What Tamir’s Denigration Means

What does a people say when a nation, its own nation, continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

There has been a grave travesty of justice – yet again – in the decision of the Grand Jury in Cuyahoga County to not indict the police officers who shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice within two seconds of driving up on him as he played with a pellet gun.

How can any intelligent group of people not agree, not see, that those officers murdered a child?

People always want justice when they have been aggrieved; it is human to seek it. The parents and loved ones of the four people killed Ethan Couch,  a wealthy teen who was driving drunk, were outraged when he was given probation instead of jail time. Any parent would be so outraged.

Think of how you would feel if such injustice, such a decision to not demand accountability for awful crimes, were your norm.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

It is not the norm when black people kill other black people; those criminals go to jail. But the criminals wearing badges get a free pass. They are almost never held accountable.

It is the norm for black people in this nation.

How can a people, masses of white people, not be incensed at America’s continued violation of the human and civil rights of black people? How can a people who say they are pro-life not care about the families which are being devastated by a justice system which is anything but just?

How can parents not feel the anguish of parents of killed loved ones, their children, who will never see justice rendered against the murderers of their children, because the system …protects…their murderers?

How can a nation not be incensed that officers who have a history of using excessive force, especially against black people, are allowed to stay on the streets? Aren’t they at least as despicable as priests who molest young children and who are allowed to stay in their parishes?

How can any person calling him or herself Christian not be pained to the core of his or her spirit, because the Scriptures, which demand justice and righteousness, are being ignored?

Do not say that we, black people, should trust the system. The system has never protected us, never had our best interests at heart.

We cannot trust the prosecutors, the judges or the juries. They are bedfellows with a largely white police force which knows it can get away with murder. Prosecutors need the support of police unions, so they do what the unions say do. Prosecutors, elected officials, also need to satisfy their base, which is largely white and Conservative, and no friends to black people.

Judges need support from powerful union interests as well. They are too often not interested in justice, but, instead, with satisfying those who pay their salaries and help them stay in office.

The result is a justice system which still lynches black people.

What was done by the Grand Jury in Tamir Rice’s case …was immoral, unjust, but typical of how American justice works for black people.

He was a kid, 12-years old, and he was shot to death within seconds of being driven up on by rabid police officers with no self control.

He was allowed to lay on the ground for a number of minutes, dying, while the police officers wrestled and handcuffed his 14-year old sister.

How can so many (not all) white people not be enraged? What if it had been your son? What would you feel? What does a people say when their own nation continually denigrates them and lets them know that their lives really do not matter?

Has America’s racism, its white supremacy, eroded your very souls, your capacity to feel?

It would seem so.

A candid observation …

Black Lives Don’t Matter to GOP

I watched the much-touted GOP presidential debate last evening with bated breath. Would these candidates indicate that they knew about and cared about the war around the value of black lives that is tearing this nation apart? Would they indicate that they care about African-Americans who are literally fighting for dignity and fairness in this land?

They did not. Not one question about the Black Lives Matter movement was asked; not one candidate admitted that what is going on in America is a serious problem.

Kim Davis and her quest for religious freedom was mentioned, and passionately so. Planned Parenthood was mentioned, with everyone seeming absolutely horrified that, according to a video that has surfaced, body parts of fetuses have been sold by Planned Parenthood. Of course, there was much discussion about the hated Iran deal, about what Russia is doing, about the nation’s security in general. That was expected and necessary.

But there was not a word, not a mention about the crisis going on in the streets of America, with innocent and unarmed black people being arrested, harassed, shot, injured, jailed and killed, by police officers. Not a word.

White America (and Dr. Carson) seems not to care about what is going on. White America is caught in its insistence that whatever happens to black people at the hands of police officers is warranted – that, in spite of plenty of videos to date that have indicated otherwise.

How come Rev. Mike Huckabee can be so concerned about what he calls “judicial tyranny” and not care about the domestic tyranny called police brutality? How can he, a Christian minister, ignore the fact that young black people are being treated like chattel, still, suffering at the hands of those who are supposed to protect them? Why is the plight of one Kim Davis more heart-wrenching to him than is the plight of all these African-Americans who are being profiled and attacked by police …with little chance that the offending officers will be held to accountability for their actions?

