RSS

Tag Archives: civil rights

Dear Racism – I Am Not My Grandparents…These Hands

As always I am on the lookout for sites with a fresh perspective and a new view on things. Doing this blog as fun means I am not always up on the very latest (I do tend to spend time on my other hobbies – woodworking, building, tech projects, photography)..as well as those thing income producing.

This from a recent discovery – Very Smart Brothas. The site is worth a visit. But warning – that language can be a bit overboard.

THOSE “I’M NOT MY GRANDPARENTS; YOU CAN CATCH THESE HANDS” SHIRTS ARE DISRESPECTFUL AS FUCK (AND WRONG)

I was invited to New York City Friday evening for an advance screening of the screen adaptation of Fences — August Wilson’s iconic play. Afterwards, the cast — including Denzel Washington (who also produced and directed the film) and Viola Davis — took part in a panel discussion about the story the film told, August Wilson’s genius, Pittsburgh (where each of Wilson’s plays took place), and the importance of bringing these characters and their specific truths to light.

Fences, of course, is set in the 1950s and revolves around Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old man whose entire existence is a struggle and whose every moment is a fight. There are frequent moments of levity in Troy’s life, but even those are clouded by, engulfed with, and sometimes a direct response to racial and societal adversity. He is the pipe and America is the pressure. Left to pick up his pieces are his wife (Rose), his two sons, his brother, and his best friend while each of them are also fighting against and existing within the same forces he is.

Fences is about one family in the Hill District. Well, one man in particular and how his actions affect the people closest to him. But Wilson’s work continues to resonate because his plays are snapshots into the lives of our parents and grandparents and great aunts and uncles. Troy Maxson isn’t every man, but the world that shaped him — hardening and tempering him — is the same world our ancestors existed in. And our existence today is proof of their perseverance. That their struggles weren’t for naught.

This took a level of strength and endurance and pugnacity that few of us today have had to possess. When Kendrick Lamar starts “Alright” with “All my life I’ve had to fight” there’s a bit of accepted creative hyperbole there. With Troy (and Rose) Maxson, however, that proclamation is literal. And its with this context that those “I’m Not My Grandparents” shirts (and the sentiment behind them) are so fucking disrespectful. And not only disrespectful, but wrong as fuck too.

Now, I do get why they exist. America just elected a man who seems intent on doing exactly what he said he was going to do during his campaign. To quote Charles Blow, “it would be hard to send a clearer message to women and minorities that this administration will be hostile to their interests than the cabinet he is assembling.” And this has apparently given quite a few closet racists and basement bigots the confidence to be themselves. The message the shirt is attempting to convey is “you better not try that shit with me.”

But this message can be communicated without disparaging the legacies of those who fought like a motherfucker — with words and protests and faith and actual fists — in an America that was much, much, much more hostile towards them than the one we currently exist in. To paraphrase Dr. Regina N. Bradley, a better and more appropriate shirt would say “These are my grandparents’ hands. Catch ’em if you want to.”

 
3 Comments

Posted by on November 22, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

“Walk With Me” – How Judge Damon J. Keith Reshaped America

Judge Damon J. Keith isn’t that well known, and isn’t lauded by most historians. However his impact on Civil Rights, and the Civil Rights of all Americans is incredible. Back in 1992, when the Bush Administration dragged Uncle Tommy Clarence out from under his porch such as to fill the “Black seat” on the Supreme Court left by Thurgood Marshall – Judge Keith was one a dozen or so black Jurists whose qualification far exceeded that of Uncle Tommie.

There is a lesson in courage and determination here I hope the young folks in BLM appreciate and emulate. The way things are shaping up in this country with the Chumph and his violent racist crew…We are going to need it.

 

‘I don’t scare easily’: A 94-year-old judge’s refusal to bow to racism, death threats

Long before federal judge Damon Keith became known as a “crusader for justice,” he was a new Howard University Law School graduate working as a janitor while he studied for the bar exam.

It was 1949, and Keith cleaned the bathrooms at The Detroit News, his hometown newspaper. One day, Keith recalled, he was leaning against a wall in the men’s room with a law dictionary in his hands when he was interrupted.

“What are you reading?” a white reporter asked him.

Keith, the grandson of slaves and a World War II veteran, told the reporter he was studying the law dictionary to prepare for the bar exam.

