IN YUNG GUNS WE TRUST
people get ready
n.b. Graffito on a low-rise social housing development in a beautiful, wooded district on the north side of Birmingham, Alabama. Not just scrawled on a wall, but painted large across the building.
At first, my response to these words was that this slogan, for it is big and prominent enough to be a political slogan, was an act of immature bravado, possibly delineating gang territory. However, this is not necessarily the case. Gang signs are usually more subtle, more discreet, almost meaningless to the naïve passerby, instantly recognisable to friend and foe.
Here in Birmingham Alabama, (the neatest, tidiest city centre in the whole of the USA as far as I have seen), there has been a long history of open warfare on people of colour by racist whites.
As a civil war was fought, as legislation was introduced, as civil rights were argued for and established, the racists have beaten, bombed and murdered people in this small city for speaking up for their basic rights as citizens of the USA. The racists in this city, made it a point to openly and brutally resist the changes USA society needed to go through to begin to live up to its constitutional promise, “all men are created equal.”
Birmingham, Alabama is a place of pilgrimage. A place to pay respect to the church-going children fire-bombed, the Freedom Riders set upon, the brave people who endured attacks by police dogs, batons and boots, our fellow human beings who were treated worse than dogs for boycotting, travelling, marching, sitting in, or simply praying.
This history of living memory does not just disappear overnight. It might be, given the attack on the Capitol Building in Washington DC on 6th January 2021, that some people do not feel entirely at ease with the increasing aggression of the extreme right.
It might be that the public murder of George Floyd and the deadly shootings of so many other black young people by police officers around the USA, has provoked some to think that if the ghastly NRA can argue guns are for defence, then these young people are not going to be sitting on their hands and hanging about for official help in policing their community.
In the USA those, who have made sure access to firearms is so easy, need to appreciate that self-defence means everyone has the right to be armed. These trusting in “YUNG GUNS” are taking the freedom to carry deadly weapons argument for defence to its obvious conclusion. If you believe you can’t trust the police, courts and the prison system to act humanely, who can you trust?
Then, after asking who do you trust, the next question needs to be “Who do you love?”
Unfortunately, sadly, awfully, I have since heard that the YUNG GUNS who had sprayed the blue paint on the wall, (barely visible on the brickwork in the photo above), had been enforcing their own form of terrifying justice locally.