A Little Bit of Justice – Judge Overturns Marissa Alexander Conviction And 20 Year Sentence

 

Under the category “Special Laws for certain people”…

Marissa Alexander at sentencing

JUSTICE: COURT FINALLY OVERTURNS MARISSA ALEXANDER’S 20 YEAR SENTENCE

A Florida woman who claimed to be a victim of abuse was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for allegedly firing a warning shot during an argument with her husband was granted a new trial.

The appellate court ruling erased a decision by a jury that took just 12 minutes to convict Marissa Alexander, a mother of three, of aggravated assault.

The conviction of Alexander, who is black, sparked outrage and cries of a racial double standard in light of the exoneration of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, for the death of Trayvon Martin, who was black. In particular, outrage aired on social media and among some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Alexander unsuccessfully tried to invoke Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as the same prosecutors who unsuccessfully worked to put Zimmerman behind bars told the court that she did not act in self-defense.

In granting the new trial, Judge James Daniel also seemed unmoved by the Stand Your Ground defense.

“We reject her contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous,” wrote Daniel.

Alexander testified that, on Aug. 1, 2010, her then-husband, Rico Gray Sr., questioned her fidelity and the paternity of her 1-week-old child.

She claimed that he broke through a bathroom door that she had locked and grabbed her by the neck. She said she tried to push past him but he shoved her into the door, sparking a struggle that felt like an “eternity.”

Afterwards, she claimed that she ran to the garage and tried to leave but was unable to open the garage door, so she retrieved a gun, which she legally owned.

Once inside, she claimed, her husband saw the gun and charged at her “in a rage” saying, “Bitch, I’ll kill you.” She said she raised the gun and fired a warning shot into the air because it was the “lesser of two evils.” The jury rejected the self-defense claim and Alexander was sentenced under the state’s 10-20-life law, sparking outrage over how self-defense laws are applied in the state.

A Florida appellate court ruled that jury instructions, which unfairly made Alexander prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that she was acting in self-defense, were wrong — and that there were other incorrect instructions that self-defense only applied if the victim suffered an injury, which Gray had not.

The Lynching of Laura Nelson. The Old Jim Crow…Just Like the New Jim Crow

75 Years Late…Scottsboro Boys Pardoned

This was one of the major (Mis)Trials of the last century. 9 black Boys accused of raping two white women in the segregated, Jim Crow, Alabama of 1931.Amazingly enough, despite high tensions – they didn’t get lynched. All but one of the boys was convicted and given the death penalty. None of the Boys was executed, but spent long terms in jail.

The Scottsboro Boys, with attorney Samuel Leibowitz, under guard by the state militia, 1932

   Alabama grants posthumous pardons to Scottsboro Boys

Alabama’s parole board voted Thursday to grant posthumous pardons to men known as the Scottsboro Boys from a 1931 rape case.

The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles granted full and unconditional pardons to three of the nine black boys who were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train in northeast Alabama in 1931.

The board unanimously approved the pardons for Haywood Patterson, Charlie Weems and Andy Wright after a short hearing in Montgomery. The three men were the last of the accused to have convictions from the case on their records.

“This decision will give them a final peace in their graves, wherever they are,” said Sheila Washington, director of the Scottsboro Museum and Cultural Center in Scottsboro, who helped initiate the petition.

Patterson, Weems and Wright, along with defendant Clarence Norris, were convicted on rape charges in 1937, after a six-year ordeal that included three trials, the recantation of one of the accusers and two landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions on legal representation and the racial make-up of jury pools.

The men were all convicted by all-white juries, and all but the youngest defendant was sentenced to death.

Alabama ultimately dropped rape charges against five of the accused. Norris received a pardon before his death from Alabama Gov. George Wallace in 1976.

Last spring, the Alabama Legislature unanimously passed a law to allow the parole board to issue posthumous pardons for convictions at least 75 years old. The law was specifically designed to allow the pardon of the Scottsboro Boys to go forward.

In October, a group of scholars petitioned the Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant pardons to the men. The petition was endorsed by the judges and district attorneys of the counties where the initial trials took place.

“This is a different state than it was 80 years ago, and thank God for that,” said state Sen. Arthur Orr, a Republican from Decatur where the second and third round of trials took place. “It’s an important step for our state to take.”

Under Alabama law, pardons can only be granted to those who have felony convictions on their record. The petitioners had initially hoped the board would review the status of each of the defendants.

The Board’s decision led to a round of applause Thursday morning, but many of those who worked on the pardon called the news bittersweet. Patterson died of cancer in 1952, and many of the other defendants, including Weems and Wright, felt compelled to move out of Alabama and keep a low profile after their release from prison.

