Leonard Pitts: Commentary on Jena Six


When the justice system lacks justice

[…] White men taking sledgehammers to the door of the jailhouse in Marion, Ind., intending to murder three African-American prisoners. The sheriff orders his men not to interfere.

White men hearing testimony tying two white defendants conclusively to the kidnap, torture and murder of a black boy in Money, Miss. The jury takes less than an hour to set them free.

White men with badges arresting three civil rights workers for an alleged traffic violation in Neshoba County, Miss. Forty-four days later, the workers’ bodies are dug out of an earthen dam.

There are other examples — literally thousands — but let three suffice to make the point. Which is that African Americans have frequently found the justice system to be about anything but justice. From the day slavery ended, that system has often been its surrogate, a tool used specifically for the suppression and control of black people.

There was no artifice about it. This conspiracy of beat cops and county sheriffs and DAs and judges and senators and attorneys general operated openly and with impunity. Everyone knew there were simply different rules, different enforcement and different punishment for blacks.

Maybe your impulse is to seal all that off in a mental box called history, interesting, lamentable, but hardly relevant. In which case, what will you say about Jena? […]

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About Janet Logan

Well educated woman, transgender / transsexual, lesbian, Reiki practitioner, LGBT activist, polyamorous, and eclectic Pagan.
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