How To Get Away With Murder? Try killing a black person in this country.
Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sean Bell, Amadou Diallo, John Crawford, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis and so many others are casualties of truth being stranger than fiction. The ABC drama starring Viola Davis isn’t just escapism. It’s a brutal reality that in the United States, one truly can get away with murder with the full support of blind Lady Justice since her subordinates do see color.
A lot of us braced ourselves for police officer Darren Wilson not being indicted on killing unarmed, 18-year-old Brown in August. So many other deaths against people of color have seemed sanctioned because there’s always some justification. Trayvon had a hoodie, Jordan and his friends were playing their music too loudly and Amadou was reaching for his wallet. There has never been a reason too small or ridiculous enough to offer a platform that excused the miscarriage of “JUST US” when it comes to justice, but we went through the motions once more with Brown.
Nonetheless, it hurt to hear the callous words spoken by St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch on November 24, 2014. It will be a date etched in history as Brown became yet another name added to the list of those who were failed by the system. McCulloch, who acted more like a defense attorney rather than an impartial agent of justice, declared that the grand jury decided that there was no probable evidence to indict Wilson. In the immortal words of Kanye West, “HOW SWAY?!”
That’s when I remembered that bit of knowledge Annalise Keating dropped during the first episode of How To Get Away With Murder. Discredit the witnesses. As McCulloch spoke, it’s more than obvious he was eager for the task. McCulloch first blamed social media and then flat out called the eyewitnesses who saw the altercation between Wilson and Brown liars. In his words, they “made it up.” A court case could have resolved the alleged conflicting stories, but Brown’s death was never meant to be examined in a legal setting. When questioned further by a reporter, McCulloch said he wouldn’t be pressing perjury charges. I wonder why. Actually, I don’t.
President Obama took to the airwaves to offer a speech about the need to respect the Grand Jury’s decision, but his words went in one ear and out the other. I have supported the president, but our community is entitled to its anger and we should not be talked down. Even as he spoke, the police were using tear gas to disperse the crowd. The protests in Ferguson have been peaceful thus far and any altercations were instigated by excessive police force. It hasn’t been pumpkin fest, turning over cars and destroying property over a squash plant, but yet the “animal” label sticks to us.
Over the weekend, Rudy “9/11” Guiliani insisted that Blacks needed to worry more about blacks killing each other. As Michael Eric Dyson pointed out, when a black person commits a crime, they are usually arrested and go directly to jail, they do not pass go monopoly style. Furthermore, there is the issue of proximity and opportunity. But yet, church elders don’t take to the pulpit in other cultures to wag their fingers. Others aren’t told to pull up their pants if they don’t want to get killed. They certainly aren’t treated like folks who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. We can rally in Ferguson and protest the crimes in our communities. Yes, we can and have.
Blacks are consistently expected to turn the other cheek if we want to keep Jesus happy and maintain the peace, but even He had a moment of righteous anger in that temple. We are entitled to the anger coursing through our veins. No, it is not a license to seek vengeance and hurt others but we should not be denied an emotion others aren’t judged for having.
W.E.B. Du Bois put it best when he declared that a system can’t fail those it was never meant to protect. But God sits high and looks low. He sits on His throne and I can only put my faith in His power for justice to prevail for He does not like ugly and this is another stain.