Dr. Martin Luther King wrote that “the universe is so structured that things do not quite work out rightly if men are not diligent in their concern for others.” (“The Ethical Demands for Integration”) In 1962, he wrote that “it is sad that the moral dimension of integration has not been sounded by the leaders of government and the nation.” White people are adamant about there being “law and order,” and will insist, most of the time, that “the law” be obeyed. In the case of black lives, that means being quiet and acquiescing to the commands of police officers, be they in the right or not. Dr King wrote, in that same essay, “they sounded the note that has become the verse, chorus and refrain of the so-called calm and reasonable moderates: we must obey the law!  He said that the issue of national morality was before the leaders of that time. That same issue of national morality is before us now, but the GOP candidates are ignoring it.

Dr. King further wrote, in “Letter from Birmingham City Jail” that “oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever. The urge for freedom will eventually come.” That urge is upon us now, GOP candidates. Whether you like the movement and action of the Black Lives Matter activists or not, the move is on to end the oppression which is and has always been wrought by the “justice system” in this land.  Dr. King wrote in that same letter, “The Negro has many pent-up resentments and latent frustrations. He has to get them out.”  That is what you are seeing, yet ignoring. The souls that are marching in the streets and lying down on highways are souls that are sick and tired of the anguish they carry around daily. They are tired of believing that there will be justice when law enforcement acts in criminal ways. Dr. King wrote that it is “immoral to urge an individual to withdraw his efforts to gain basic constitutional rights because the quest precipitates violence. Society must protect the robbed and punish the robber.”

Whomever becomes president of the United States will need to look squarely in the face of Justice and know that she will require the soul of America to answer for its injustice to so many of her citizens. Just as society dared, really, President Obama to speak up too much for the case and causes of black people,  the Black Lives Matter movement will dare the new president ti ignore the cries of people who are tired of justice …being unjust.

It was insulting, last evening, to hear those candidates completely ignore the cries of people who are alive and fighting for freedom while they spoke for the lives of babies not yet born.

They showed that black lives don’t matter to the GOP.

A candid observation …

Before

Before Michael Brown, there were others.

Trayvon Martin, Roger Owensby. Timothy Thomas. Emmett Till. There were so many others.

The black community has been under assault by “law enforcement” for decades, and law enforcement has historically gotten away with it.

The Rev. C.T. Vivian, of whom I am writing an authorized biography, when I asked him how black people are to cope, not just with the murders of unarmed black people, but the lack of justice, and therefore of respect and dignity, said that we have to realize our strength, and realize that white people know that what we as a people suffer is brutal. (my word, “brutal,” not his.) He said, “Most white people realize that they could not live as black people do. They realize they would not be able to handle it.”

I relate to what is going on, and to what has always gone on with sanction in this nation, as a mother of a son. I have a daughter, too, but it is my son that I worry about, just because he is a black male. He does not do drugs. He does not have a criminal record. He knows “how to act” if stopped by police.

But none of that matters.

And that’s what scares me. Black people do not have to have a criminal record or be doing something wrong in order to be gunned down with abandon …by police. White officers and black officers have the same obsession with power, it looks like. They do not like to be challenged or questioned…and they know they have the upper hand. They too often shoot first and ask questions (or make up a story) later. No matter how compelling is the evidence that they are in the wrong, they get off.

That is scary.

The nation, this nation, cannot be “exceptional” so long as such barbarity within the ranks of law enforcement exists, because the actions of those who are supposed to serve and protect are causing a huge swath of parents and loved ones to suffer emotional pain that is ignored and minimized.

Black people have lived on the hope, the faith, that God will make a way …out of this madness caused by the dehumanization of them and their children. But God has been slow. Black parents stand weeping on the banks of “Red Seas,” holding out a metaphorical “rod,” waiting for the sea of injustice to part, but the parting has not happened yet, not after all these years.

The parents and loved ones of all of these unarmed black people are standing on the shore of that sea, waiting for God.

But God has been slow. It feels like God has been absent, actually.

It is horrible that police officers have been randomly killed, but here’s the difference between slain police officers and slain black people. Whomever has killed a police officer will be brought to justice. Most police officers who kill unarmed and many times, innocent black people, even if charged with a crime, will go free. There will be no justice.

