Black Lives Matter
Growing up my father was my superhero. He worked for the city as a sanitation specialist, and he worked as a bouncer on the weekend. All the kids used to make fun of me because my father was “the trash man”, but I never cared. Unlike most of my associates my father was a very active father. He was the man of the house. My mother worked as a teacher. I was blessed to have both of my parents in the house with me growing up.
“The last thing we need in this world is an uneducated Black man or woman. Black people don’t have the option to be stupid” my father always said. My father stressed the importance of education to my siblings and myself. He was always reminding myself and my siblings how important it was for us to know our rights.
I remember when my older brother Kendell Jr turned 16 years old. My parents bought him a used Honda Accord. My father would often pretend to be a police officer and he would pull my brother over to teach him how to act when he interacted with the police. My father would drive behind my brother and then flash his lights to signal my brother to pull over. When my brother pulled over my father would step out of the car just like he was a police officer.
“License and registration” my father would say when he walked up to my brother’s car. My father taught my brother to always keep his license and registration visible in the car. My father told my brother if he kept his license in his glove box he was asking to be murdered. All it would take was one officer who “felt afraid” and my brother’s life would be over. That’s what my father stressed to my brother.
“Good afternoon officer. Please tell me why I am being stopped” my brother said carefully to not break character.
“License and registration boy I’ll ask the questions” my father would say not breaking his character.
My brother would hand my father his license and registration, and then he immediately put his hands on the steering wheel. My brother was careful not to make any sudden moves so that the officer could not say he feared for his life.
My father would look at my brother’s license and registration, and then hand it back to my brother.
“Where are you headed tonight boy” my father asked, still in character.
“I’m on my way home from work officer” my brother replied.
“You were doing 60 in a 55mph lane boy.” said my father.
“I am sorry officer I did not realize I was going that fast” my brother said like he was taught. My father told us never to argue with the police. My father said even if we knew the police was lying to just accept the ticket and go to court.
“Don’t give these people a reason to kill you” my father always said to my siblings and myself. .
“Do you mind if I search your vehicle? It shouldn’t be a problem right boy? You don’t have any drugs or guns right” my father said still in character.
“No sir I don’t have anything in my car, and you can’t search my car without a warrant.” My brother stated.
After my brother mentioned a warrant my father broke character, and smiled.
“Son tell me why the officer is not allowed to search your vehicle” my father said. Every moment was a lesson with my father. He always had something up his sleeve.
“Sir the fourth amendment states “each man’s home is his castle, and is secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government” my brother repeated for the millionth time.
“This is your car not your home son is the 4th amendment still valid?” my father asked.
“Yes sir my vehicle is my property. The government can’t search my property without a warrant or probable cause, and that officer didn’t have either so therefore he can’t search my vehicle” my brother said.
After those words left my brother’s mouth my father smiled again. He was a proud father, and proud of his children for being so smart. My father felt as though none of his children would ever be a “trash man”. My father wanted his children to be lawyers, and judges. My father wanted his children to change the world.
Every year my father took my younger brother Kareem, my older brother Kendell, and my baby sister Kaneince and I to the fair. Every year my father would buy us unlimited tickets so that we could ride all the rides as many times as we wanted.
One night my father went out to a bar with his friends. Once a month my father and his friends would get together to drink and watch sports. My father however never drank, but that didn’t stop him from going out and having a good time.
My father went out that night June 15 2000, and he never came home. The story that is always told was my father was shot 10 times by a police officer. I was 10 years old when I lost my father.
Due to the fact that my father was the only friend who was not drunk he was the designated driver. My father and his friends were stopped by the police. My father was sober and prepared to face the officer. When asked by the officer to provide a copy of his license and registration my father complied with the officer fully.
“Be honest with me and let’s save some time. Do you or does anyone in your vehicle have any open warrants?” The office asked my father.
“No sir” my father responded to the officers.
Unbeknownst to my father one of his drunk friends did have an outstanding warrant for child support. My father’s friend Charles Rickerson was currently behind in child support in the amount of $150,000 for his 11 children. Charles slipped and fell at work and hurt his leg and his back when he landed on a cinderblock. He was in the process of suing the company and applying for disability, and Charles was flat out broke. Daddy paid for his drinks, and food to get his mind off of his situation.
Charles became nervous and tried to escape while the officer was talking to my father. As soon as Charles opened the door the officer began shooting. The officer shot his gun into the car emptying the clip killing my father, killing the passenger, and grazing Charles in his shoulder.
Charles’ horrible decision took my father’s life. The officer claimed he was scared and thought he heard a gunshot. The gunshot that he thought he heard was Charles opening the door. Charles thought running would help him escape going to jail over child support. Unfortunately for Charles he went to jail for child support, and resisting arrest. Unfortunately for my mother, my siblings and I we lost the only man that ever loved us. We lost our king, our protector, and our provider. We lost our daddy over a misunderstanding.
After my father was killed the news ran the story everywhere. My father became a hashtag. Every time I tried to turn on the television I saw my father’s face everywhere.
“Last Night Kendall Richard Hampton Sr. a local garbage man was shot 10 times during a routine police stop” the headline read”.
“Local Garbage Man” was how the news chose to remember my father. My king was referred to as the “local garbage man”. I still can’t even find the correct words to describe the pain and hurt I felt reading the headline. The world would never know my father for who he truly was to his family and friends. The world would never see my father for the strong and proud man that he was to everyone who met him.
The newspaper, and the local news station used an old mugshot photo of my father for all the stories. My father was arrested when he was 21 for narcotics distribution charges. The charges were later dropped against my father due to lack of evidence. Once my father came home he changed his life. He left the street life alone. Now in his death the mistake he made as a child was being broadcasted. Everyone had an opinion about my father.
The officer who shot my father spent a total of 8 months on a paid leave. He maintained that he feared for his life. Every time I think about the officer going home to his family I break down and cry because I will never see my father again. My father won’t be there to walk me down the aisle or to see me graduate from college. My kids will never get to meet their grandfather.
My brother Kendall Jr. was so hurt by my father’s death that he dropped out of school. My brother turned to drugs, and to street life without the guidance of my father. My brother became so full of hate and pain that he was no longer the big brother that I once looked up to, and needed. When my father was killed the brother that I knew and loved died as well. My mother did not say a word for the first year after my father was murdered. She couldn’t talk without crying. She lost her king in such a violent way. After losing her king, his picture was plastered everywhere. His name and reputation were tarnished. My heart broke for my mother. She was in so much pain. She was no forced to be the man of the house.
End of Part One