Dijon Kizzee. Los Angeles. 8/31/2020

Another Black man killed. Ten shots fired, said a neighbor.


The investigation is still under way but this is what I’ve read in the press.

Mr Kizzee, 29, is riding a bike when a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s patrol car observes that he is in violation of a vehicles code. When they attempt to stop him he runs away.


Black man on a bike in apparent violation of a vehicles code = probably can’t afford whatever it is he has to do to be in compliance.


He is not bothering anyone.


Blacks are very wary of police interventions, a legacy of years and years of injustice.


The two officers inside the patrol car as they observe Mr Kizzee riding his bike.

Officer 1 – there he is, breaking the law. Have to stop him.

Officer 2 – but should we? He’s not bothering anyone, probably barely scraping a living.

Officer 1 – an infraction is an infraction is an infraction.

Officer 2 –  dude, in this climate, with people on the edge, with so many incidents, I say let it go. It’s nothing.

Officer 1 – what if he’s carrying a weapon?

Officer 2 – What if he is, he could just be transporting it from one place to the other, or he’s just needing it to feel secure, who knows?

Officer 1 – buddy, I don’t know about you but I didn’t sign up for this job to be a social worker, so we’re stopping this guy. Have to protect the community.

We know what happened next.

Mr Kizzee didn’t heed the call to stop, the officers chased him, then confronted him, Mr Kizzee reportedly struck one of them in the face (the officers were not carrying body cameras), ran off again, more chasing, Mr Kizzee drops a bundle of clothes he was carrying and it reveals a gun.

The officers shoot and kill him.



There’s a gap in there, right?

Yes. There is no mention of Mr Kizzee even reaching for the gun dropped with his clothes.

But shots were fired.

Ten shots. Not two four six or eight but Ten.

Just as a precaution. Right.

Something wrong there.

Yes. Recklessness. Impulsiveness.

Should Mr Kizzee have stopped when asked? Yes Yes Yes. By all means, stop when a policeman orders you to.

But there has to be a place for balanced judgment.

Life can’t be this cheap.

Mr Kizzee was a man. A poor man, likely. A Black man. The bike was probably the only means of transportation he could muster.

He deserved a little break.

How many people are moving around at this very moment in any city with a gun in their vehicles? Probably thousands. But they are not as poor as Mr Kizzee. They have that extra layer of protection that money gives them.

It is heartbreaking.

Yes, we need law and order, but we have to cut a little slack to those who are not making it.

Or to those who are likely to distrust the police. Or to those who may have poor judgment.


We need police, yes, but we need officers who think.

What happened to police leadership? With all that is happening in our nation today, did they not find it in themselves to take time to anticipate events, to take time to speak to the officers about exercising extra caution?

Ten shots. Ten. 10.

And Mr Kizzee wasn’t even holding a gun.

There’s something so wrong.

An investigation will follow, surely, and the officers will likely be absolved of any wrongdoing.

And Mr Kizzee’s life is lost.

He may not have been making any significant contribution to society but his was a life.

And that should be enough to command respect. Just that alone.

What cheapened his existence?

Let us stop. Think.

And may the name Kizzee forever prompt us to do so.

Which is why protests are justified.

And why looting and destruction of property are not.

Not, because to do so is to demean the loss of Mr Kizzee.

We don’t know at what stage of existence Mr Kizzee was but what is certain is that he didn’t need a bullet. Or ten.

He needed something else.

Can we remind ourselves of that?

To the officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s department: we need you but, please, think and feel, for those that you shoot are your brothers and sisters. Sometimes flawed, as we all are, but still your brothers and sisters.

And fellow Americans.

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for a Nation and other books. Available on Amazon.


Dear Amy


You’ve made your decision. And I think you are wrong.

The cruelty of some police officers has brought to the surface one aspect of the repression under which we live. There is a measure of freedom in our country but there is much political repression as manifested by the vast differences in the quality of our schools and the profound disparity in longevity, access to health care, housing and opportunity between sectors of our nation.

Racial differences are a way to direct that repression, and African Americans bear the brunt of it. That does not mean, however, that it should fall to an African American to lead the effort to remedy the problems.

That distinction should fall to the person presently most qualified.

The reason you were in contention to be the Vice Presidential candidate owed to your performance during the primary campaign. You had distinguished yourself by your pugnacity and balanced approach to difficult matters.

That has not changed.

Other candidates came and went but you persisted.

So why disqualify yourself?

A fair allocation of resources is an urgent matter in our country, and it will take contending with reluctant and entrenched interests to push through the needed changes and make them stick.

That’s where your pugnacity comes in.

Though Trump continues to make one error after another, it is not a certainty that Biden will become the next president so we will need a strong ticket that appeals to a majority of Americans to elect him.