University of Alabama professor John Miller, who helped prepare the petition, said at the time of his pardon, Norris was living in New York under his brother’s name.

“With some of them, we really don’t know if they died with their right name, or a different name,” Washington said. “They no longer wanted to be known.”

Weems is known to have moved to the Atlanta area after his release, but his date of death is unknown. Washington said Wright, along with his brother Roy, another one of the Scottsboro Boys, is buried in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“It’s tragic in that those young men’s live were destroyed, all by a very biased and unfair judicial process,” Orr said. “The place where you seek justice did not dispense justice for these young men. It ruined their lives, some more than others, and it affected them to their graves.”

Trolling for a White Trayvon – and the Rights Racist Obsession With Crime

Searching for the white Trayvon – the right wing an Faux News troll the crime ledgers.

The right’s black crime obsession

There are a few black people up to no good in this country and Fox News is on it! So is Drudge Report. Vigilantly on the lookout, 24 hours a day, for stories about black youths behaving badly.

This isn’t a particularly new phenomenon, but it’s intensified noticeably in the past year for at least two reasons. Conservatives, particularly white conservatives, feel a burning urgency to find a racial counterweight to the aftermath of Trayvon Martin’s shooting (including President Obama’s public comments about the incident), a logical response to the argument that things like background checks and an assault weapons ban are appropriate ways to reduce the likelihood of another Sandy Hook-style massacre, and anecdotal justifications for indiscriminate policing of dangerous neighborhoods.

But these are hopeless pursuits. The incidents they draw attention to fail by definition to underscore the things they believe. They all require projecting motives or details or both into tragic events, to create false dichotomies between shootings perpetrated by whites and blacks. They have the unhealthy effect of creating dueling tallies of white-on-black and black-on-white crime. And ironically they all tend to underscore the argument that more “stand your ground” laws and more racial profiling are off-point responses to these incidents.

The latest conservative cri de coeur is over the tragic shooting death of Chris Lane, a 22-year-old Australian attending East Central University in Oklahoma on a baseball scholarship. Two teen boys spotted Lane on a jog last week, trailed him in a car, and allegedly shot him fatally in the back (a third teen reportedly served as their driver). One of the suspects said the boys committed the murder out of boredom.

Word of the shooting spread quickly. And that’s when the right clumsily revealed that its obsession with gun violence reflects an obsession with racial score settling rather than with averting further tragedies. The conservative media, including Fox News, repeated the claim that the Oklahoma suspects were all black. But this turned out to be a toxic mix of racial bias and wishful thinking. You almost wonder whether the people whose ulterior motives led them into error like this actually lamented the fact that one of the suspects happened to be white. It would be so much more convenient if that weren’t the case.

This racist yellow-journalism article kicked off the Tulsa “race riot” of 1921.

But let’s pretend for a minute that the suspects had all fit the stereotype the hosts at Fox and Friends wanted. Then the idea is that Chris Lane’s death should somehow offset Trayvon Martin’s, or that the people who sought to turn George Zimmerman’s actions into a national referendum on “stand your ground” laws are somehow hypocritical for having little to say when the races of the culprits and innocent victims are reversed. For reactionary Obama foes like former Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., the obvious question is, “Whom will POTUS identify w/this time?”

I’ll give West, et al., this: If you ignore motive, circumstance, history and (likely) outcome, then liberals, particularly black liberals, sure seem craven. By that standard, though, Jean Valjean and John, King of England are moral equals — just a couple of guys with similar names taking other people’s property.

This racist yellow-journalism article kicked off the elaine “Race riots” of 1919

So let’s review: George Zimmerman wouldn’t have shot Trayvon Martin if he hadn’t been profiling by race. And even if he had been, the shooting feasibly wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been legally allowed to carry a handgun and didn’t think he was empowered by law to take matters into his own hands. The monstrous killing of Chris Lane has no such back story. The killers apparently had no motive whatsoever, were armed illegally, and certainly weren’t trailing Lane because they believed, based on his race, that he might be a criminal. They are, however, likely to face serious prison time for their crimes. Zimmerman walked.

Put that all together, and it turns out these stories aren’t counter-parallel at all. And more to the point, the events don’t even anecdotally augur for policies the right supports. The kids in Oklahoma weren’t “standing their ground,” and a “stand your ground” law wouldn’t have saved Chris Lane. Neither would a stop-and-frisk regime — the killers were trailing him in a car. By contrast, a “stand your ground” environment and a stop-and-frisk mentality were instrumental in Trayvon Martin’s death. Take either away, and there’s a good chance he’d be alive today. Martin in fact personified the statistical folly of stop-and-frisk. If Zimmerman had yielded to real police, they would have, in absence of any suspicious behavior, stopped Martin, frisked him and found only the skittles and iced tea that made his death that much more tragically poignant.