“What for?” the man asked.

“I’m going to be a lawyer,” Keith responded.

The reporter laughed.

“A black lawyer?” he asked incredulously. “You better keep on mopping.”

Keith, now 94 and still serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Detroit, recounted that story two weeks ago in a Howard University moot courtroom, where students, lawyers, his former clerks and a Supreme Court nominee gathered to watch a new documentary about his life, “Walk with Me: The Trials of Damon J. Keith.”

The following day, the legendary judge sat in the front row as President Obama and black luminaries from across the country celebrated the opening of the Smithsonian’s new African American Museum of History and Culture.

Keith, one of the oldest federal jurists in the country, has been handing down important rulings on racial discrimination, presidential power and other contentious legal issues for nearly 50 years. And he shows no signs of retiring. He’s at his chambers each day by 9 a.m., where the first thing he does is read his Bible, he said. He works until about 5:30 pm.

Last month he issued a scathing 38-page dissent in an Ohio voting rights case, accusing two colleagues on the 6th Circuit Court of turning their backs on African American voters likely to be impacted by restrictions on early and absentee voting. He included photos and biographies of 36 people who died during the long struggle for civil rights and equal protection, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Emmett Till.

“By denying the most vulnerable the right to vote,” he wrote, “the Majority shuts minorities out of our political process. Rather than honor the men and women whose murdered lives opened the doors of our democracy and secured our right to vote, the Majority has abandoned this court’s standard of review in order to conceal the votes of the most defenseless behind the dangerous veneers of factual findings lacking support and legal standards lacking precedent.”

He also warned: “The unfettered right to vote is the bedrock of a free and democratic society—without it, such a society cannot stand.”

Then he created even more of a stir by giving an interview to Slate lamenting “the racist attitude of the majority” and mentioning his two colleagues on the panel, John Rogers and Danny Boggs.

He doesn’t apologize for calling them out by name.

“I thought the panel’s decision was racist,” he told The Post. He noted that his grandparents couldn’t vote in Georgia. His fellow judges, he said, “don’t know what we’ve gone through. They don’t know what I’ve gone through.”

Keith learned the power of the law — and of dissent — when he was student at Howard, where future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was one of his professors…Read the rest Here

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Black History, BlackLivesMatter, Giant Negros

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Walter Scott Killer Now Facing Federal Charges

Thank goodness for cell phone videos. Otherwise Scott would have been found with a planted gun or knife, and a story of how the officer “feared for his life”.

Walter Scott

Michael Slager facing federal charges in Walter Scott killing

A white former South Carolina police officer charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black motorist who was running away has been indicted on federal charges including depriving the victim of his civil rights.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday also charges Michael Slager, 34, with obstruction of justice and unlawful use of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

A bystander’s cellphone video captured images of Slager, then a North Charleston police officer, firing eight times as Walter Scott, 50, ran from a traffic stop in April 2015. The case inflamed a national debate about how blacks are treated by white police officers.

Slager was charged with murder in state court and fired from the force. He was held in solitary confinement until January, when he was released on half a million dollars bail and put under house arrest at an undisclosed location, allowed to leave only for work, church and medical or legal appointments.

Slager is to appear before a judge in Charleston later Wednesday for an initial appearance on the federal charges. Scott’s family said they planned to meet with reporters after the hearing.

Slager’s state trial is set to begin this fall, and he faces a possible life sentence without parole. Prosecutors have asked for the trial to be moved up to August or back to May 2017 to give Solicitor Scarlett Wilson time to prepare for another trial, that of Dylann Roof who’s charged with shooting nine people to death at a black church in Charleston last summer….More Here

 

 
3 Comments

Posted by on May 11, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

How the CBC Became Irrelevant

The Congressional Black Caucus is one of he most reliably Democrat organizations in politics. This has created a “go along to get along” mentality, which often fails to serve the black community has too often been the operational motif of the CBC. Part of that is due to a generational gap between the membership in the CBC and groups and organizations in the black community increasingly started and led by millennials, The other part of that dysfunction has to do with the Faustian bargain with conservative Republicans which essentially created “Black Zones”, principally concentrated in urban areas. A long term loosing proposition because of gentrification, and black flight to the suburban areas. Leaving the largest population of black folks in the US without representation, as black lawmakers respond to a steadily decreasing urban base, and urban issues.