Your performance as a prosecutor in Hennepin County in Minnesota proved to be flawed when you declined to file charges against officers involved in the death of African Americans. That was 20 years ago. You then embodied strong community biases. But you now convey the sense of having evolved.

That quality is essential to persuade all of those who have yet to evolve, to adopt a fair and non discriminating frame of mind which will be needed to push through critical reforms.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada wore a black face at a party when he was younger and later apologized. So have others.

There is no purity. There is, instead, the willingness to accept our mistakes, confront the prejudices we grew up with and work with them.

I think you have done that and are doing that. The task never ends.

So don’t take yourself out of the contest to become Biden’s VP. Put yourself back in. Call him back and say you’ve reconsidered. Great saints were great sinners.

It is laudable that you wish to defer to an African American woman insisting that there are plenty who’re qualified for the job, and I agree that there are. But you have been in the thick of the fire and learned a good deal along the way.

Given the polarization Mr Trump has fostered, a white woman in the Democratic ticket will have greater appeal for the undecided voters than an African American woman would.

Democrats need to win in November. We have to do that first.

Should that happen, the woman candidate Biden chooses will get a chance to pick an African American woman to be her running mate in 2024, should Biden not wish to run again, or in an environment more receptive to women candidates, face an African American challenger.

There is a profound sense of renewal flowering in our country. The brave youth of this nation is leading a vigorous movement. They will need people with much experience and a commitment to reform so that their efforts are not wasted.

You have a chance to be a leading figure in the tough task ahead. Don’t sit this out. Fight the good fight. Biden will make his choice but don’t you step back.

Later today, some of the best our country has to offer will be protesting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where the President will hold a rally. He has already warned that protesters will not be treated with a kind hand. It is difficult to accept that our president is so willing to ignore the spirit of justice that animates the protests. He can do so, because he seems incapable to accept their courage. When he sees the protesters, instead of being struck by their willingness to step front for what they believe, he is filled with envy.

I say envy because it is unacceptable that, in the face of protests across this nation, he has yet to muster the strength to address us all and say, ‘we will do what we must to bring justice to our land’.

As I write this blog, just hours before the protesters convene in Tulsa, it is my fervent hope that no one is injured or killed.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’, available on Amazon.


My Definition of Racism

Racism is a false belief, born out of a desire to prematurely close the inquiry into what makes each of us human. At the root of such desire is fear – fear of knowing the other – which when unexamined leads to their devaluing, their mistreatment, their abuse and death.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’, available on Amazon.

The Protests. The Looting. What is Justified?

The protests are. The looting is not.

African Americans are justified in their rage at how they have been treated by the police. They are justified in clamoring for fairness, for dialogue, for the end of prejudicial behaviors. They are justified in their call for prompt review of cases where improprieties or sheer cruelty have been present.

Yes, they are.

But as riots and wanton destruction spread across our land, I am disturbed by the lack of leadership to call the nation to its senses.

Why hasn’t our President been a President?
Why hasn’t he held a national broadcast calling for whatever actions are needed to stop the unfairness from continuing? Why hasn’t he called for police reform on a national level? Why hasn’t he looked us in the eye and acknowledged that something has been very wrong for George Floyd to have died as he did in Minneapolis.

And why hasn’t the African American leadership of the country stepped front and asked that the looting stop right now?

That is a responsibility that should not be shirked.

We need action now.

We need dialogue.

People have the right to protest, and loudly so, but not to loot, not to steal, not to destroy.

We do not need silence from our leaders, whatever their color. What is the point of letting a deeply flawed President continue to embarrass himself by his repeated blunders?

The nation is in flames and he has yet to step up and say, ‘Yes, protesters, there is something wrong, yes, and I too watched the video of George Floyd’s death. I, too, fellow Americans, felt the suffocating pain of his last moments as he lay pinned down by the knee of an officer with no regard for the damage his action might be inflicting. I too felt the anguish.’

But our President cannot say that because he lacks that depth of feeling. It is simply not in him.

Calls have gone out for him to address the nation, but as of this writing he has yet to do so.

There is a huge void of leadership in the country.

Someone has to step in. If we feel at a loss then let us reach back into our recent history.

And so I assure you, that Marin Luther King would have by now, stood up on a doorstep somewhere in Minneapolis and addressed the entire nation, whites, blacks, Latinos, Asian, vehemently asking, with all the power he could muster, that we show restraint, that the difficult time we are now living calls for reflection, for feeling the fullness of our hurt, asking that we reflect on how all of us have been deeply offended by the violence of some police officers and, even beyond that, that we are deeply offended by the institutionalized violence that leads to lack of opportunity in our land, uneven health care and education.

Martin Luther King would not have played it safe, holding back to see how much more our flawed President will do in his path to self destruction.