You could twist that into a claim that stop-and-frisk might have saved Martin’s life. But that gets the onus backward. Proponents of profiling policies need to do better than argue we have to violate the civil rights of minorities in order to protect them from hair-triggered vigilantes.

What might well have stopped both killings, though, is making it harder for people, legally or illegally, to come into possession of handguns. That’s a conversation the right is less obsessed with.

President Obama Speaks on Trayvon Martin and Stereotyping of Black Men

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA: The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week, the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling. I gave an — a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday, but watching the debate over the course of the last week I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.

First of all, you know, I — I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s — it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal — legal issues in the case. I’ll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.

The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner. The prosecution and the defense made their arguments. The juries were properly instructed that in a — in a case such as this, reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.

But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that — that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. 

And there are very few African-American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often.

And you know, I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. 

The African-American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they are disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact, although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.

We understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.

And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration. And the fact that a lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African-American boys are more violent — using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.

I think the African-American community is also not naive in understanding that statistically somebody like Trayvon Martin was probably statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.

So — so folks understand the challenges that exist for African- American boys, but they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it or — and that context is being denied. And — and that all contributes, I think, to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think, for a lot of folks is, where do we take this? How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction? You know, I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through as long as it remains nonviolent. If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family. 

But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do? I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government — the criminal code. And law enforcement has traditionally done it at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.

That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation, we can’t do some things that I think would be productive. So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus. 

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it’d be productive for the Justice Department — governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists.

You know, when I was in Illinois I passed racial profiling legislation. And it actually did just two simple things. One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped. But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing.

And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way, that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and in turn be more helpful in applying the law. And obviously law enforcement’s got a very tough job.

So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought bear if state and local governments are receptive. And I think a lot of them would be. And — and let’s figure out other ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it — if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations.

I know that there’s been commentary about the fact that the stand your ground laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.

On the other hand, if we’re sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there’s a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see?

And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these “stand your ground” laws, I just ask people to consider if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk? And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman, who had followed him in a car, because he felt threatened? 

And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three — and this is a long-term project: We need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African-American boys? And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about. There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement. And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them? 

You know, I’m not naive about the prospects of some brand-new federal program.

I’m not sure that that’s what we’re talking about here. But I do recognize that as president, I’ve got some convening power.

And there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front. And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African-American men feel that they’re a full part of this society and that — and that they’ve got pathways and avenues to succeed — you know, I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation. And we’re going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that.

And then finally, I think it’s going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching. You know, there have been talk about should we convene a conversation on race. I haven’t seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations. They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.

On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there’s a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can; am I judging people, as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin but the content of their character? That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so, you know, we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues, and those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions. But we should also have confidence that kids these days I think have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did, and that along this long, difficult journey, you know, we’re becoming a more perfect union — not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.

Why Travon Martin’s Murder Is a Watershed

Val Nickolas hits the nail on the head.Why most black men think the Zimmerman trial was a travesty.

Went through a couple of these experiences myself growing up, and later as an adult. Getting stopped in a$70,000 car, in a suit, with my then 80 year old mother 2 blocks from my house in a very nice neighborhood on the way home from taking her out to dinner… For having a loose license plate screw.

Had my Zimmerman moment as a teen, when I and two friends stopped by the local McDonalds for a meal. The driver was a couple of years older, and was known around the community as a bit of a bad ass. He later became a County Policeman and served with distinction for 30 some years. A car with four young white men first attempted to ram us in the parking lot as we drove out – missing us by a few inches. My older friend said “Forget it – they are probably a bunch of drunks”, and kept going without saying a word to the other driver. Half way home, we noticed the car full of guys was following us. We took a couple of turns through streets which basically took us around the block and back to the main, two  lane road (the area was pretty country at that time) – the car followed our every move. As the numbers were 4 to 3,we figured those guys weren’t interested in a stand up fight. They probably were armed. My friend carried a sawed-off under the seat (I said he was a bad ass) – but we didn’t want to force a confrontation on the road. I suggested we go to my house, which had a long circular driveway, shielded by a row of bushes and a wall. My Dad, who was out of town with my Mom, kept loaded guns by the doors after having the house shot at because of their involvement in the Civil Rights Movement (He never was real big on that “peaceful” stuff). When we pulled into the drive, the two non-drivers would jump out through the hedge unseen, and circle around to the house, letting ourselves in and collecting Dad’s venerable Pump and Double Barrel. IF the clowns followed us into the driveway, they would be faced with a three sided ambush, with no way out as the driveway would be blocked by our car, and the wall on one side, and the side of the garage on the other…

Which is exactly what happened.  We made them get out, and besides a case of beer, found two revolvers when we searched them and the car. We took the bullets, removed the cylinders, and tossed the revolver frames into the car – and collected 6 beers from the stash for our efforts. And with a graphic description of what was going to happen if we ever saw them in our town again…

Sent them on their way with instructions as to where to find their revolver cylinders in a few days.

