Thursday, May 08, 2008

Sigh - Equal Justice Under The Law, Again

The old folks used to say "I don't feel no ways tired" when talking about their lives and the troubles of the world. Unfortunately, I can't say the same thing. I am tired of a whole lot of things. Especially equal justice under the law things. Recent posts by two Afrospear bloggers have added to the fatigue. The danger is that eventually fatigue turns to outrage, and from there, well, you never know.

First, of course is the Philly beat down administered by a dozen or so cops on 3 SUSPECTS in the shooting death of a police officer. Philadelphia blogger the Field Negro writes:

Once again some of our boys in blue acted like the gangsters that they are supposed to be protecting us from. If you haven't seen the video yet, I guarantee you that you will soon. [look here and judge for yourself] It isn't quite Rodney King, but it's bad. And let me be fair to Philly's finest, they just lost one of their own (see my sidebar) when some animal decided to take his life with a high powered assault rifle. So I know that they are on edge. Especially since one of the perpetrators of the crime is still on the loose. Still, it's not (an) excuse to make a pinata out of a bunch of shooting suspects, and ignore all your years of training by letting your raw emotions take over.

The law and order folks are coming out of the woodwork on this, as usual, and the arguments sound the same as they always do - "Well that's what they get for being criminals, and I would have done the same thing." The problem of course is a little thing called due process, which infers that a SUSPECT is innocent until proven guilty. Then there's the principle of habeas corpus that's supposed to apply in all cases, guaranteeing that someone suspected of a crime should have the opportunity to see the evidence being presented against them, and have an opportunity to defend themselves in a court of law before punishment is applied.

Neither principle was followed in this situation, and even if ultimately the suspects are proven guilty, the fact remains that this is not how those sworn to uphold the law are supposed to behave. Not to mention that its not exactly a rare occasion that the police and justice system prosecute and convict the wrong people. There are too many of those cases to mention, which only illustrates my point that you shouldn't assume guilt and whoop people's butts in the streets.

But assume they do, especially in the case of Black male suspects. But what about Black women? To gain a better perspective from that, you need to look at the victims of crime, and how they are treated in Black and White. There's the example of an absolutely horrific case out of New York City in which a young Black woman was abducted, raped, tortured, and beaten to death by a couple of media attention seeking psychopaths. That's bad enough but the major issue in this case is that when the young woman was reported missing, the police did not even bother to look for her, leaving that task up to the family. Gina at What About Our Daughters is all over it.

In a case that could be an example for advocates of missing and murdered black women everywhere, Romona's family has cleared the first hurdle in pursuing a federal lawsuit against the NYPD for denying Romona and other Black victims of equal protection of the law... ie, the NYPD investigates missing White women, but appears to ignore similar reports of missing Black women and girls. Romona (Moore) was a 21 year old college student when she was grabbed off of the street and dragged into a house, raped and tortured for days. She was paraded in front of a group of people, none of which bothered to call police or her family. She was eventually found after the family launched their own amateur investigation. Her mother was blown off by law enforcement.

There's a special place in Hell for animals who would do such things to another human being. You need to go read the whole post just to understand how depraved people can be, and how uncaring. How could you see that girl in that condition and not do something about it? Any way you look at it, its heartless, shameless, and cruel. Just as appalling is a comparison of the handling Ms. Moore's case by the police to that of a missing rare books dealer who happened to be White. Let's just say the interest in finder her was a lot more intense.

Both of these issues once again demonstrate as have so many others that equal justice, or protection, under the law really depends on who you are and what you look like. No, not all of the time of course, but it happens enough to call it out for what it is. We all understand the difficult jobs that police officers perform, but that doesn't mean when they're wrong we shouldn't even dare to speak about it, does it?

The news of just the past few days includes these two cases, the Sean Bell case, and yet another long term prisoner being released from jail after serving years for a crime he didn't commit. When should we speak out? When is enough going to be enough? Perhaps when everyone transitions from being tired to outraged.

I don't know about you, but I'm there already.

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