So, please, dear leaders, someone, no matter what your color, step up and call upon the spirit of the man who gave us the glorious words, ‘I have a dream, that one day in America we will be judged by the strength of our character and not the color of our skin.’

Someone, please, in this hour of need, someone with access to the media, please step up and do the right thing.

Oscar Valdes is the author of ‘Psychiatrist for A Nation’ available on Amazon.


Min and Ting. Two Hong Kong Protesters. (the day after a protest turned violent at the airport)

Min is a young man, Ting a young lady, both 24 and fellow students at the university. Min is lying in bed with his broken arm resting on his chest. It is a small windowless room in his parents’ small apartment. His arm was broken 3 days before in a confrontation with police at a train station. Ting has just arrived and sits in a chair at his bedside. 

Ting – How is your arm?

Min – Better. Were you at the airport yesterday?

Ting – I was.

Min – What happened?

Ting – It got out of hand.

Min – I’d been worried about that. When things get too heated people lose control.

Ting – It shouldn’t have happened.

Min – It shouldn’t have. (he gives her a long look). You’re going back?

Ting – Yes.

Min – You’re strong.

Ting – We have to stand up to them.

Min – I know. But I worry that we’ve gone too far.

Ting – I worry about it, too.

Min – But you’re still going back?

Ting (smiling) – Yes.

Min repositions his arm.

Ting – When will the cast come off?

Min – Six weeks.

Ting – Better a fractured arm than a fractured head.

Ming – I know. I raised my arm just in time. Otherwise it would’ve been my head.

Ting – And you said it wasn’t a policeman?

Min – No. He was a thug. Hitting us while the policemen looked the other way. It was like 15 of them. Just came straight at us.

Ting – You’re brave.

He smiles.

Min – I’m glad you think so. First he hit me in the ribs, took my breath away, then he aimed for my head. He was so quick. I barely had time to cover.

Ting – I’m glad it wasn’t worse.

Min – Me too.

Ting – If we don’t fight who will? Our parents are too old.

Min – They’re paying the bills.

Ting – Yes, that too.

Min smiles up at Ting.

Min – I’m glad you came to see me.

Ting – Of course. You would’ve done the same for me.

Min – I would.

She raises her open palm and they slap in high five style.

Ting – You think Xi will send in the troops?

Min – If he does it will be brutal. Tiananmen all over again. What are the people in the mainland thinking?

Ting (shrugging, pensively) – Who knows what twist Beijing is putting on the story. Their lives are so controlled. Everything so censored.

Min – Have you been?

Ting – Yes. Three times. Last time was a year ago. Went to visit a cousin in Shanghai.

Min – You could tell the difference?

Ting – Right away. Cameras everywhere. Everyone under surveillance. Suffocating. That’s how it felt to me.

Min – We’re fighting for all the Chinese, aren’t we?

Ting – Yes. Even if they don’t appreciate it.

Min looks away for a moment.

Min – They just don’t know what they’re giving up.

Ting (shakes her head) – I think they know… but they figure there’s a price to pay for their physical comforts and they pay it.

Min – What do they say about Xi changing the constitution so he can keep getting reelected until he dies?
Ting – Oh well.

Min – Will they care if Xi sends in the troops?

Ting lowers her eyes for a moment.

Ting – Maybe some.

Min – I was thinking of Prague before you came… August 1968… when the Russians invaded.

Ting – We’re doing it for us. And China did sign a treaty with the British guaranteeing our rights until 2047.

Min – Xi laughs at it. You think the world will stand by us?

Ting – Some will. The many won’t. We’re on our own. if you lose an eye, you won’t get it back, no matter who stands by you.

Min – I’m so sorry for that girl.

Ting nods slowly.

Min – Did you know her?

Ting – No. All I know is she was giving first aid to a protester on the ground.

Min runs his hand slowly over the cast in his arm.

Ting – Maybe if you’ve never known freedom it’s easier to put up with people controlling you. But if you’ve known freedom… you fight to keep it.

Min – Even if you’ve never known it, you yearn for it. It’s essential to being human.

Ting – The spirit of George Orwell is with us.

Min – Yes it is.

Ting – One day I will write too.

Min – I would love to see that.

Ting – Thank you. I have to go now.

Min – Back to the airport?

Ting – Yes.

Min – Do you have to?

She looks at him and smiles.

Ting – They’re expecting me.

Min – I wish you wouldn’t go.

Ting reaches over and caresses Min’s face.

Ting – You are sweet.

Min – The struggle is bringing us close.

Ting – It is.

Min – Will you be safe and not do anything crazy?

Ting – I will be safe… and not do anything crazy.

Min – Promise?

Ting – Promise.

She takes his hand in hers and kisses it. Then she rises and crosses to the door. She looks back at him and waves a slow goodbye.

Min – Will you call me when it’s done?

Ting – I will.

She exits.