That reality is the fuel of the Black Lives Matter movement. The lack of justice speaks to the core belief of this nation that black people do not matter, and never have. The lack of justice undermines the words of the United States Constitution, which black people and those concerned with justice latch onto, “All men are created equal.”

Not so. It wasn’t the case when the Constitution was drafted and it isn’t the case now.

I wonder if any of people who are so quick to blame black people for our lot in life ever stop to think about the effects of being dehumanized. I wonder if they feel it when black mothers cry, when little black kids are put in handcuffs for doing things little kids of all races have always done …because they’re little. I wonder if white mothers feel the pain of the mothers of Trayvon and Michael and Jordan and Roger and TImothy and Renisha and Sandra and Freddie and Sam…and so many. So many…

Please understand. Parents and loved ones feel the pain when black lives are taken by other black people…but the difference is that black people who kill other black people are usually brought to justice and end up in prison. It is small consolation but at least it represents justice.

The cry that some are trying to vilify and call representative of hate is a cry that is filled with anguish about being used, exploited, and then being discarded. American society uses black people (and poor people) for cheap labor, exploits the, unwilling to give them decent wages so they can take care of their families, and then discarding them when they cry out for help as their loved ones are mowed down by state-sanctioned actions of law enforcement officers.

Law enforcement doesn’t care about black lives. The education system doesn’t care about black lives (schools for black children are the worst of all schools). America doesn’t care …about black lives.

Before Michael Brown there were others, so many others…

And we live in a nation that just does not care.

A candid observation

No Justice for Black Slain

Sybrina Fulton the mother of Trayvon Martin speaks at Peace Fest in Forest Park on August 24 2014 in St Louis Missouri Fulton's teenage son was shot...    Sybrina Fulton, the mother of the late Trayvon Martin, will not see or taste justice for the murder of her son.

Her last hope for justice was wiped out today when she got news that federal prosecutors will not charge George Zimmerman with a hate crime. The case is closed. There will be no justice for Trayvon.

The families of Chris Kyle, the man on whose life the movie “American Sniper” was based, and his friend, Chad Littlefield, were elated after Eddie Ray Routh was found guilty of their murders and was sentenced to life without parole.

They praised the system. They praised God. They praised the reality of justice.

But Sybrina cannot praise the system. She and the parents of so many African-American people who have been slain by police have not gotten justice.

Black people slain by other black people are usually found guilty of their crimes. When people talk about black-on-black crime, they lift up an important and sad reality, but they also miss the point of those who protest about their family members slain by police.

Blacks who kill other blacks …go to jail. Police, be they white or black, seldom do. In fact, their actions are found to be justified far too often. In the case of Trayvon, his killer was not a police officer; George Zimmerman was and is a wanna-be, a vigilante of the worst sort. The fact is, however, is that he didn’t pay for what he did to Trayvon. Darren Wilson didn’t pay for what he did to Michael Brown. Daniel Pantaleo did not pay for what he did to Eric Garner.

The list of unpunished crimes against black people is long.

And the result is a whole lot of families who are living not only with the pain of losing their loved ones, but also with the heartbreak of not having gotten justice.

Everyone wants justice. Every human being, every mother, every family member …wants justice when their loved one is taken away by an act of violence or negligence or barbaric cruelty. Theologian James Cone shared his inability to understand how black people, lynched by hate-filled whites, could have survived. Not only were black people killed by mobs, but law enforcement officers were often part of those same mobs, or they looked the other way while the victims of lynching endured horrible deaths.

There was no justice. Nobody had to answer for those who were lynched. There were mock trials of whites accused of killing black people, and they were almost never found guilty. If they were found guilty they received paltry sentences. The idea of there being a need for justice for the killing of black people was a joke, and those who were actually accused of lynchable offenses knew it.

Not even the killers of Emmett Till were found guilty, in spite of overwhelming evidence that they had committed that horrific crime.

So, back then, during the heyday of obvious lynching …and now, as we witness more subtle lynching …the families left behind have lived and do live with a yearning for justice that just did not happen and will not happen.

The lack of justice says that black lives do not matter. They never have, not in this country and not in the world. People all over the world with black skin are objects of hatred and brutality …and there is seldom justice when they are killed.

