It is heartbreaking that I have to tell my brother to be cautious around the police. I remind him often that there are people that would go out of their way to harm or to kill him based on the color of his skin. There are many more who would do nothing to protect or defend him if he were in trouble. The same is true for my wife, sister, brother in-law, and other loved ones. Because I am white I am rarely, if ever, concerned for my safety. I do not worry about being profiled and harmed by police. I do not have to fear for my life. I am not expected to be a criminal, an underachiever, or dangerous. People do not placate me and demean me with insults or false praise because of my race. I am not caricatured, undervalued, or objectified. I am not continually given the message that my experience is untrue or irrelevant.
I wrote this song in the weeks after the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Each reference in the song is tied to a story of police violence that actually happened to loved-ones or has been reported in the media. They are all recent.
Policeman I see you from my window each day
I see you in the street and down on the subway
I see the sweat on your brow and the strain on your face
I see the fear in your eyes but I still want to say
Who are you?
Will you shoot my brother? Will you rape my sister?
Will you tear my child from the arms of its mother someday?
You would choke my friend to death in the street
But you wouldn’t do the same to me
Policeman I see your lights flashing today
I hear your sirens come on, hear them scream out in pain
I see you inside your car, I see you concentrating
I know you’re in a rush, but I still want to say
Who are you?
Will you bludgeon my wife? Will you tear up her clothes?
Will you beat down my student? Will you shatter his bones?
You would drag my neighbor out in the street
But you wouldn’t lay a hand on me
No, you wouldn’t try to break my neck
Over an exposed breast, a look, or a cigarette
Policeman I see that you’ve had a long day
I know you harden your heart to ease your conscious away
Justify the lives taken by the ones that you save
But the child in the street is one that you’ve slain
And if the child looked like mine he wouldn’t be on the pavement
You murdered a child you should be so ashamed
How could you?
Who are you?
Words and Music by Benjamin Verdoes
Recorded, Mixed, & Mastered by Ephriam Nagler
Recorded at Robert Lang Studios
Released on Brick Lane Records
Art design by Mandilla
Video editing by Benjamin Verdoes
Additional video effects by Tristan Seniuk
Special thanks to Ifrah Ahmed, Nathan Quiroga, & Kirt Debique