On the flip side, the artificial gerrymandered whitening of the Districts surrounding urban areas provides ample fodder for white Republican candidates who cannot win in a district with above 20% minority population, and who are either diametrically opposed to the black/minority community, or see no political interest in serving it’s interests. Encouraging racial politics, and enabling a Republican majority in the House far beyond what any general vote totals would accord. The most egregious recent example of which is North Carolina.

The result of this is that the CBC ill serves those groups of black folks who either don’t live in the urban center, or whose educational, economic, and professional interests extend beyond asking for a welfare check. Ergo the very people driving black economic empowerment and inclusion into the social fabric of the nation. The very people who are the center of Color of Change and the BLM movements.

Another day, another Gala…

The Increasing Irrelevance of the Congressional Black Caucus

The group has failed to connect with young voters, which is not a good sign for its future.

On January 25, 1972, Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to the United States Congress, announced her candidacy for president in a stump speech that sounded very much like those of today’s presidential candidates. Shetold the Brooklyn crowd, “I am not the candidate of any political bosses or fat cats or special interests. I stand here now without endorsements from many big name politicians or celebrities or any other kind of prop.” She also stood there without the support of the Congressional Black Caucus, which she helped found the previous year. The reason? Some of the CBC’s members thought Chisholm’s focus on gender and outreach to other groups subverted the caucus’s mission and explicit focus on race.

Four decades later, Representative Donna Edwards sought to become the first black senator from Maryland and only the second black woman ever elected to the body. Like Chisholm, she also did not enjoy the explicit support of the CBC. Edwards confronted CBC members, and they cited her “difficult nature” and failure to establish good relationships as reasons for not endorsing her. On Tuesday, Edwards lost her bid for the Senate seat in a close primary race that may have turned out differently if she’d received the endorsement from more members of the nation’s most powerful body of black legislators.

Among young African Americans, there is a growingsense that there are significant generational differences with the CBC and that the organization may have lost its conscience. Hillary Clinton has taken heat for the 1994 crime bill that led to the disproportionate incarceration of black people, but the bill was only assured passageonce the CBC withdrew its opposition. CBC members have clashed with Black Lives Matter protesters. And activists have criticized the CBC Political Action Committee, a separate but associated group, for the board’s ties to private prisons and big tobacco.

While some of these criticisms are valid, there is little question that the CBC is of immense value to African Americans and the nation at large. For decades, it’s been the organ through which the concerns of black Americans have entered the halls of Congress and the means by which policy victories have been delivered for disenfranchised minority communities. There is simply no doubting that the interests of black America remain central to the caucus’s aims. But there is also little doubt that the black electorate is changing, and the CBC will have to keep pace with this evolution if it wants to remain relevant to black Americans…

Protest is very much a part of the CBC’s character—many of today’s CBC members are contemporaries of the civil-rights movement. It would seem that today’s protest movements would be fertile ground for CBC goals. But many of today’s black activists are not as interested in what they see as respectability politics or dressing in their Sunday best for protests like their civil-rights-era predecessors. They are taking the stage whenever they choose and demanding that presidential candidates hear them. They are challenging leaders from previous generations, and some of those leaders don’t necessarily like it. In the black community, where eldership is revered, the boldness of today’s protesters has rubbed some CBC members the wrong way. Many black activists don’t care; they are less concerned with paying homage to elected officials and more interested in expedient policy outcomes…Read the Rest Here

 

.

 

.

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Black Voters and the Democrat Party

The following article attempts to make the case that the mass exodus from the Republican Party in the late 60’s due to Goldwater’s anti Civil Rights stance was counterproductive. That somehow, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 failed because while it made the legal structure of Jim Crow in America…It didn’t go far enough in eliminating the structure of White Privilege which remained. Never mind that it was the Republicans, led by Goldwater who gutted the legal and criminal enforcement section of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act leveling criminal and civil sanctions against violators, and protecting the continuation of discrimination to this day.

I mean, what if the folks who constructed the predatory mortgage loan were looking at 5-10 years in Gen pop, instead of a financial slap on the wrist during the 2006 meltdown? The simple fact is, since Goldwater it has always been a “conservative principle” to protect the racists, and the institutions which benefit them. Things like propping up the racist Southern Myth that the Civil War wasn’t necessary because the kindly slave owners would have freed the slaves.