Can a nation survive forever with a whole population base besieged by unhealed grief and growing anger? Does anyone doubt that these parents and family members have real reason to be angry and bitter? They are often are not …angry and bitter …but they are sad. Their spirits are forever weighed down by the grief that comes with not only a loved one murdered …but also with the frustration and disappointment that comes when the murderers of their loved ones stay free, walking the streets, doing what they want.

That has to be an unbearable pain. I cannot imagine how I would exist if one of my children – or any family member – were killed by someone and the justice system didn’t hold him or her accountable. The doling out of justice would be my only source of peace – and that peace would be tenuous …but at least with a conviction of the one who had taken my loved one out I would be able to breathe.

I don’t think the mothers of Trayvon and Eric and Michael …can breathe, not easily.

No justice, no peace. An irritated white friend of mine once challenged me when I said that. “Are you an anarchist?” he asked. “Is that a threat?”

No, I said. It’s a statement of fact. When there is no justice …there is no peace.

A candid observation …

Only Some Quotas are Bad

In this nation, the word “quota” is …a bad word. That word has meant to many that governments and institutions give special treatment, hand-outs, preference – to black people as they have applied to schools and colleges. Affirmative Action was implemented to guide educational institutions on ways to get minorities within their walls.

From the beginning, opponents called “foul.” Affirmative Action, they said, was nothing more and nothing less than “reverse discrimination.” It was unfair to qualified whites, they said, to “bend the admission requirements” for less-qualified minorities. If black people couldn’t get into  school, it was because they simply were not smart enough. Never mind that rules were bent and have always been bent for children of alumni of schools; kids with horrible grades have been let into the most prestigious schools because an influential mama or daddy was pushing the admissions committee and offering to write a generous check in return for the school abiding by their wishes.

Nobody talks about that preferential treatment.

But ..setting quota goals to let minorities in has been bitterly fought on the basis of its inherent unfairness. Lawsuits by angry whites have been filed – and won – as whites have insisted that leveling the playing field so that more minorities can get an education is a sin, an affront against the Constitution and the rights of Americans

White Americans.

So, I have gotten used to dealing with my emotions when I’ve heard of these lawsuits being filed and the courts siding with the aggrieved white applicant. Quotas are bad …

EXCEPT when it comes to how blacks on the street are treated. Officer Adhyl Polanco, a member of the New York Police Department, moved here from the Dominican Republic when he was 10 years old. He grew up in a rough section of New York, and grew used to hearing the sound of gunfire, but he also became enamored with police when they would visit his school. He decided he wanted to …one of them.

He joined the force in 2005, and had the inside view of what happens in his police department. Much of what he saw and was commanded to do bothered him, but he had a deciding moment when he was told, along with other officers, that the police needed to meet a specific quota. The policy is called 20-5-1, which means officers are required to write out or issue 20 summons per month, make one arrest, and perform 5 “stop and frisk” stops.

Polanco was aghast.

His displeasure was deepened when, he said, he was told one evening to cuff a young man who was walking down a street with friends. “They were not doing anything,” Polanco said,. He said he asked his commanding officer, who made the request, why he was arresting them, and he said his CO said, “you don’t ask questions. Just cuff him,” When a person from the group asked the officer why he was cuffing the young man, the CO said, “cuff him, too.”

Polanco had young children and shuddered at the thought of them being so harassed. He had also been accosted by fellow officers when he’d been out of uniform, walking down the street with other friends, some of them likewise, cops who were not on duty at the time.

“I’ve had officers throw me against a wall,” Polanco said, “and when I’ve told them who I am, and they’ve found my ID and have seen that I was telling the truth, they’ve just walked away. They haven’t said “I’m sorry” or anything.”

Polanco said the pressure is on all officers to meet the quota set by the police department. “They want numbers,” Polanco said, “and if it looks like they are not going to meet the quota, they get creative.”

Polanco noted that “as soon as a person who is stopped asks, “why are you arresting me?” or says, “I didn’t do nothing (sic), he or she is going to be arrested for d-con -(disorderly conduct). “They’re going to be put in jail and will have to pay a fee…”

(The interview with Polanco can be heard at http://www.democracynow.org/2013/11/6/nypd_officer_risks_his_job_to)

Quotas.

