge those stories — unless there’s video involved or so many victims that it can’t be ignored.

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