Is it really a surprise to people in the black community that the three police officers on trial for the murder of Sean Bell were acquitted? In New York, New York of all places? Is this not the same city where police sodomized Abner Louima, a black man in their custody, and then tried to deny it? Is this not the same town where Amidou Diallo, a black man walking home with a bag of groceries in his arms, was gunned down for pulling out his wallet to identify himself? Was it not too far from here where John White was found guilty for shooting a drunk white teen while trying to defend his family and his home from a mob of white kids? Do we really need another example of the contempt the dominant community has against people from the black community?
Did anyone really think that the family of Sean Bell would be able to attain some kind of justice when there was no justice for Martin Lee Anderson, the fourteen year old black boy, who was murdered on camera by seven boot camp guards while the boot camp nurse looked on and approved everything they did? Did anybody think there would be justice for a black man when we watched the tape of several New Orleans, Louisiana’s finest beating sixty four year old Robert Davis to the ground for the crime of asking a police officer for information and making the comment about the police department’s unprofessional conduct?
We all watched with horror and with sick fascination the tape of a boot camp guard holding a baton against Martin Anderson’s throat, keeping him up as his body surrendered its last bit of strength and tried to slump to the ground, while the other guards beat him. We watched the police in New Orleans initiate the attack against Mr. Davis, wrestle him to the ground as they yelled for him to put his arms behind his back as the law enforcers held his arms in front of him, we could hear Mr. Davis saying that he would if they would just let him. And yet, the judges and juries will say that they watched these videos and concluded that the black victim was actually a perpetrator who could have prevented the entire ordeal simply by doing what they were told. Why would we expect anything different here?
Why do we act surprised to hear about this latest acquittal? Did anyone really expect anything different to happen? A police officer can expect to lose his or her job for inconveniencing the mother of the mayor’s wife by giving the woman a speeding ticket, but a police officer that kills an innocent black man in a case of mistaken identity is untouchable. One of the police officers shot at the car Mr. Bell and his friends were in thirty one times. He had to reload his gun in order to keep shooting. It didn’t mean a thing in the judge’s eyes. It was all understandable.
The dominant community continues to hound Barack Obama for the divisive but true comments of his former pastor Jeremiah Wright. But are Mr. Wright’s comments more divisive than the actions of police officers that will shoot a black man, taking the time to stop and reload, thirty one times? Are Mr. Wright’s comments somehow more divisive than a judge who will say that the testimonies from black witnesses are not credible because they have convictions? These are the same judges that wouldn’t hesitate to come down on a black defendant with a prior conviction that confesses to a crime. And then people have to wonder why people in the black community don’t bother to help the authorities solve crimes.
Many people in the black community continue to think that the best bet for our survival is to do our best to try and integrate, to live among the dominant society where people on a regular basis are acquitted of the crime of killing and abusing black people at any time for any reason. In today’s socially charged atmosphere of racial disparity and discrimination it is a feat of the highest legal skill, experience, and knowledge to get a court to recognize discrimination in the business environment. Now, the courts are making it just as difficult for a black person to get some kind of justice when we are gunned down when minding our own business. We are convicted for trying to defend our homes from angry white drunks. Our word means nothing in the court room. But let one of us say goddamn America and black people are the ones being divisive.
People in the black community need to rethink our relationship with the dominant community. The disparity between the two communities is getting wider and wider. Police murder us in the streets and suffer no repercussions while black pastors are demonized for preaching about racial disparity in our communities. Even when the most extreme forms of this discrimination is caught on tape it is dismissed as our fault because we didn’t prostrate ourselves in front of the cop fast enough or the police officer was having a bad day and had to release his frustrations on the black citizen or whatever. We are in danger every time we come out in public from the very people sworn to protect the public. The police and the courts are doing their best to protect the public from black people.