So …fight like hell to keep the number of blacks in schools down …and work like hell to get the number of blacks in jail …up.

Letting kids in school is a bad thing; getting blacks off the streets, even when they have done nothing wrong, is a good thing. Letting them in school hurts the system and violates the Constitution, but putting as many of them as possible in jail helps the system. Never mind their right as Americans against unreasonable search and seizure.

Do I have this right?

I think so. And it

And it is a troubling … candid observation …

Can America Be Saved?

On this day, the nation and perhaps the world is waiting to see if Darren Wilson, the white police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in August of this year, will be indicted.

The media has concentrated most on its fear that if there is no indictment, that Ferguson will erupt in violence. In every interview they have done, the presiding reporter and/or anchor person has eventually, somewhat uneasily, asked the question, “What do you think will happen if Wilson is not indicted? Will people go to the streets?”

The question is maddening and insulting, for at least two reasons. First, the people have already taken to the streets. Peacefully. People have been protesting …peacefully …for over 100 days, and the media has not chosen to highlight that. Innocent people have been manhandled by police and thrown into jail for protesting …peacefully. The media does not seem to get it: the people are not looking for violence. They are looking for justice. They want Darren Wilson to at least have to go to trial for killing Mike Brown. That really is not asking much.

The second reason the question is maddening is because the issue of justice for black, brown and poor people is almost never covered by the media.  The media are largely responsible for the images and perceptions America and the world have for black people. What the media does is portray black people as animals, non-humans, who cause trouble. Not too often does the media seek to get into the hearts and souls of the people, the parents, the friends, who are left behind after one of their loved ones has been killed by a law enforcement officer. No. The attention is given to the few people in mass demonstrations who loot and throw things at police.

The media could do much in letting America and the world know that this thing with Michael Brown …and Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis …is not a new thing. The media could let people know that police have been killing black people for literally years and have been allowed to get away with it. The cases are there, the stories, of black people, most often black men but black women as well, being pulled over for a “routine traffic stop” and somehow ending up dead. These are not criminals, many to most of them. They are guilty of one thing: being black in a country which does not regard black people as humans. These cases happen, the people are gunned down, and the offending police officers are allowed to get back on the streets after an “internal investigation” which almost never finds them guilty of wrongdoing.

The media doesn’t cover the disparate ways police relate to and with black people. Police don’t come into black neighborhoods to see what good they can do. No, police come into our neighborhoods, by and large, and harass young black men. They do it because they know they can …and can get away with it.

Police are no different from the masses; many to most of them are white, and have never known a black person. All they have known is what the media and our schools have taught them: black people were slaves. Black people do bad things. If a black person gets shot by police, that black person deserved it, plain and simple.

Those types of pronouncements lets America and its officers off the hook. America is filled with white people, primarily from the South but certainly not confined to that area, who are angry. Many to most white people think that black people do not belong here; that America was created to be a “white man’s country,” and that black people are out-of-place. They conveniently forget that white people, in search for big bucks, brought black people over, who really did build this country. They forget that had it not been for black people, America would never have become the economic powerhouse it has been for a long time.

I listened to a white attorney say that God meant for America to be for black people, and he said that God sanctions and approves of violence against black people. (see “The Last White Knight”)   For whites in this country, blacks are, simply, a problem.  Blacks are blamed for their poverty. Blacks are considered to be lazy and therefore, unemployed and unemployable. Whites conveniently forget that too often, now and in our history, white employers have refused to hire black people, some even putting signs up that say “Whites need only to apply.” (see, The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson).  Whites conveniently forget that black men have stood out in lines waiting to be hired when jobs were scarce and that they were always the last hired, if at all. Whites do not know the extremes black people have had to go through in order to survive and make it in America.

Because white people do not see black people as human but, rather, as subhuman (per our description in the U.S. Constitution), they have not really been able to care, to feel, to understand what it is black people are wanting. Black people do not want hand-outs. Black people want what white people have without thinking about it: black people want justice.

