Oscar Zeta Acosta on Ferguson
“Tell the pigs to quit vamping on us,” Henry says.
“Now, Mr. Mayor, I won’t stand for this,” Reddin says.
“Now, Tom, fellows, let’s try to be civil.”
“OK, Yorty, what is it? What do you want to talk to us about?”
“Like I said, can’t we try to get together and see what we can do? I’m willing to do it if you fellows are.”
“What specifically do you have in mind?”
“Well…I just don’t see what you fellows keep on holding so many demonstrations for. I know you got the right to do it…”
“If they’re peaceful, Mayor,” Reddin says.
“It’s the pigs that start the trouble,” Gilbert says.
“Mayor?” Reddin says. He pushes at his brass buttons.
“Now, Tom…What I want to know is…what do you think it’s going to get you if you keep marching around the police stations, the school boards…you know?”
“That’s our business, Mayor…Now do you have something specific? Or are we here just to size one another up?”
“Come on, Brown, come on!…I’m trying to tell you…I’m telling you, that picketing thing is over. All you’re doing is getting your own people in trouble. Now look…” he leans over toward me and lowers his voice, “the blacks picketed for years…for years. They marched and they did the very things you people are doing now…but you know something, and this is the honest-to-God truth…they didn’t get a thing until they had Watts! That is a fact! And I’m telling you, until your people riot, they’re probably not going to get a thing either! That’s my opinion.”
I stare directly into the wrinkled narrow green eyes of Sam-the-Straightshooter, a short John Wayne with a sincere simple honest smile. He is not blinking. He is telling me the truth.
–from Oscar Zeta Acosta, The Revolt of the Cockroach People (1973)