The Battle for Justice and “The Language of the Unheard”
The Grand Jury decision to not indict Officer Wilson for shooting Michael Brown 12 times, including even when he was injured and had his hands up, has brought to surface facts about the criminal (in)”justice” system in America that should have been clear a long time ago. One of these facts that have come to light is that prosecutors, especially white prosecutors, who are assigned to present a case against cops who shoot and kill unarmed citizens, especially if they’re white and the victim black, often do the opposite and act as the officer’s defense attorney, with the complete silence, complicity and even cooperation of the presiding judge. That’s what the Assistant District Attorney did in the case of Grand Jury investigation of Officer Wilson’s shooting and killing of Michael Brown. She basically told the jury that, according to an old Missouri law, which has long been reversed and deemed unconstitutional, a police officer had the right to shoot a suspect, if he runs or won’t comply with the officer’s orders or is belligerent. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1985 against that practice, which used to result in cops executing people on the streets for minor violations or just the suspicion of a violation, on a regular basis, making that practice illegal. She clearly must have known that when she was citing that old defunct law to the jury. In fact, after telling the jury that blatant lie, she vaguely added that the Supreme Court had issued a different opinion about “part” of that law, which was another lie, even while trying to not be too obvious about what she was trying to do in that courtroom. The Supreme Court deemed the entire law unconstitutional, not just a part which she didn’t even elaborate What part she was talking about. And, when a juror asked if the Federal law overrides the Missouri law, instead of telling the truth, which was an obvious and unambiguous “yes”, she said: “don’t worry about that”! One could have expected such immoral falsification of the truth from a defense attorney, who wants to win at all costs, even if it takes lies and trickery, but not from the prosecutor. On the contrary, the prosecutor’s job is to prevent such duplicitous defense, when the defense team resorts to it.
Let’s say it as it is: this was not negligence or incompetence or a “mistake”, as Lawrence O’Donnell, who, to his credit, discussed it on his show on MSNBC, called it, but rather, a conspiracy to mislead the jury and was an obstruction of justice meant to shield the officer from facing Justice and therefore is a crime. But, we’d be naive to think that this was an isolated case. In George Zimmerman’s trial for shooting to death Treyvon Martin, both prosecutors and the judge deliberately made the erroneous point that the case had nothing to do with race or racism, when it clearly had everything to do with it. In fact, it was the motivating factor.
What also should be clear to us all is that it took protests to even arrest George Zimmerman and took even more protests to form a grand jury to investigate Officer Wilson. Meanwhile, while we protest the injustice in Ferguson, none of the New York police officers who killed Eric Garner, a black father of six, with an illegal chokehold, have been indicted. And, just yesterday the police in Cleveland, Ohio shot and killed a 12 year old boy who was playing with a toy gun. They shouted at the child to show his hands (what child would immediately understood such a command and comply in less than 2 seconds?) It took a mere 2 seconds for the officers to open fire on the 12 year old!
After the Rodney King beating in Los Angeles, in 1992, it took massive riots to make even some limited and superficial “reforms” in the LAPD. During those riots that continued for weeks, the entire Los Angeles police force went into hiding and not a single one dared to stay in the streets. But, while “a riot is the language of the unheard”, as Dr. Martin Luther King pointed out, it isn’t enough. What’s needed is a nationwide and protracted movement with nonstop and militant protests like the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s that will combine the demand for social justice with the struggle for economic justice that will also include the demand to put an end to US crimes, acts of terror, wars and massacres overseas, against the poor of the world, for the enrichment of the .1%, at the expense of the vast majority of the population of the world and our environment.