I don’t imagine that many white people understand that the parents of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis and so many others …are aching….not just because their sons have been murdered by people who are supposed to protect us …but because they have had to fight to even get authorities to see that it is important that they get justice.  Yes, there is black-on-black violence, which is horrible, but that is a different kind of situation than the one I am referring to. Black-on-black crime happens, many times, because poverty and joblessness breeds that kind of behavior; crime is high in any ethnic group or neighborhood where the poverty is rampant and the opportunities lacking. Those parents are grieving, too…but in many cases, they see the assailants of their children put into jail. Not so when police kill our children.  Black people cry because the governments – state and local – not only get away with killing black people, but many of them in government and law enforcement agencies are participants in the violence.

Black people are not protected in this country. Black people are disposable. Black people are objects, and therefore, black people can be killed and nobody will have to answer for it.

This way of looking at black people is an illness. It is America’s illness, and it is cancerous. It is killing us as a nation. No nation can call itself “great” or “exceptional” that treats its own citizens this way. America is rotted in its center, but will not address or do the work to scrape the rot out.  America’s political system is based largely upon feeding racist language to a base of white people who are afraid of black people, who think black people are America’s problem, and who want black people out of here.

Can America heal? Can the pus that is oozing from America’s sores and infecting more and more of this nation stop, a sign that the illness has been treated and cured?

I don’t think so, not unless and until it decides to treat the rot. And I just don’t see that happening, not any time soon.

A candid observation…

In Fear For Their Lives

I watched, astonished, as reports came in that fugitive Eric Frein had been taken into custody. At the time of his capture, he supposedly was not armed. Reports say that when confronted, he knelt and put his hands up. He was arrested, reports said, “without incident.” (http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/31/eric-frein-suspect-in-pennsylvania-trooper-ambush-taken-into-custody/)

Police were not “in fear for their lives” in his arrest.

Eric Frein was taken into custody; he had a cut on his nose (nobody has said yet how he got that. Did he have a confrontation with police?) but other than that, he looked pretty good. He was driven away and put into jail; he will have a trial. Justice will be served. Prosecutors are said to be ready to ask for the death penalty.

I kept thinking that had Frein been black, he would have been shot on sight.  He would not have been given a chance to put his hands up. Any movement he made would have been interpreted as menacing and threatening. Police would have shot him and probably killed him, and only after life left his body would they have found that at that moment, he wasn’t armed.

It wouldn’t have made a difference, though, not to the police and not to the American public. The fact that he had been known to be armed and that he had shot a police officer would have been justification for their shooting him dead.

I didn’t want to, but my thoughts went to the shooting of John Crawford, who was killed in a Wal-Mart in Beavercreek, Ohio, as he carried an air rifle. Someone called police and said there was a man carrying a gun and that he was pointing it at people. None of that was true, but it didn’t matter. Police entered that store, which, by the way, is a facility where an open carry policy exists. Reports said police told him to drop his weapon but apparently he didn’t do it quickly enough. as he fell, he was heard to say, “it’s not real,” but it didn’t matter. He was shot dead, and police and much of the American public think his killing was justified.

Seriously?

Yes, seriously…John Crawford didn’t get a ride to the police station to be accused of wrongdoing, if he was in fact wrong. Police did not give him the benefit of the doubt. He was a black man and he had a gun. Police were “in fear for their lives.”

It seems to me that police would have been “in fear for their lives” with Frein. Yes, he dropped to his knees …but he had been reported to be heavily armed. Why isn’t it they were not afraid of him?

Can someone help me here?

Were they not afraid because he was white, clean-shaven, and, well, harmless-looking? They KNEW he was a murderer but they were not afraid.

Frein will get his day in court. The family of the officer he killed will get justice. And that is good. I guess taxpayer money will be used for his trial and imprisonment. If he is convicted and gets the death penalty, chances are tax payer money will be used for years to keep him in prison as he goes through the appeal process. The family of the slain officer, though, will get justice. Rightly so.

But the families of slain black people will not get justice. They will be left to grapple with the fact that in America, black lives are disposable waste and society for the most part does not feel that police are wrong when they kill an African-American. They will get no justice; the killers of their loved ones will go free and be allowed to keep on living their lives because they only killed because they were “in fear for their lives.”

There is the sound of Rachel, wailing…because her children are no more ..

And too few in American society, in white American society, hear her or care to hear her.

A candid observation ….