Those guys were so shook up we never saw them again, and they never did pick up their revolver cylinders which we set atop a fence post at the end of a dead end farm road.

Story could have been a lot different…But those beers were damn good.

Had another friend who managed to get stopped 3 times the same day by the same cop, supposedly looking for a robber on his way to visit his girl friend in the next county. Cop as hell on aged blue Mustangs.

I could have been Trayvon Martin

The Don Imus controversy a while back brought racial discrimination into the national conversation. But for many African-Americans like me it dug up a lot of deep, suppressed memories of hateful things that have been said and done to us over the years. Things we thought we had moved past but came screaming back like a freight train into our lives again.

For me, it was the George Zimmerman trial that sparked my memory. As a vice president in a national news division, I watched the trial through an objective lens my eyes have long been trained to look through. However at the end of the trial, those long suppressed memories made an unwelcomed hello.

I grew up in a military family and we always lived in middle class neighborhoods. I was an honor studentin high school as well as a student athlete running track. I even had an after-school job to earn spending money. That said, twice as a teen, I ended up looking down the barrel of police guns for no other reason that I happened to be a black teenager. I had completely forgotten about these incidents but the Zimmerman verdict opened that door again.

The first time, I was merely waiting for a bus to go to my job. Suddenly two California Highway Patrol vehicles jumped over the concrete middle island and they came screaming to a halt on either side of me kicking up a huge cloud of dust.

My first instinct was to run away but before I could figure out how to handle this, an officer from each car jumped out with handguns pointed at me, screaming for me to put my hands up and get down on the ground.

I started to ask what was going on, but they were having none of it and forcibly pushed me down into the dirt making my work clothes a filthy mess. They then asked me if I was the name of someone they were looking for. I told them no and they demanded ID. I did not have a driver’s license yet but fortunately I did have a picture ID from work. If I had not had that ID, I would have surely ended up in jail. After they realized they had the wrong guy, they got back in their cars and drove off. No apology, no checking if I was OK, no nothing.

It was the first time I came to realize that being black was not just a magnet for racist speech and actions directed at me but also could also cost me my life had I responded to a normal human being’s natural fight or flight instinct.

The second time was while I was in a convenience store, and a voice from behind me told me not to move a muscle. I glanced back and saw a shotgun pointed at the back of my head. I thought I was being robbed and I had an envelope in my coat pocket with money I had just cashed from my paycheck. I was thinking about trying to get it out and hide it in the snack display in front of me.

Had I done that, I would have died on the spot…

Another great piece on “Waking Up”  was written by Leonard Pitts for the Miami Herald -

Leonard Pitts Jr.: Zimmerman acquittal another reason to wake up

Four words of advice for African Americans in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal:

Wake the hell up.

The Sunday after Zimmerman went free was a day of protest for many of us. From Biscayne Boulevard in Miami to Leimert Park in Los Angeles, to the Daley Center in Chicago to Times Square in New York City, African Americans — and others who believe in racial justice — carried out angry, but mostly peaceful demonstrations.

Good. This is as it should have been.

But if that’s the end, if you just get it out of your system, then move ahead with business as usual, then all you did Sunday was waste your time. You might as well have stayed home.

We are living in a perilous era for African-American freedom. The parallels to other eras have become too stark to ignore.

Every period of African-American advance has always been met by a crushing period of push back, the crafting of laws and the use of violence with the intent of eroding the new freedoms. Look it up:

The 13th Amendment ended slavery. So the white South created a convict leasing system that was actually harsher.

The 14th Amendment guaranteed citizenship. So the white South rendered that citizenship meaningless with the imposition of Jim Crow laws.

The 15th Amendment gave us the right to vote; it was taken away by the so-called “grandfather clause.” The Supreme Court struck that down, so the white South relied on literacy tests and poll taxes to snatch our ballots all over again.

Our history is a litany: two steps forward, one step back…

 

Read more here:

 

For The George Zimmerman Defense…Race

Kind of hard to escape the last few days evisceration of the first prosecution witness in the Trayvon Martin murder case by the media.  And the role race has played in that.

