I am sick and tired of everybody seemingly getting away with the legally acceptable murder of unarmed Black people in this country on a regular basis.
Not only am I sick of seeing Black people picked apart by select members of law enforcement, I’m also sick of us being picked apart by select members of the justice system.
Let’s start with unarmed Black people getting killed and receiving no justice.
Although it happened well before Trayvon Martin, it seems as if the killing of unarmed Black men and women has picked up steam and momentum since the acquittal of George Zimmerman – the man who murdered Trayvon in cold blood back on February 26, 2012, and legally got away with it.
If you have been following the news lately, I’m almost certain you’ve seen many of the attention-grabbing headlines surrounding a few nationally-recognized court rulings that have had many people across the entire country scratching their heads.
Let’s take the Akai Gurley murder by former rookie police officer Peter Liang for example.
Back on November 20, 2014, Liang and his partner were doing a sweep of an apartment building in East New York close to midnight, when a steel door slammed and apparently startled him. Liang, who had his service-issued .9mm Glock in his hand, let off with a shot once he heard the door slam, and the bullet ricocheted off the wall and struck Gurley, who was unarmed and innocent, in the chest.
On February 10, 2015, Liang was indicted by a grand jury on manslaughter, assault, and other criminal charges, and a year later a jury deliberated a little more than two days before reaching a guilty verdict of manslaughter and official misconduct.
The jury, in this case, did its job, but after doing his job, the prosecutor in the case, Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, baffled everybody by recommending that Liang not serve any jail time whatsoever. Wait….what?!? A jury found Liang guilty of the crime of manslaughter, and then the D.A., who is supposed to be responsible for getting justice for the victim(s) of those crimes, turns around and recommends that the newly-convicted criminal receive NO jail time?
And then to make matters worse, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun, slaps the family of Gurley in the face even more by opting to sentence Liang to only five years of probation and 800 hours of community service. The outcome of this case has been sickening to my stomach and a hard pill to swallow quite frankly. Sadly, we have had to swallow a lot of hard pills over the past several years.
Hertencia Petersen, Gurley’s aunt, was extremely upset after the judge’s ruling and let her feelings and anger be publicly known when she said:
“So you’re telling me it’s OK for a Black man in America, good ol’ America, to get murdered, and these officers who took an oath to serve and protect are not being held accountable?…But don’t worry, what goes around, comes around. Sooner or later, Peter Liang, if not him in his lifetime, someone in his family, is going to feel our pain.”
I don’t know if and when Liang or his family will feel the same pain that the family of Akai Gurley have been feeling since their loved one was tragically murdered for no reason, but what I do know is that it doesn’t measure up and the failure to get justice for Gurley is even more disturbing.
Why does it seem as if Black people are being used as modern day target practice for trigger-happy cops, who are always in “fear of their lives” when it comes to dealing with Black people?
What I find even more ironic is the disparity in the administration of justice when it comes to non-Black people and those of us who are Black. Take former NFL wide receiver Plaxico Burress for instance.
Burress mistakenly shot himself in the leg at a New York nightclub with a gun that had not been licensed in New York, and because of New York’s strict gun laws, he was sentenced to two years in prison. He shot himself in the leg and took a plea deal on a lesser firearms charge and still got two years behind bars. Liang was found guilty by a jury of his peers and receives absolutely NO jail time – NONE!
Now how crazy is that? What kind of justice is that? Same state and city – Different standard of justice.
Not only did Justice Chun give Liang a sweetheart sentence, he also changed the jury’s findings by downgrading their manslaughter conviction to criminally negligent homicide. Wow!
Now let’s move on to Black people being accused of crimes and receiving disparate justice.
What about this travesty right here?
Back on December 10, 2015, Joshua Williams, a 19-year old Black male who frequently participated in the Ferguson protests was sentenced to eight years in prison for starting a fire at a convenience store in Berkeley after the death of Antonio Martin, 18, who was fatally shot Dec. 23 by a Berkeley police officer.
Although prosecutors sought a 15-year sentence and Williams’ attorney asked for a suspended or lesser sentence, he was sentenced by St. Louis County Circuit Judge John D. Warner Jr. to eight years in prison for a fire that was put out before any extensive damage was even done.
But in the case of the infamous “Affluenza” teenager Ethan Couch, a judge recently gave him a severe sentence for all of his shenanigans and crimes – four consecutive 180-day jail terms.
Here you have a young White kid who stole alcohol from the store; drove a motorized vehicle under the influence of alcohol; killed four innocent people; paralyzed his friend; violated his juvenile probation after a video surfaced online last December that appeared to show him at a party where alcohol was served; changed his look to avoid detection; and evaded authorities for several weeks before being caught.
State District Judge Wayne Salvant sentenced this young White kid to only 720 days in prison, which is one 180-day sentence for each of the four victims he killed. This was after the travesty of him only receiving a sentence of 10 years’ probation from the onset because the judge believed the narrative that he suffered from having being spoiled with being around too much money.
It is sad that Black people are seemingly being used as target practice in this country, and it needs to stop as it relates to law enforcement and in the judicial system.
I don’t know if you recall hearing about the North Miami Beach Police who were called to the carpet after they were found to be using the mug shots of various local African American men as targets at a shooting range for police training. North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admitted that his officers could have used better judgment, but defended the department’s use of actual photographs and says the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills.
If members of society have become that blatant and callous as it relates to their view of Black people in this country, then it shouldn’t be a surprise why we have seemingly become target practice in both the areas of law enforcement and the judicial system.
Jeffrey L. Boney serves as Associate Editor and is an award-winning journalist for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is a frequent contributor on the Nancy Grace Show and has a daily radio talk show called Real Talk with Jeffrey L. Boney. He is a Next Generation Project Fellow, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and Founder/CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. If you would like to request Jeffrey as a speaker, you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org