Justice Denied

As an African-American, I find myself ever wishing and hoping for …justice for our people killed by law enforcement officers…but it almost never comes.

Yesterday, the officers who shot and killed John Crawford in a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, were not indicted. In spite of the fact that Crawford was holding a toy gun in a store where it is OK to carry guns …he was gunned down and his killers will go free. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/john-crawford-iii_n_5876574.html)

The names of the officers are, by the way, Sgt. David Darkow and Officer Dean Williams.

There is always “something” that we the public “don’t get.” There’s always a “reason” why African-Americans are gunned down and killed by police, and the “reason’ is enough to clear the officers of any wrongdoing.  The grand jury must have seen something, heard the “something” that we, the public, “don’t get.” They found that the officers’ actions were justified. No excessive force…

We in the African-American community have seen police work in our neighborhoods; we have seen and heard the harassment, the taunting and daring officers give in our communities. They do not protect us. They seem to feel we don’t deserve protection.

Instead, they goad our people, especially our young people …and then blame them for any altercation that might ensue or, ultimately, any shooting death that might occur.

When Rodney King was attacked by police officers years ago, I, for one, rejoiced because the beating was caught on tape. Now, I thought, the people will see how police treat African-Americans. They will be arrested, I again thought erroneously. They will lose their jobs. They will be held accountable.

But the justice I thought would be a no-brainer did not come. The officers were cleared of wrongdoing …and the African-American community in Los Angeles went up in flames.

I have been holding my breath as the grand jury in Ferguson has been out, considering the future of Darren Wilson. Officer Darren Wilson. There is nothing in me that believes he will be indicted.

But in the case of the officers who shot John Crawford, I thought, just like I thought when Rodney King was beaten, that surely these guys who shot Crawford would be made to answer for their actions. That would have been justice. But, as usual, it is justice …denied.

When Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam killed Emmett Till there was a trial …but it was a farce. An all-white jury found the two white assailants innocent…and took only minutes to come to their “verdict.”  Later, they arrogantly confessed in an article which appeared in Look Magazine. They were arrogant, cocky, unrepentant…Mamie Till, Emmett’s mother, who insisted that the world see what these men had done to her son, never got justice. What agony she must have felt for the rest of her life.

I would imagine that the officers in Crawford’s death are likewise feeling on top of the world today. Arrogant, Cocky. Ready to get back to work, feeling like they can do whatever they want and get away with it.

People have said to African-Americans, “Wait. Don’t jump to conclusions before “the facts” are known. Let the system work.”

Thing is, we’ve been waiting for “the system” to work in our favor for some time. Mothers and fathers, wives and children, have been robbed of justice in the deaths of their loved ones which has come at the hands of “law enforcement” for literally decades in this nation. In addition to weeping over the loss of their loved one, they have wept and are continuing to weep over the fact that the assailants have been cleared of wronging and are free. I call that justice …denied.

“The law” in America is held up as sacrosanct. If one is truly American, one obeys “the law.” And if one doesn’t, one should expect to be punished.

But that proclamation seems only to hold for certain situations. White people in the South ignored “the law” when the federal government ordered schools to be integrated after Brown vs Board of Education.  Some governors closed schools rather than integrate them. “The law” didn’t apply to them, they decided, …and they were none the worse for it.

Word: Whenever a person or a family has justice denied, there is deep pain, then deep frustration, followed by depression…and then anger. The anger amongst African-Americans is bubbling, America. Can’t you feel it?

I can.

A candid observation …

 

 

“The Process” Can’t Be Trusted

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 …

 

When Justice Doesn’t Come

I was listening to John Walsh, the man whose son was murdered years ago and who has hosted television programs concentrating on “getting the bad guy,” including “America’s Most Wanted,” and now, on CNN, “The Hunt.”

Because of the pain he suffered as a parent of a murdered child, Walsh’s quest to “get the bad guy” is a passion. He has lived and tasted pain; he has lived through and tasted the justice system. His six-year-old son, Adam, was abducted from his home in 1981 and was later found murdered. Though authorities determined that Adam’s murderer was a man named Ottis Toole, for Walsh there was no justice; Toole was never charged with the crime and he died while in prison serving time for other crimes.

The lack of justice left a bitter taste in Walsh’s mouth and spirit, which it should. He is a parent and he has suffered the most grievous loss any parent could endure.

