Scoundrel Time

[after watching the Greensboro Police Department’s body camera footage of Anton Black’s arrest, cardiac arrest, and death]


these are the facts: / I am white / I am female / I am writing about the black male wearing all black / white caps on black warn of graphic content / you don’t have to watch / if you don’t want to / you can close the tab / minimize it / I am trying to understand / the apparently schizophrenic subject  / Anton Black / who was literally dragging down Sunset / the boy he called his brother / witnesses say / Black was erratic / swinging him all over the place / at seventeen seconds you can hear Black whisper / I love you / then he’s running wide open / his back to / who’s to blame / I watched all thirty-eight minutes and fifteen seconds of the footage / and the truth is / it gets dark so quickly / mid-September / in lot #2 where Black lives / where the crickets screech in loops / loud as worn-out drive belts / where the white arm enters the frame / beats glass into cascades of barbed stars in taser light / zoom to: / quivering coils / many white hands / this is what the camera shows / but it’s hard to see / to gain perspective / when you’re this close / when you can say / that officer was my son’s baseball coach /  and / I coached soccer with the deputy / or / I’ll make it to her wedding / because I will live / that long / at 3:03 / they’ve got Black / against the wall / knee to groin / they’ve got him / in cuffs and shackles / strapped / Black is breathless as they prone him out / and the screen turns black / come and get me / come and get me / come and get me / is all you can hear / no— it’s  forgive me / forgive me / forgive me / I love you / to his mother at the door / a frayed white heart / stitched to her shirt / he’s turning dark / between compressions / I’m worried about this young man / whose face they’ve pixelated / were his eyes beneath / open blank or closed sleeping? / Is he breathing yet? / at nineteen his chest is still boyishly smooth / not so far from his mother’s hands / I know my understanding of this is limited / I have no claim to Black / so why keep looking / if not to keep him in sight / to keep writing / the sword light split night to bone / which is to say: I see you / I am trying to




  1. All of the words in italics are taken from body camera footage of the arrest of Anton Black on September 16, 2018 in Greensboro, Maryland. The video appeared in the story, “Anton Black case: Greensboro police release body-camera footage,” by Talia Richman and Jean Marbella, and appeared inThe Baltimore Sun on January 24, 2019:


  1. The writer consulted the timeline of body camera footage, which was provided by the Caroline County State’s Attorney’s office to The Star Democrat, who published it on January 23, 2019:


  1. Black’s “erratic” behavior is described in the September 17, 2018 article by Jack Moore, “Md. teen dies in custody after attempted kidnapping of 12-year-old boy”:






Image By: Amanda Newell