The reason that now, near 97% of black voters support Democrats is really simple…Nixon, Reagan, and Bush. It’s a perverse argument, made in one form or another by the right, and has the logic of the Jews joining the Nazi Party in 1930’s Germany, because eventually Hitler would have seen the light.

The other fiction presented by the author is that Jim Crow only lived in the South. That isn’t quite true.

When Black Voters Exited Left

What African Americans lost by aligning with the Democratic Party

Days before the 1960 election, Coretta Scott King received a call from then-candidate John F. Kennedy while her husband was in a Georgia jail, charged with trespassing after leading a sit-in demonstration against segregation in Atlanta. “This must be pretty hard on you, and I want to let you both know that I’m thinking about you and will do all I can to help,” Kennedy told her. The Democratic nominee’s brother and campaign manager, Robert Kennedy, called a DeKalb County Judge and successfully lobbied for Martin Luther King Jr.’s release.

The personal call and the timely intervention significantly bolstered Kennedy’s standing among black voters. They also strengthened the political alliance between the Democratic Party and African Americans. After his release, King praised Kennedy for exhibiting “moral courage of a high order.” His father, the influential Baptist pastor Martin Luther King Sr., said, “Kennedy can be my president, Catholic or whatever he is. I’ve got all my votes and I’ve got a suitcase and I’m going to take them up there and dump them in his lap.” Kennedy earned 68 percent of the black vote, which was the decisive factor in key states like Illinois, Michigan, and South Carolina.

Once in the White House, Kennedy faced pressure from civil-rights activists to make good on what King called a “huge promissory note” to pass meaningful civil-rights legislation. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, he cemented a political alliance between African Americans and the Democratic Party that continues to this day. But celebrating these landmark pieces of legislation makes it easy to overlook what black people in the United States lost when civil rights and equality for blacks were hitched to the Democratic Party.

While the passage of the Civil Rights Act helped Johnson earn support from 94 percent of black voters in 1964, there is a gulf between what black Americans hoped the legislation would achieve and what Democratic politicians actually delivered. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped end apartheid conditions in the South, a critical objective for which grassroots black Southern activists fought and died, the legislation did little to address the structures of racism that shaped black lives in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia. This was an intentional consequence of how the bill’s sponsors, largely liberals from the North, Midwest, and West, crafted the legislation.

As King understood, Democratic politicians acted more boldly on race issues in Alabama and Mississippi than in New York and Massachusetts. “There is a pressing need for a liberalism in the North which is truly liberal, a liberalism that firmly believes in integration in its own community as well as in the Deep South,”King told the New York Urban League in September 1960. As the Urban League’s executive director Whitney Young put it a few years later, “liberalism seems to be related to the distance people are from the problem.”

After the 1964 election, where Republican candidate Barry Goldwater described the Civil Rights Act as unconstitutional, black voters essentially found themselves in a one-party system for presidential elections. Republicans turned their attention to white voters in the South and suburbs and have made few serious attempts in subsequent campaigns to appeal to the African American electorate. Richard Nixon in 1960 is the last Republican candidate to earn more than 15 percent of black votes.

Voting by Union or former confederate States

This is a problem for black voters, because the Democratic Party’s vision of racial justice is also extremely limited. Northern liberals pioneered what scholars now call “colorblind racism.” That’s when racially neutral language makes extreme racial inequalities appear to be the natural outcome of innocent private choices or free-market forces rather than intentional public policies like housing covenants, federal mortgage redlining, public housing segregation, and school zoning.

Democratic lawmakers drafted civil-rights legislation that would challenge Jim Crow laws in the South while leaving de facto segregation in the North intact. When NBC News asked the civil-rights organizer Bayard Rustin why many African American communities rioted the summer after the bill passed, he said, “People have to understand that although the civil-rights bill was good and something for which I worked arduously, there was nothing in it that had any effect whatsoever on the three major problems Negroes face in the North: housing, jobs, and integrated schools…the civil-rights bill, because of this failure, has caused an even deeper frustration in the North.” Today’s protest movements against second-class citizenship in Baltimore, Ferguson, Oakland, and elsewhere are in part a legacy of the unresolved failures of civil-rights legislation.