In his program Saturday evening, he talked about how the parents of the case that was being featured feel. They want justice, Walsh said. They want the killer of their child to be brought to justice. And …they want that though their child has been dead for some 20 years.

A parent’s need for justice is palpable …and it doesn’t diminish with time.

So, why is it that American society, including and most especially the justice system, cannot seem to appreciate or respect the need for African-American parents to want justice in the deaths of their children?

Much is made about black-on-black crime, but the truth is, when it is known who has shot and killed another person in the black community, that person is more often than not made to pay for his/her offense immediately. Those persons are likely thrown into jail as soon as they are caught; they have trials, they are convicted and are put away for a long time, if not sentenced to death.

But in the case of black people being shot by police officers or white vigilantes, it seems that justice seldom comes. It happens far too often that the victim is blamed for having been shot, and the perpetrator goes free. In the instances where the Justice Department gets into the fray and investigates the cases, the product of their investigation is a long time coming.

And so the parents of these young people are left to deal not only with their grief, but also with the lack of justice for their loved one. It makes them angry. John Walsh in fact said that: that parents of murdered loved ones get angry when the alleged killer is not held accountable.

The alleged killer of Mike Brown is still being protected; it is not at all a sure thing that Police Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted, or, if he goes to trial, that he will be convicted. The whole Brown situation has caused a seething rage to continue to bubble in the spirit of the black community. From the way Brown was allegedly shot, to the fact that he was left lying in the street for four hours after being killed, to the fact that his alleged involvement in a crime before the shooting was released BEFORE the name of the police officer was released ..and that only after a week of not getting the officer’s identification released…has contributed to the long-held belief of black people that for us, there is no justice …and it causes deep anger.

If Brown were the only unarmed person killed by a white police officer or vigilante or security guard, the pain would not be so great; the rage would not be boiling, as it is, like lava in an active volcano. No, Brown is only one of a long list of people who have been killed in this way, with their killers being set free.

Remarley Graham was murdered in his home two years ago by police, but his family still does not know what happened to him and the officers in the case have not been indicted. We all know that George Zimmerman was let go; Mark O’Meara was able to convince the jury that Martin’s death was his own doing, in spite of what, to parents and many observers, seemed to be compelling evidence that Zimmerman was out of line in following the unarmed teen and confronting him, probably scaring him to death. The police officer-killer of John Crawford III, unarmed and shot in a Wal-Mart store in Beavercreek, Ohio, is back on his job even while his family has been fighting to get details of all that happened. The police officers in Staten Island, New York, who participated in the apprehension of Eric Garner, an unarmed man, will face a Grand Jury this month – but many in the black community are holding their breath, because even though Garner’s death has been ruled a homicide, resulting from a choke-hold in which he was placed, it is not at all a sure thing that these officers will be brought to justice.

For black people, more specifically for black parents, who hurt as much as any white parent of a murdered child, there is all too frequently…no justice.

Even in the case of Emmett Till, killed in 1955, there was no justice, His killers had a trial, yes, but they were acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury, in just 67 minutes. The two killers, Roy Bryant and A.W. Milam, later gave a full, arrogant confession to the murder of Till to Look Magazine.

Imagine the pain of Mamie TIll, Emmett’s mother.

Imagine the pain of the parents and loved ones of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Remarley Graham, Sean Bell, Oscar Grant, John Crawford III, Eric Garner …most recently killed. There either has been no justice, in the cases where trials have been carried out, or there is anticipation and anxiety in the cases where “what to do” with the police officers who did the killings.

Walsh talked about the pain of parents whose child has been murdered. That is true.

But the pain is not limited to white parents, John Walsh. Black parents are human beings, too. They love their children …too. And they want justice for their children…too.

White America seems not to understand that. Maybe they don’t believe that black parents have feelings at all. People, many black and too many white, do believe that if a black person is shot by a police officer, he or she deserved it.

It’s a convenient way for police to get away with murder…and the reason so many black parents are nursing a grief complicated by an unjust justice system.

It makes them angry. Whenever a killer is not held accountable for his/her actions…those left behind …get angry.

You said it, John Walsh.

It’s true.

A candid observation …