January 14, 1979…

January 14, 1979…That’s the day I lost my brother and my best friend…

Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, a program on television tonight, took a look at the decade leading up to the L.A. riots of 1992.  The documentary also examined the racial tensions of the time, along with  the rise of gangs, the crack epidemic, and the way the LAPD chose to clamp down on the violence…

Watching this documentary, after living through some of the events in prelude to the riots, sent me a most clear realization of how to address some of the inquiries of what to do to help in the process of healing, police reform, and racism dismantling in the minds and hearts of those most vulnerable to this disease…Listen and Watch…and absorb the history of Black America…through their pain, struggles and losses…

These are stories that must be told…by those who have lived through the injustices…in order to give life to these horrific incidents…so the viewers can live vicariously through those left behind to endure the pain of loss and continued injustices visited upon one…just because of the color of their skin…Walk a mile in their shoes…Change begins when you fully understand the need for change…become the experience…and awaken to become an advocate of Change…

With this revelation, I would like to share with you a letter written by my mother to the ACLU in New Orleans, Louisiana,  Dated February 27, 1979…appealing for their assistance in obtaining justice for the murder of her son….

Dear Reviewing Attorney,

My name is Gerlene M. Bangs Tate, and I am a Supervising Child Support Investigator with the Los Angeles District Attorney, Bureau of Child Support Operations.  I was referred to your office by the Los Angeles ACLU.

On January 14, 1979, in New Orleans, LA, My son, Stanley Joseph Bangs, born April 12, 1953, was shot and killed by the New Orleans police.

I first heard of the incident early Sunday morning…January 14, by my ex-sister in law, who lives here in North Hollywood…I was informed that I would have to come down to get the body released for burial.

Upon arriving in New Orleans January 16, I commenced to take care of business.  I was told by a relative, that I was to contact a Sgt. Gavin-Robbery Division…I never did talk or see him…but after numerous round arounds, I was interviewed by a  Sgt. Wayne H. Cooper-Homicide Division, who related the circumstances as follows:

The officers were called on a disturbance call by a family member to the residence.  Upon arriving, the officers were shown where my son had taken flight to the Mississippi River levee…The officers went to the foot or bottom of the levee and called to my son to come down, subsequently after throwing concrete at the police car, he ran down past the police car approximately 100 ft., turned around with both hands in the air, but still clutching two big pieces of concrete in each hand, approached the officers, they shot off a warning shot, and since he was right upon the officers, the second shot was in his chest…

Something made me ask Sgt. Cooper, “Are you sure they didn’t shoot him in the back?” He vehemently replied, “Oh, no.” I also asked if the officers had been aware of Stanley’s emotional state, would the officers have handled the situation differently.  He stated, “I doubt it.”

Enclosed is a copy of the death certificate showing death was caused due to two (2) gunshot wounds of the back.  This is so opposite to the information given that I feel very deeply that this matter certainly merits investigation, and most probably merits legal action on behalf of me, his sisters and brothers.

My son is dead.  He was a deeply troubled young man, immature in a lot of ways, and was emotional at times, but he was my son and I loved him.

The officers unknowing to me at the time of Sgt. Cooper’s “taped” interview with me had been advised of my son’s emotional and mental state, by his aunt, and they were concerned for his safety because he was not familiar with the area, therefore, being forewarned and being made aware of the situation they could have been able to deal effectively with him, without killing him in what seems to have been a wanton killing…

I plead with you to accept this case.  True it won’t bring my son back, but it may help to protect the rights and lives of other potential victims of hasty, police “justice!”

The police of New Orleans would not give me a police report, nor give me my son’s wallet and clothes he was murdered in…Sgt. Cooper informed me that I wouldn’t get them unless I got an attorney to get them.

I guarantee that if you accept this case, I will fully cooperate with you. Thanking you for consideration and a reply.

Very truly yours,

Mrs. Gerlene M. Bangs Tate

Three days before my brother left for New Orleans, we had a talk…He was at a crossroads in his life, and he wanted to visit relatives in Louisiana to clear his thoughts and decide what he wanted to do with his life…He was taking some college courses, school was out, and he wanted to formulate a plan for his future.

Whenever he made decisions or was troubled about something, or needed objectivity, he would call me or come see me to talk things out, or let me know of his plans…my brother was very loving and sensitive…he couldn’t understand how mom and dad could separate, if they loved each other…

The New Orleans police tried to push a “stereotypical”  defense in killing my brother…He was going to harm them with concrete, while running away from them! Sounds all too familiar…

Fast forward…

Rodney King received a beating within inches of his life…because he was “high on PCP.” Although when tested once at the hospital…there were no traces of “PCP” in his system.  His only crime was being born Black…George Floyd…crime…being born Black…Rayshard Brooks…crime…being born Black…Trayvon Martin…Amadou Diallo…Kenneth Chamberlin…Jonathan Ferrell…Eric Garner…Philando Castile…Breonna Taylor…Alton Sterling…Stanley J. Bangs…and it goes on and on and on and on and on…


No one is born a Racist…Teach the children well…so that they will remember acceptance and appreciation…and embrace and delight in diversity…

Dates of death because of the color of one’s skin…should not be a “remembrance.”

Change your shoes…and take a walk….




a day

June 2023
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