Two Years before Ferguson, Mo hit the headlines, Bay Area Law Enforcement Officer and Artist, Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira of Flipsyde wrote “Cops and Robbers,” a 17-character one man show that seems to dramatically mirror the spin of Ferguson.
If the underlying racial tensions of Ferguson, Mo had been addressed sooner would Michael Brown be alive today? The absolute answer may never be known, but one law enforcement officer, rapper, and playwright, “Jinho The Piper” Ferreira,” has been on a crusade for dialogue among law enforcement, media and community since writing “Cops and Robbers” a 17-character one-man show that examines an “officer involved shooting” and its impact.
The play written in 2012 in four days as a way for Ferreira, an artist who has toured internationally with groups such as the Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Lion and others, to vent creatively as he absorbed the realities of law enforcement and community impacted by violence. “Cops and Robbers” is an appeal for people to talk to each other about the violent realities in America and their personal responsibility for change.
The sad and tragic death of Michael Brown and the unrest that ensued could be considered “life imitating art” when one reads the script.
Excerpts from “Cops and Robbers:”
The Lieutenant: “I don’t give a damn if all he did was steal a bag of chips, I want it, I wanna spin it, and I wanna get it to that #$@% journalist immediately she’s killing us out there”!
The Minister (Community Leader): “They say the young brother is a street hustler. Well I know of another street hustler, his name is Jay Z. So they don’t know what this young brother could become….the greatest purveyor of violence as we know it is the government of the United States of America.”
Rob Bob (Conservative Talk Show Host): “God help us, I can hear ‘em now. They’re probably down there right now shouting ‘Oh the brotha man. The brotha man had his hands up, and the police man was shootin’ him in the back’. Gimmie a break!”
The parallels of “Cops and Robbers” to the unfolding news in Ferguson are almost prophetic. Local San Francisco CBS Journalist Chistin Ayers spoke with Ferreira about the play and its significance in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting and other police involved shootings.
“It’s uncanny seeing Piper’s work play out almost beat by beat in the streets of Ferguson,” said Ami Zins, co-director with her husband Lew Levinson of “ Cops and Robbers.” “It is surreal. Anyone not knowing it was written in 2012 could think, it’s was written about Ferguson.”
From art studios like photographer Jim Dennis’ Emeryville loft, to the Malonga Center for the Arts, to jails to youth conferences and now the Marsh in Berkeley, Piper performs the words of his play he hopes will bring light to the heat of racial tensions as people are moved to take personal responsibility.
“This play has many dimensions. It forces the audience members to look deeply into themselves and question parts of their beliefs they have long ago accepted as truths. I dedicate this work to those in search of truth. I dedicate it to Alaysha Carradine, Chauncey Bailey and Oscar Grant; All who have had their lives stolen, whether their lives were taken by a man in a uniform or not. I dedicate it to all the little girls being forced to sell their bodies right now. I dedicate it to all of us affected by violence. I dedicate it to change, “said Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira.
Ferreira’s “Cops and Robbers” one man show expanded to a book co-written with his wife educator Dr. Dawn Williams Ferreira, “Cops and Robbers: Past, Present and Future,” that includes curriculum to use the book as a tool to teach non-violence. It was released in May along with a CD of the Play and a single “Believe” from the “Cops and Robbers E.P.
Returning from Rio de Janeiro, where he had a cultural exchange meeting with Mayor Eduardo Paes’ ExioRio staff, Ferreira hopes his message of nonviolence via authentic public discourse will catch on wherever there is violence.