Unfortunately for black voters, most white politicians and voters assume that the civil-rights revolution not only leveled the playing field, but also tilted it in favor of African Americans. The white backlash to civil rights helped resurrect the Republican Party after the disastrous Goldwater campaign in 1964, and, over the last five decades, the Democratic Party has followed the electorate to the right.  …Read the Rest Here

One of the prophetical things Goldwater said that has come to be is –

 

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Black Church Is No Longer the Center of the Civil Rights Movement

A bit of “separation anxiety”?

No folks under 40…A problem for the Church

Black Activism, Unchurched

A new generation of young leaders in Baltimore are largely organizing outside of congregations. What does this mean for their movement—and for the church?

Where is the church in the Black Lives Matter movement?

The spirit of the black church has long animated the movements for civil rights and social justice in America. The call and response, the vocabulary of oppression and solidarity: These are the languages of sanctuaries and pews, of Sunday morning worship and Bible-study vigils.

But in the black- and youth-led political activism of the last several years, the church hasn’t been nearly as visible as it was in the civil-rights movement of the 1960s. After many decades in which the most prominent black activists were ministers, religious leaders seem to be playing supporting roles in the most recent wave of activism.

In Baltimore, this is particularly stark. Nearly a year ago, the city saw widespread riots and political outcry after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died of spinal injuries while in the custody of police. The long vibrant local activist community caught national attention, including a widely shared moment in the conflict when community leaders stood shoulder-to-shoulder with gang members in a northwest Baltimore church. In an earlier generation, Baltimore’s churches might have been the primary staging grounds for organizing protests and political action. Increasingly, though, the church is more of a backdrop.

In a 1976 interview, Enolia McMillan, the Baltimore NAACP president who would later become the first female head of the organization, observed that its “most dependable support … comes from the churches in Baltimore.”

“The main resources were bodies,” said Derek Musgrove, an associate professor of history at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. “The church was the organizational center of the community. You were guaranteed to see a certain number of people every Sunday, and a lot of those people were going to be participating in church activities throughout the week. You could get access to them.”

These days, there are fewer young black bodies in church pews. Although black 18-to-29-year-olds tend to identify as religious more than their white, Hispanic, and Asian peers, slightly less than a third don’t see themselves as part of any particular faith, according to the Public Religion Research Institute. They’re much less affiliated than their older black peers who are under 50, roughly a fifth of whom identify with no particular religion, and significantly less than those over 50, only a tenth of whom don’t have a religion.

Just as young black activists aren’t necessarily in the church, church leaders aren’t necessarily in the streets. During the protests following Freddie Gray’s death while in the custody of city police nearly year ago, pastors led drives to distribute food and water and efforts to open churches as safe spaces. Clergymen spoke at Freddie Gray’s funeral; a local megachurch pastor, Jamal Bryant, declared that police had seen Gray as a threat “simply because he was man enough to look someone in authority in the eye.”

“I don’t think that people give enough credit to the church or the church’s involvement,” said Brion Gill, a 25-year-old who describes herself as a poet, organizer, and cultural curator, who is pictured above. But, she said, “the idea that it’s not abundantly clear how many churches are involved in this work speaks to the lack thereof.” There are probably as many views of the church’s role in activism, and of activism’s relationship to religion, as there are activists in Baltimore. But, as Gill observed, the fact that it’s even a question suggests that something once powerful has changed.

Even Bryant—a fairly prominent figure in national protest movements, who was arrested in Ferguson and briefly mounted a campaign for Congress in September—sees a limit to his leadership in this movement. “The difference between the Black Lives Matter movement and the civil-rights movement is that the civil-rights movement, by and large, was first out of the church. The Black Lives Matter movement, largely speaking, is not,” he said. “The church is having to readjust: How do you become a part of something you don’t lead?”…Read the Rest Here

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on March 22, 2016 in BlackLivesMatter

 

Tags: , , , , ,

DOJ Newest Civil Rights Strategy – Locking Up Bad Judges

By now it should be obvious to everyone that the problems in Law Enforcement extend to the Judiciary. Further – conservative “No-Tax” freaks on the right have created a system wherein any semblance to a fair an equitable tax system is replaced by a predatory Judicial and draconian laws shifting the tax burden onto the poor. The Ferguson Report was a watershed in exposing such criminal schemes, often which target minorities under The New Jim Crow.

