I don’t think most white folks will get it – why black folks are so distrustful of police officers, law enforcement in general, and “the process.”
I have listened to people talk about how black people need to let “the process” work in the Michael Brown shooting. They cannot understand why it is black people in general do not seem interested one bit in doing that.
They cannot – or will not – understand that “the process” has never worked for black people.
At this point, Officer Darren Wilson has been protected. That’s “the process.” The case is before a grand jury. That’s “the process.” There has been an attempt to smear Michael Brown’s character, even as Officer Wilson has been protected. That’s to let the public know that whatever Wilson did, the force he used was not excessive, but “justified,” as Wilson was “in fear for his life.”
That’s “the process.”
In this nation, “the process” has been so often skewed against black people. In spite of the Constitution saying that all Americans are due a trial with a jury of their peers, few black people have had that. No, so often, all-white juries have been assigned to cases involving black people, and too often have rendered a “guilty” verdict, in spite of evidence that has been fraught with problems, or in spite of prosecutors and/or judges who have let racial prejudice be the driver in their presentations, rather than a quest for justice.
Henry McCollom and his brother, Leon Brown, sat for 30 years in prisons in North Carolina for a murder they did not commit. DNA evidence proving they had nothing to do with the murders – something they said from the beginning – but their lives are basically gone, thanks to “the process.” (http://www.latimes.com/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-death-row-inmates-released-mccollum-brown-20140903-story.html).
When Emmett Till was murdered, his murderers were arrested, yes, but an all-white jury acquitted them. The jury took less than an hour to acquit Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam …and they were so arrogant that they gave a complete confession to LIFE Magazine after they were set free. “The process” cleared them to go on with their lives.
“The process” has been responsible for seeing young African-Americans hauled off to prison with long sentences for things white kids get away with. Our jails are filled with non-violent, primarily African-American men and women. “The process” obviously worked against them.
In cases where black people have been killed by police officers, those officers have been more often than not let go. One of the officers who was involved in the shooting death of John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio at the beginning of August is already back on the job. George Zimmerman is free. It took forever for “the process” to even think that Zimmerman needed to be arrested. The “Central Park Five” were swept into the process and convicted of a crime they didn’t commit. They maintained their innocence from the beginning, but those who helped sustain “the process” pushed them through as though they were guilty nonetheless.
“The process” does that frequently when it comes to black people. Those who support “the process” seem to believe that black people are guilty unless someone can prove otherwise. They assume that if a black person is accused of wrongdoing, he or she is probably guilty. “The process” then works to put “the guilty” away.
That means that oftentimes, the killers of black people go free, or that those accused of bothering a white person get put away. In the case of Trayvon Martin, “the process” made it easy to show that Martin was a criminal who deserved what he got. George Zimmerman is free. Meanwhile, Marissa Alexander, who killed nobody but merely fired warning shots to fend off her abusive husband, faces up to 60 years in prison for what she did. “The process” has not leaned in her favor at all.
So, you’ll excuse us, world, if we cannot trust “the process.” From the beginning of this Mike Brown tragedy, “the system” has worked to make sure “the process” protects the police officer while it vilifies the victim. That’s what “the process” has historically done with black people.
A candid observation …
One thought on ““The Process” Can’t Be Trusted”
Been thinking quite a bit about the “process” myself, of late. For example, the process for dealing with citizens in Ferguson is ’tilted’ to meet the needs of the 1% by incarcerating and fining the 99% into debtor status. The process for corporate profits has been to starve the line worker, while fattening the coffers of owners and management. The process for complaining about finding oneself unhappy with these processes is to” make the injustice apparent .”.
It has always been the same. What mechanism(s) must one employ to change the process? How does the one percent adequately communicate that “by whatever means necessary” the process must change?
Individually we ask ourselves, do I follow the rule I am asking THEM to abide by in obtaining equity and resolution? Or do I break out the nukes and go to battle stations day one?
Do we have recent examples of options taken elsewhere? Of course, we must look no further than today’s headlines. Negotiation or fight is everyone’s dilemma.
So where does that leave me? Am I my anger? Am I my intellect and resolve? I keep coming back to this…..we don’t kill people to tell people that killing people is wrong! I don’t want to break the rules, as they do. I want them to follow. The rules as I will.
Back to my own “process”.
Nancy A. Nordyke Shelley Board Member for Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida and Coordinator for Justice For All. Justice For All is a project of the Unitarian Universalist Justice of Florida, a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Tax-deductible contributions accepted, and checks should be made payable to “Unitarian Universalist Social Justice”, with “Justice For All” in the memo line and sent to UUJF at P.O. Box 18954, Sarasota, FL 34276
Sent from my iPad