Rachel Jeantel can’t read cursive. That’s the main takeaway from the fourth day of the George Zimmerman trial: Jeantel, the heavyset, snappy prosecution witness who was on the phone with her friend Trayvon Martin minutes before he died, cannot read script handwriting. Defense attorney Don West underlined that fact for the benefit of the jury, the general public, and everyone else looking for an excuse to dismiss her testimony.

Given the extent to which Jeantel’s demeanor was covered on television and in news articles, you’d be excused for thinking—as Jezebel’s Callie Beusman put it—that she was the one on trial. Over the past couple of days, Jeantel has recounted that Martin told her he was being followed by a “creepy-ass cracker” who, it seems, then proceeded to attack him. Pundits, meanwhile, have made snickering observations that have had little to do with the substance of her testimony. They’ve criticized Jeantel’s weight, her attitude, her manner of dress, and her mumbling, inarticulate answers to West’s questions. These observations are generally framed as discussions of her credibility and how she’ll be received by the jury. But they’re also an excuse to point and laugh at a poor, black teenager who comes from an America that we’d rather not acknowledge exists.

The media has consistently treated Jeantel as if she were some sassy alien life-form. TheNew York Daily News story about yesterday’s proceedings focused on Jeantel-as-sideshow, calling the cursive story an “especially cringe-worthy moment,” and noting that, “[a]t one point, the key prosecution witness blurted out, ‘That’s retarded, Sir’ in response to West’s suggestion that Martin attacked Zimmerman.” On Piers Morgan Tonight, Morgan repeated the phrase “creepy-ass cracker” as if it were some inscrutable bit of baby talk. The day before, panelist Jayne Weintraub disdainfully asserted that “it’s really not about this young woman’s … credibility, because her credibility, it’s a wash whatever her testimony is. Yes, she was a difficult witness. She was impossible.”…

Racial and socioeconomic stereotypes play differently in different contexts. The statements and mannerisms that make Jeantel a laughingstock now might have made her a viral video star outside the courtroom. As I was watching Jeantel’s testimony and the subsequent reaction, I couldn’t help thinking about Aisha Harris’ Slate piece from Mayabout the “fairly recent trend of ‘hilarious’ black neighbors, unwitting Internet celebrities whose appeal seems rooted in a ‘colorful’ style that is always immediately recognizable as poor or working-class.” Charles Ramsey, Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown—these people caught white America’s attention in part because they so blatantly violated normative behavior. If Jeantel would’ve been filmed saying “That’s retarded, sir” to some reporter on the streets outside her house, the Internet might well be singing her praises. Black people are celebrated when they play the fool in the proper setting.

Continue reading

The Sno’ Ho’s Terrorist Friends…

There were reports of Palin’s connection with Domestic Terrorist groups before she was selected by McCain to run as VP candidate. Those were never fully followed up by the MSM.

Palin’s Hit Men Pals Shafer Cox and the Alaska Militia

The recent arrest of some of the Sno’ Ho’s friends and political supporters for the planned assassination of Judges and elected representatives may open up that can of rancid worms…

“I am not against violence. OK? I am not against spilling blood for freedom,” Cox told a group in Hamilton, Mont., in December 2009. “You know, everybody asks, ‘Would you die for liberty?’ That’s not really the question to ask. The right question to ask is ‘Would you kill for liberty?’ “

“Pallin’ Around with Terrorists”: Palin’s Link to Militia Leader Charged With Conspiracy to Commit Murder

According to sworn testimony Thursday during federal court proceedings in Alaska, two close associates of former Governor Sarah Palin — Joe Miller, a staunch political ally of Palin’s whom she supported in his failed bid for the U.S. Senate; and Palin’s former director of boards and commissions Frank Bailey, more commonly known in Alaska as Palin’s “hatchet man” — were responsible for introducing FBI Informant William “Drop Zone” Fulton to Schaeffer Cox, the leader of the so-called Alaska Peacekeeper Militia.

Cox and two other Fairbanks-based militiamen have been charged with conspiring to kidnap and murder Alaska judges and law enforcement authorities. They have also been charged with violating various federal weapons laws for owning or attempting to purchase machine guns, silencers, hand grenades and other combat-type weapons.

It’s an only-in-Alaska story.

The surreptitious meeting between Fulton, Cox and Palin’s associates took place a scant six months before Palin was selected by John McCain to serve as his running mate on the GOP ticket. Cox, a supporter of Palin’s, was then a Republican candidate for the Alaska House of Representatives, District 7. He finished with 36 percent of the votes.

Cox’s trial, now in its third week, has revealed the bizarre cultural and political milieu in which Palin came to power in Alaska and which eventually catapulted her to a national stage. Continue reading

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