Archives for posts with tag: staten island

Back in 1944, a young black male named George Stinney, Jr. was accused, tried, convicted and executed in a matter of days for a crime he almost certainly did not commit. By white people. White people who hated black people:

“It took less than a day for a jury to convict George Stinney Jr. and send him to the electric chair,” NPR’S Hansi Lo Wang reports. “He was convicted of the deaths of 11-year-old Betty June Binnicker and 7-year-old Mary Emma Thames in deeply segregated Alcolu, S.C.”

Matt Burgess, an attorney for the Stinney family, tells Hansi, “There were no African-American people in that courthouse. It was a jury of 12 white men. Everyone in that courthouse was white.”

George Stinney Jr. was executed less than three months after the two girls were murdered. His trial lasted just one day. After the jury needed less than 10 minutes to declare him guilty, no appeals were filed on his behalf.

“His executioners noted the electric chair straps didn’t fit him, and an electrode was too big for his leg,” The State newspaper reports. The paper adds, “It took Mullen nearly four times as long to issue her ruling as it took in 1944 to go from arrest to execution.”

70 years later, in 2014, lots of black males were murdered by racist white government employees in Cleveland, Ferguson, Staten Island, and many other places across the country. The only difference? Time.

The 2014 cops didn’t even pretend to bother with courts or silly things like due process: no, they arrested, accused, tried, judged, and killed, all in a matter of minutes. Or seconds, in the Cleveland case.

Those who say we have “made progress” in terms of equality are correct. However, that progress is NOT in a good direction. It’s going backwards. Until we as a society admit that our institutions have been made into Ayn Randian, apartheid-esque, Teabagger havens for a load of Ted Nugent wannabees, things will only get worse.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky

And lots of reasons not to. It isn’t a recent phenomenon that started with white officers killing black men in Ferguson, Staten Island or Cleveland: it goes back to the days of slavery, when the authorities enforced the laws by catching escaped slaves and forcibly returing them to the slave owners. It continued through the post-Civil-War era as police were used to enforce Jim Crow laws that kept people of color (POC) in another set of “chains”.

And did the Civil Rights laws of the 60’s fix things? Oh, Hell no. The cops were used to “keep order” among the minority population and protect the white folks from said minorities. Once again, the cops were and are the visible face of oppression, and the means used to oppress the non-white people of America.

Asians are likewise POC, and they deal with a lot of crap from cops as well: immigration, profiling, harassment, civil rights violations, etc. You think anybody in their communities have forgotten the World War Two internment camps? Here’s a hint, boyo: they haven’t. And who put them into the camps? Armed people in uniforms put them in those camps. Cops (and soldiers, in that case).

How about Latinos? POC they are as well, and they have likewise dealt with a history of abuse and marginalization. And yes, once again the cops were the instrument of that extra-constitutional mistreatment.

It didn’t start with Michael Brown, or even John Brown. It won’t end with a single grand jury indictment, or even several indictments. As the Prexy has said, the system can’t function if POC don’t trust that justice will be delivered in an impartial manner.

Speaking as a (formerly long-haired) hippie freak, this writer doesn’t place blind trust in the cops or those for whom they work. Comes from having been harassed, profiled, roughed up, shaken down, and driven to city boundaries with guns enforcing the officers’ orders to “Git, and never come back” on more than one occasion. Being “othered” while looking at the wrong end of a gun makes an indelible impression on a person.

But you know what made the Cranky life a lot easier? Baldness. Cops can no longer discern my political views by a glance. Indeed, a somewhat portly middle-aged white man is rarely targeted by the cops. But…

Black people can’t wash off their pigment. Nor can other people of color. They can never, ever be free of the institutionalized violence and abuse that is routinely heaped upon minorities. Their skin color makes them a target. They know it. Cops know it.

When everybody knows the system is rigged, nobody can believe in the system. We are living in a crumbling edifice, built upon a history of xenophobia and racist hatred. Unless we all get together and build a foundation that truly aligns with the notion that we are created equal, the whole American experiment will fall apart, ending in blood and ashes.

Trust is needed. Right now POC don’t trust the system. And lots of white people are deciding we don’t trust it either. Police of America, it’s time to decide who you work for, and to earn back the trust we need you to deserve.

Mr. Blunt and Cranky