It has been a long time coming, but the DOJ is finally preparing to hold corrupt and predatory Judges at the local level…Accountable.

TITLE 18, U.S.C., SECTION 242

Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States, … shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

What is interesting about this law, is it goes far beyond just the issue of Debtors, and suggests that even local legislators may be held accountable for willfully creating local laws which violate Civil Rights as defined under the Constitution. Which doesn’t mean that a local law challenged before a higher court and ruled unconstitutional makes local legislators liable – but does mean those legislatures which (as in North Carolina) have ruled the Federal Constitution null and void can be tried and jailed for passing laws violating Civil Rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

I gotta believe that Tea Baggers in jail are going to have a harder time than Jared the child molester.

 

How Locking Up Judges Could End Debtors’ Prisons

Civil rights lawyers want the DOJ to give judges who break the law a taste of their own medicine.

Justice Department officials warned U.S. judges and court administrators this week that practices like incarcerating poor people without determining whether they could afford outstanding fines are illegal and unconstitutional.

But civil rights advocates with clients who’ve had their lives torn apart after being accused of petty crimes, receiving traffic tickets or charged with municipal code violations say the feds have a much more effective method of fixing the widespread problem: locking up judges.

In a nine-page letter sent to all state chief justices and state court administrators on Monday, the DOJ’s Vanita Gupta, who heads the Civil Rights Division, and Lisa Foster, the director of the Office of Access to Justice, urged local officials to “review court rules and procedures within your jurisdiction to ensure that they comply with due process, equal protection, and sound public policy.”

Judges who incarcerate poor people because they missed a payment are breaking the law, the letter said. What many courts consider a “routine administrative matter” of forcing defendants to pre-pay a “bond” or “bail” before they’re allowed to schedule a court date is actually unconstitutional, Gupta and Foster wrote. Locking people in cages for long periods of time solely because they can’t afford to buy their freedom is a violation of the country’s supreme law, the U.S. Constitution.

Civil rights advocates praised the Justice Department for sending the letter. However, they say there’s a much more powerful tool available if the feds really want to deter judicial crime: Federal prosecutors can hold judges accountable for their unlawful conduct by charging them with a federal crime.

Section 242 of Title 18 of the U.S. code — the so-called “color of law” statute — is the same federal civil rights legislation that Justice Department prosecutors use against police officers and prison guards who use excessive force and make false arrests. The law applies to prosecutors and judges, too. But the feds don’t use it against them often.

Hub Harrington, a former circuit judge in Shelby County, Alabama, who in 2012called Harpersville Municipal Court a “debtors prison” and a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket,” suggested prosecuting judges who break the law at a December meeting at the White House. He said he approached the Justice Department and the Alabama Attorney General about the issues in Harpersville and was frustrated that former Municipal Court Judge Larry Ward wasn’t charged over his conduct.

“We’ve been talking about the victims,” Harrington said at the time. “What about the perpetrators? We got the laws in place. We already have the law you can’t put indigent people in jail without a hearing. We don’t need more laws. We need to enforce the ones we’ve got.”

Alec Karakatsanis from Equal Justice Under Law, an organization that has been suing cities engaged in widespread unconstitutional practices, said the DOJ letter was a good start and could help “eradicate any notion that any judge can be ignorant of basic principles of constitutional law.” But he hoped bad judges would be indicted.

“For a long time, our courts have become places where impoverished people and people of colors’ rights are violated with virtual impunity every day as a matter of daily practice,” Karakatsanis said. “You’d like to think that the people who are tasked with applying the law are held to the same standards as everyone else, and when people are blatantly violating the law, there should be consequences for them.”

It would be “a hard argument for any judge to make that they thought it was OK for them to be throwing people in jail for not being able to make payments without making any type of inquiry into their ability to pay,” he added. But the problem is so widespread and commonplace that prosecution could be less likely.

“It’s not just a ‘few bad apples,’ we have a legal system that has lost it’s way, become desensitized towards caging people,” Karakatsanis said. “One of the really difficult and sad things about our legal system is that the more common something is, the more difficult it is to prosecute because there’s this sense that ‘Well, everyone is doing it, so it would break the system.’” …Read The Rest Here

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 19, 2016 in The New Jim Crow

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

 
%d bloggers like this: