I do not know about you but for me the result of the George Zimmerman trial was a real disappointment. In the last post, I put up videos and did not write anything because I wanted to take sometime away from the blog, so that I could think about the case. I have decided to break down the issues surrounding the case over several posts.
This post will touch light on why the American government looks like this.
and not like this.
When Trayvon Martin was killed, people took to the streets because George Zimmerman was not arrested right away; he was arrested about 45 days after the incident. I believe the youth represented a large majority of the protesters in 2012 and they make up the majority of protesters today. So with that said I want to continue fueling that youth power.
One would think, after seeing the public outcry after Trayvon Martin’s death, that George Zimmerman’s trial would result in the prosecution of Zimmerman. Because the public through petitions and protesting expressed that they wanted to see a fair system. On Change.org, about 2.2 million people signed a petition for the prosecution of George Zimmerman. Any one in their right mind would just look at the number of petitions and see that the public have spoken. Than how is possible that the trial ended the way it did?
The video below is Democracy Now’s coverage of George Zimmerman’s Trial. The person of focus (the person who I want you to pay attention to) in the video is executive director of Dream Defenders, Philip Agnew. Mr. Agnew is a young black man who is sharing knowledge, wisdom and hope with other youths. Phillip Agnew points out many important things but for this post I will isolate quotes that will benefit my argument. Which is that the current judicial system is old and out-dated. The system needs more youth, people of color and women who are able to think differently than the ‘old white man mentality.’
Crucial statements made by Philip Agnew:
I watched CNN, as I watched HLN, I never saw a young person of color on there able to speak.
And what we see is a system not built for people of color, not built for the poor, and not built for young people.
I think we need to look at the environment that created a situation that grew a George Zimmerman and that snuffed out a Trayvon Martin.
The quotes above represent the reality of the system, the youth are rarely given a chance to directly influence the present and future of this country. Which is important because the youth are the ones who have to live in the future America, not the older people who take up room in the American government now.
Below is a video about a group of African Americans and Latino teenagers, who were falsely accused and charged with raping a woman in 1989. The video below is Democracy Now‘s coverage of the documentary called, The Central Park Five (2012).
Nermeen Shaikh: Donald Trump took out full-page ads in four city newspapers calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty so they could be executed.
Nermeen Shaikh: But in 2002, the convictions in the Central Park Five case were vacated after the real rapist came forward and confessed to the crime. DNA evidence confirmed he was the sole attacker. This came after the five defendants had already served sentences of almost seven to 13 years for the assault. To this day, their case continues to impact how the criminal justice system treats juvenile offenders.
Jim Dwyer: A lot of people didn’t do their jobs—reporters, police, prosecutors, defense lawyers.
Amy Goodman: Right now New York City is refusing to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the five men whose convictions were overturned after they spent years in prison, and now lawyers for the city are seeking access to footage gathered for the new film.
Sarah Burns: -I became fascinated by this story, this miscarriage of justice and how it had happened.
Nermeen Shaikh: One of the people, Jim Dwyer, I believe, from the New York Times in the documentary says that the way this case was represented in the media had to do—like the people who were actually convicted were proxies for other wars that were being fought in the city, had to do with crack cocaine coming into these neighborhoods, increasing rates of poverty, etc.
I thought that it was important to include the video above because it works as a reminder of how cruel the American judicial system has been to people of color in the past. America has changed since its birth, it was once a country that allowed slavery, than slavery was abolished but still a black man was prevented from being seen in public with a white woman. It took some time for segregation to be seen as something that is wrong, but still America was not an innocent country. Because it took part in immoral activities like using the war on marijuana as a tool to deport unwanted Mexicans. In 1989 America was a country that wrongly accused young black and brown boys of raping a young white woman. Because we all know that a white man would never do anything like that. This cruelty is in many ways is still present even though today we have a different America. The racial demographic of America is changing, the Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, one in three people living in America will be of Latin descent. And if the current trend continues, as it is now, by 2100 half of the entire population in America will be of Latin descent. So the judicial system should reflect the changing racial demographic of America.
The next videos below feature Democracy Now‘s coverage of Kenneth Chamberlain’s death.
Officer Stephen Hart: Mr. Chamberlain!
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: Don’t do that, sir. Don’t do that. Don’t do that, officer. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. Do not do that! I’m telling you I’m OK!
Officer Stephen Hart: Open up the damn door, nigger!
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: I’m telling you I’m OK!
Officer Stephen Hart: [inaudible]
Kenneth Chamberlain Sr.: I’m telling you I’m OK.
Mayo Bartlett: But when you have the complete tapes, you know that he’s telling them repeatedly, for at least 15 minutes, that he’s fine, he’s OK, and he doesn’t need help.
Mayo Bartlett: And it’s clear that the White Plains Police Department and the city of White Plains as a whole turns a blind eye to these things.
Juan Gonzalez: The vice president of a bank, who claimed that he threw him to the pavement, beat his head on the pavement, broke his nose, while arresting him for disorderly conduct.
Juan Gonzalez: And then, finally, Sergeant Fottrell, one of the supervisors on the scene, who is facing a—who just finished a trial from an African-American woman who claimed that he used a stun gun on her while arresting her, although he was acquitted in that trial.
Juan Gonzalez: Three of them were facing, at that very moment that they were in Chamberlain’s house, charges by citizens who claimed that they had abused them. So, this is part of what you’re looking at in terms of calling for a federal investigation of the White Plains Police Department?
I included the videos above because it shows where the American government is at today. It does not matter that a black man occupies the presidential seat, people of color are still considered second class citizens through the eyes of the judicial system.
The video below features Democracy Now‘s coverage of a documentary called, Gideon’s Army. This documentary follows the lives of young public defenders who work in the deep south, helping people of color and the poor.
Amy Goodman: In some states, it’s estimated 80 percent of people facing felony charges cannot afford to hire their own lawyers.
Amy Goodman: Often the lawyers appointed to handle their cases are faced with overwhelming caseloads and virtually no resources. The problem is especially bad in the South. The average caseload for a public defender in Miami-Dade County, Florida, at any one time is 500 felonies and 225 misdemeanors.
Amy Goodman: I mean, the figures are astounding. The U.S. has the largest imprisoned population in the world—what, two million people.
Travis Williams: I really became a public defender to fight the system, to make sure the police are held accountable, to make sure that the court system is held accountable to make justice work.
Amy Goodman: Talk about the significance of what it means to say 90 percent of people charged with a felony actually plead guilty. They don’t go to trial.
Travis Williams: They do not go to trial. You know, we have an FBI statistic, is 12 to 13 million people get arrested. So, from those people, many millions will be charged. If 90 percent of those people are pleading guilty, we are funneling people into the prison system. We are not giving them their day in court, which is what the Sixth Amendment—you know, you have the right
Amy Goodman: The facts and figures in this film—I mean, the average caseload for a public defender in Miami-Dade County—I read this already, I’m going to read it again. In Florida, Miami-Dade County, at any one time, 500 felonies, 225 misdemeanors—what, 725 cases. How is it possible? If you’re working 40 hours—and I know you work more, but 40 hours, this is like three minutes a case. How do people deal? How do lawyers deal with this?
The story about the public defenders above is an important one. Because it shows how hard one has to fight if they want to bring change to the system. The young people featured in the video represent the change that we need to see in the judicial system. Instead of the system fighting the change it sees by throwing people in jail, it should welcome the change by educating people, provide jobs, providing universal healthcare, etc. Because the people who are being criminalized (people of color and youths) are the ones who are going to guide America in the future. The only way we will get to see a better America is if everyone is welcomed to the table.