Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Emmet Till, Trayvon Martin.
These are just four young black men who were killed and yet committed no crime to warrant even a suggestion that they deserved to die.
Diallo, 23, was shot at with 49 rounds by police—19 hit him—in February 1999 by New York police after pulling his wallet from his coat. The cops thought he was a suspected rapist, saying he fit the description. But that shooting was called an “accident,” by police. The officers involved went on trial but were acquitted.
Bell was shot 6 years ago in New York … New York again, hmm … by police after he and two of his buddies left a night club following his bachelor party. He was to be married about a week later that November 2006. Instead he was buried by his family. He was shot at 51 times; four bullets struck him. His two friends were wounded. The officers went on trial but were found not guilty.
The two white Mississippi men who kidnapped, tortured and beat Emmet Till to death in 1955 were tried and acquitted that year.
And now, Trayvon Martin, who committed no crime, becomes another black man killed for no reason who will not get justice. And Martin, Till, Bell, and Diallo are not the only ones. Their cases were just among the most publicized. Other criminal cases involving black men have been publicized as well.
Football star Michael Vick spent nearly two years in jail, plus two months of home confinement before his sentencing, for being involved in illegal dog-fighting ring. Former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress accidentally shot himself … he shot himself … while in a night club. He took a plea deal and spent nearly two years in jail. He was denied work release.
If you kill a dog, you get two years. If you shoot yourself, you get two years. If you shoot at black men 50-100 times, or once in the chest after stalking them, you get acquitted. Anyone who tries to excuse or explain away this obvious imbalance in justice as it applies to blacks can go to … you know where you can go.
The U.S. justice system remains out of whack and unfair when the defendants are poor, uneducated and especially a minority, in particularly black.
And stop mentioning O.J. He was rich and his wealth helped him in his first trial. But in two other trials, the prosecutors got him both times. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton—all rich and famous—committed crimes that would have resulted in the rest of us mere mortals doing significant jail time. But when all things are relatively equally, all things are not relatively equal.
Susan Smith, a white South Carolina woman, drove her two young kids in a lake and let them drown while she escaped from the car. She was depressed or something, she would later say. But in the immediate aftermath, she said a black man snatched her kids. She eventually confessed to killing them herself. She was tried and convicted in 1995 but escaped the death penalty, her defense arguing that she had a personality disorder.
In February of this year, a black man, Warren Hill, who was serving time in Georgia for a murder charge, was sentenced to die by lethal injection for killing another inmate, even though doctors found Hill to be mentally retarded. Perhaps Hill should have used Susan Smith’s doctors, or maybe he should have claimed to have a personality disorder. His appeal for clemency was denied this month and his execution remailns a possibility. He’s not the first mentally-retarded black man to be executed despite his legitimately-diagnosed condition. And he probably won’t be the last.
But don’t think black women have it any easier in the criminal justice system.
Marissa Alexander, a Florida woman and longtime victim of domestic violence, is currently facing 20 years in prison. Her crime? Shooting a warning shot at her deadbeat husband who was trying to whoop her ass again. George Zimmerman can “stand his ground” in Florida and kill an unarmed kid. Alexander stands her ground and gets 20 years. Supporters of her conviction, including Florida officials, said Alexander could have hurt an innocent person by firing the shot in the wall.
See, this is what people do when the victims, or perpetrators, are black. You’re guilty, in their eyes, whether you’re the victim or perpetrator.
Black folk, and anyone else with a conscious and common sense, should be outraged at the Zimmerman verdict, as well as other similar miscarriages of justice.