Sol Wachtler (former chief judge of New York) believed the grand jury system should be abolished. He famously said: prosecutors have so much control over grand juries that they could convince them to indict a ham sandwich.” Or not. A grand jury in Missouri decided to authorize no indictments against a white policeman in the killing of Michael Brown.

Michael-brown
Michael Brown [via Democracy Now!]
Way back in 1857 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote this in the case of Dred Scott, an American slave who sued for his freedom:

all blacks as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.

Dred Scott [via Wikipedia]

More recently… The southern state of Florida has a law known as “stand your ground”, which legally inoculates people defending themselves against possible violence.  Marissa Alexander (a black woman) invoked that law in her defense, when she fired a shot into the air to warn off her abusive husband and his two sons. Her jury deliberated 12 minutes. She was convicted and sentenced to 20 years. Her conviction was overturned and charges were re-filed. In the face of a possible 60-year prison sentence, she took a plea deal of 3 years. Also in Florida, George Zimmerman (a white man) was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.

TrayvonMartinHooded.jpg
Trayvon Martin [via Wikipedia]
There are fires and looting in Ferguson, Missouri. There is outrage America. Will we be more outraged over property crimes, or about the pattern of injustice in America? The words of Martin Luther King Jr. are wise:

Riots are the voices of the unheard.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

9 Replies to “Context For The Scenes We See”

  1. I have been following this tragic story and the injustice of it all. We all need to be held accountable, black and white alike. These riots are the result of injustice and a need to be heard. I love the Martin Luther King quote, and it’s wisdom is needed at this time. Great post MK.

    Like

    1. Thanks Karen. Anyone who takes a few steps backwards would be horrified by the disproportionate administration of justice in this country. My own city is the home of the riots following the police beating of Rodney King. The police were acquitted. Just a few days after that incident, a 15-year old black girl was shot dead by a Korean woman in a neighborhood store. The Korean shop owner was sentenced to probation. No prison time. At the time I lived in central L.A., a mostly black neighborhood, and watched the smoke rise all around me for three days. No police were to be seen.

      First step is to see.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this post, MK. The way this grand jury was handled, the fact it even went to a grand jury, sadly, I expected the outcome. But, that they waited until end of the day once it was announced a verdict was in, after the grand jury had dragged on for 3 months, the unbelievable rambling of the prosecutor, all an elaborate setup… and underscores so much about what racism really is these days. It can be thinly disguised in the most honorable-looking of scenes. For each step forward, we fall back many more, and yet continue the work, the hope. ~SueBee

    Like

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