Waiting for Justice

This morning I am waiting with bated breath the verdict in the Michael Dunn murder trial.

It is day three of this so-called “loud music” trial. I am so afraid the jury will bring back a verdict of “not guilty” or that there will be a hung jury.

I am afraid because in so many cases of black people being shot and killed by white people – police or civilians – the verdict is “not guilty.” And each and every time one of those verdicts come down the pike, my heart sinks.

It seems and feels like that, no matter what, there is seldom justice for black people, especially in cases where a white person has killed or injured a black person.

What in the world is it? I remember feeling optimistic way back when Rodney King was beaten by police. It was caught on video tape…and I thought it was clear as day that that young man had been wronged, beaten cruelly and mercilessly by police who seemed totally out of control. He was treated like a sick and dangerous animal, not a man who had made a bad move.

But not even the video tape helped. The police officers were acquitted …and a city went nuts. I understood why.

America’s lack of willingness to extend justice to African-American families which have been changed forever because of violence waged against their loved ones is a dangerous and troubling thing. American jurists, too many of whom are white when it comes to delivering verdicts in cases like this – seem to subliminally think that if a black person is shot down by a police officer or by a civilian, he or she somehow deserved it. It boggles the mind, or my mind, still, that George Zimmerman is free. It boggles my mind that the police officer who shot Henry Glover was convicted …only to be later acquitted in a new trial.

Michael Dunn shot into an SUV and killed an unarmed teen. He then drove away – miles away – and didn’t even bother to call police. He shot because he got angry with a teen who dared challenge him when he asked the teens to turn their music down. He gave the classic line used in these types of cases, “I was in fear for my life.”

Bull.

This man was wrong. Jordan Davis, the kid he killed, perhaps should have kept his mouth shut …but being mouthy is NOT  a reason to be gunned down like a rabid dog.

I don’t understand why everyone cannot understand that.

I keep thinking of Langston Hughes’ poem, “A Dream Deferred.” He asks what happens when a dream is deferred?:

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?

Or fester like a sore, and then run?

Does it stink like rotten meat?

Or crust and sugar over

like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags

like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

African-Americans keep dreaming for justice in this land, but it really does feel like a dream deferred.

What will happen if Dunn is acquitted? I shudder to think of the brutal slap to African-American souls if that is the reality. Another dream, another moment of hope, dashed …another dream deferred.

It just cannot keep happening. I am afraid of what this jury will decide.

A candid observation .

America Should Be Ashamed

In less than two hours, Troy Davis is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection.

In less than one-half hour, Lawrence Brewer, the man convicted of murdering James Byrd, will also be put to death by lethal injection.

In the case of Davis, he has maintained his innocence for over 20 years. Just today he asked to be given a polygraph to prove his innocence. He was convicted on the testimony of so-called eye witnesses. Seven of those nine eyewitnesses have recanted their stories.

In the case of Brewer, news reports said today that he boasted that he “would do it again.”

Davis was convicted of killing a police officer. Brewer murdered Byrd by beating him and then dragging him along a Texas road, even as the man was still alive. When it was all said and done, the dragging resulted in Byrd being decapitated and losing an arm.

I don’t like the death penalty. I am not rejoicing that Brewer will be put to death. But I am especially sickened that prosecutors, judges, and courts have refused to give Davis a fair chance. It is beyond me that any state could execute a man when so much doubt about his guilt exists.

In the case of Brewer, there is no such doubt, and that, coupled with Brewer’s apparent pride in what he did leaves little doubt of his guilt.

But in the case of Davis, there is a huge difference. There was no DNA evidence, no physical evidence, according to reports. Troy has never said he committed the crime, in spite of the real probability that he was pressured to do so in order to get a lighter sentence.

And then – these seven of nine eyewitnesses recanted their testimonies. There was a woman on television today who said there was a man who told her he actually did the killing but is content to let Troy Davis take the rap because he, the free man, “has kids to raise.”

Do tell.

Doesn’t the state of Georgia have a moral right to investigate such a possibility? If the American justice system is about justice, then isn’t it a responsibility for those who are in charge of securing justice …secure justice?

This whole debacle has shaken what little faith I had in the American justice system. The state of Georgia, the courts, the prosecutors – all of those who have lent closed hearts, minds, and ears to the possibility of an innocent man being murdered for a murder he most likely did not commit – should be ashamed.

I am ashamed.

How can we even shape our mouths to say we are going to fight for justice for people in other countries, when we seemingly do not care about providing justice for our own?

It boggles my mind and sickens me in my spirit.

What is about to happen to Troy Davis is wrong.

That is a candid – and painful – observation.