Yesterday evening on my way to go pick up some food I ran into the OG Rastaman Bernell. Most people around my way know who I am referring to because he was always outside, no matter the weather holding a sign of some sorts.
On winter days you might see him holding a sign with Bible scripture, seemingly minding his own business. Not being overall arrogant about his position. Just publicly voicing his opinion. Although his approach was a bit more radical or more eccentric in ways. He was just doing him.
Lately he had been holding signs for political campaigns. Earlier in the year you would see him outside with a Vote Lena Taylor sign during Senator Taylor’s Mayoral runs all over the city. The man got around. Earlier today he had mentioned to me “you wouldn’t guess the amount of hate I received from Black people.” In response to going out in the streets with a sign in show of support for Senator Lena Taylor’s Mayoral run. I wondered why, but truly I didn’t have time to ponder the thought as I was in a rush and wanted to get some words about his latest controversial political stance. The juice.
Just days before I had seen a Facebook post with the caption “hero” of an image with the Ras holding his latest political sign in support of Donald Trump. Along with the Ras and his unpopular sign there was a guy next to him with a sign saying “sike!” Sike, being a term used in our community like white folks say “not!”. You get it?
Yesterday, Wednesday July 22nd I was driving to the grocery store and I saw the Ras sitting on the bus stop on Humboldt & North so I decided to stop and ask him about what I saw on Facebook and why he was holding the Trump sign? Honestly, I just wanted to hear his side of the story because you know how crazy the internet can get! I had to drive off due to traffic so he quickly told me to stop by his place the next day, which was today, Thursday July 23rd.
Love it or hate it I wanted to know this brothers story and as to why he felt the way that he felt. I felt he deserved more than to be made an internet mockery because he had been seen in the streets lots of times before with signs that the people supported. Besides being a Black man is more than just the obvious. At times given the decisions we as Black men have to make while surviving daily in America the mind of the Black man can consist of multitudes of things.
So this morning I set out for a run. After completing my run I remembered that I was to stop over to see Ras Bernell and fortunately when I looked up I was right near where he said his shop was.
Without even knowing exactly where I was, I looked to my left and there he was sitting in a white chair like he was waiting for me. Crazy, right! I approached him and re introduced myself. We had not formally known each other by name before. Always, when I would see him with a sign that I was in support of. I beeped! When I would see him with a sign that I didn’t support. I didn’t! I might think to myself like “bro is trippin”, but I always showed him his respect though, always.
I reminded him of our conversation a day earlier and my purpose for stopping by. He showed me around his shop “Expressions Journal”, a modest shop filled with a his hand painted signs. He expressed to me that he also was a media brand and I could sense that he wanted to get a feel for who I was and my actual purpose of wanting to film him. I now can imagine the types of people he may have had to encounter on the daily being a very vocal person in his political views while being a very public person as well.
He mentioned that he didn’t have much at all and lived “off the grid”. I needed a napkin to wipe my phone and he had neither napkin nor tissue. Instead he gave me a piece of cloth cut from an old shirt. My phone was wet from sweat while being in my pocket from my run and I needed to use it to record him.
After retrieving the cut piece of cloth and handing it to me I wiped my phone and started to film. Although it took a few takes because he wanted to be precise and prepared in what he was to say, I bared with him. We were running short on time at the moment. As I began to film I was shocked. I had no clue up till a day previous that he was around town with a pro Donald Trump sign and I wanted to know why, obviously! A Black man about town with a pro Trump sign is something to find out the “why’s” about. So here he is and this is his why!
I also wanted to get some words on the stir that was caused over the internet days earlier about the image on Facebook with him and his Trump sign and the guy standing next to him. So I did and here that is!
After I captured the footage I admit I was shocked. I didn’t know if I wanted to post it or not because of course since this is my site and mostly my views and opinions people may feel that this is coming from me.
However in this case I just had a sixth sense of sorts to capture this mans perspective on his viral situation and why he felt the way he did about the upcoming election. I wanted to hear his truth. If we all don’t see eye to eye with each others views than we can agree to disagree. Period.
No less than two hours after I left from filming Ras Bernell I had heard word from Facebook that the someone in the area that Ras Bernell stays in had been shot. To my surprise it was Ras Bernell. The moment I had read the news I was attempting to upload the above videos used in this post onto my laptop for use.
This original post was not meant to be in past tense. It was originally meant to be based in the present. Since Ras Bernell was living off of the tech grid I told him that as soon as I got the post up I would stop by and show it to him.
Unfortunately before I could get both the videos uploaded and the post completed, Ras Bernell Tremmell died from gunshot wounds inflicted earlier this afternoon. He was murdered right outside of his shop where we were just speaking. His home. Seemingly these were his last words.
He took his time to think about what he was going to say and I let it him have the floor. He was adamant, poised and well articulated.
He also mentioned not to make any video posts longer than 3 minutes. For humans don’t pay attention to long videos. I applaud you if you’ve read this far.
Ras Bernell Tremmel died today, Thursday July 23rd. Rest In Peace.