When certain things happen, you almost automatically can assume that the victim is Black, such things include fatal police encounters with officers during routine traffic stops and criminal justice decisions that defy logic and render no justice.
In recent weeks there have been stories of Black men in Florida, Arkansas and North Carolina, who died in incidents with police officers.
Marlon Brown, a 38-year-old father of two, had a run-in with police for allegedly failing to wear a seatbelt while driving. The family released a police dash cam video of the frightened Black man fleeing police cruisers, running through a Florida field. What should have at most been a ticket ended up in a pursuit and a funeral, a funeral for Mr. Brown who a coroner says died because he fell and a police cruiser landed on top of him. The officer was fired and the family has received a financial settlement in the case, but what has not been received is justice. Money can’t heal the wounds of losing a loved one unjustly or wipe the mind of a video still capturing some of the final moments of a husband and father.
Attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented the family of Trayvon Martin, has also charged officers violated a no pursuit policy for minor violations.
Jonathan Ferrell died after a car crash and going to a home to get aid. A White woman called police and didn’t know the Black man who came to her door. When the survivor of the crash came toward police for help it appears a taser was fired and then an officer unloaded 12 shots. Ten shots hit the victim, according to media reports. For a Black man seeking help from those who are supposed to preserve, protect and defend, any contact with “peace” officers is potentially a deadly encounter of the worst kind. The officer has been charged with voluntary manslaughter.
In Arkansas, there was 107-year-old Monroe Isadore, who was deaf, had trouble seeing and was locked inside his room after a dispute at the home where he lived. The elderly Black man in Pine Bluff, Ark., did have a gun, but what was the danger? Everyone had been evacuated from the home. Yet after police were able to get a camera into his room and lob gas, somehow storming the room was necessary and resulted in the death of the man.
There doesn’t seem to have been any reason for the police assault, say some Pine Bluff residents.
They wonder why the police didn’t just wait for the gas to drive the elderly man out, or call his family members or pastor to try to get him out.
In the state where the Stand Your Ground Defense is king, Marissa Alexander served 3 years in prison after firing a bullet into the ceiling of the room she was in with her then-husband, who had a history of abuse. Though the shot hit no one, the Black woman and new mother was facing 20 years in prison. In the same state where George Zimmerman was acquitted of murder and shot unarmed Trayvon Martin to death, it is incomprehensible that a mother who was an abuse survivor would not be able to successfully claim self-defense.
An appeals court has granted Ms. Alexander “a new trial, though she will not be able to invoke a ‘stand your ground’ defense,” the Associated Press reported Sept. 26.
“The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Alexander deserves a new trial because the trial judge handling her case did not properly instruct the jury regarding what is needed to prove self-defense. … But the court also made it clear in its ruling that the judge was right to block Alexander from using the state’s ‘stand your ground’ law as a way to defend her actions. That law generally removes people’s duty to retreat in the face of possible danger and allows them to use of deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger,” AP said.
“The state’s ‘10-20-life’ law was implemented in 1999 and credited with helping to lower the violent crime rate. Anyone who shows a gun in the commission of certain felonies gets an automatic 10 years in prison. Fire the gun, and it’s an automatic 20 years. Shoot and wound someone, and it’s 25 years to life,” the news service said.
It took a jury 12 minutes to convict Ms. Alexander and the new ruling says juror “instructions constituted a ‘fundamental error’ and required Alexander to prove self-defense ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ ” The initial trial judge also disallowed Ms. Alexander’s Stand Your Ground defense.
Justice remains far from blind in this country and we see the examples over and over again. In some rare cases, a decision is overturned or a police officer is charged with a crime. But often the time served is minimal and the charges prosecutors are pressured to file are minimum.
There can be no freedom and no liberty where the very system that is supposed to protect freedom and liberty does not work. There can be no justice nor equality when the systems are biased because of the race of the person who enters the system.
So if freedom, justice and equality are essential for life and happiness does it make sense to pursue what is unobtainable inside a system fixed against you, or to strike out on your own?
How many more tragedies must we witness and suffer before admitting we cannot live together with the children of our former slavemasters and that we need to separate from them?
We can’t afford to wait and have lost enough already, we simply cannot live together in peace.