* Despite the title, nothing about this installment (language, content or otherwise) is "enjoyable" in any sense of the word.
[A]fter viewing the footage and hearing from witnesses, including the officer who used the chokehold, the jurors deliberated for less than a day before deciding that there was not enough evidence to go forward with charges against the officer, Daniel Pantaleo, 29, in the death of the man, Eric Garner, 43...Officer Pantaleo said in statement on Wednesday that he felt “very bad about the death of Mr. Garner."
"I think what is so utterly depressing is that none of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case. And yet the outcome is exactly the same: no crime, no trial; all harm, no foul. In Ferguson at least you had conflicting witness testimony, you had conflicting forensics. You had the spectre, at least, of police self-defense. But here, there is none of that. The coroner called it a homicide. The guy’s not acting threatening and we know that not through witness testimony [of] unreliable bystanders, but because we are fucking watching it. Someone taped it…We are definitely not living in a post-racial society, and I can imagine there are a lot of people imagining how much of a society we’re living in at all.”
On a related note:
It is the grand jury’s function not ‘to enquire … upon what foundation [the charge may be] denied,’ or otherwise to try the suspect’s defenses, but only to examine ‘upon what foundation [the charge] is made’ by the prosecutor. Respublica v. Shaffer, 1 Dall. 236 (O. T. Phila. 1788); see also F. Wharton, Criminal Pleading and Practice § 360, pp. 248-249 (8th ed. 1880). As a consequence, neither in this country nor in England has the suspect under investigation by the grand jury ever been thought to have a right to testify or to have exculpatory evidence presented.
- Justice Antonin Scalia explains what the role of a grand jury has been for hundreds of years...and yet "[Prosecutor] McCulloch allowed Wilson to testify for hours before the grand jury and presented them with every scrap of exculpatory evidence available" (h/t DM)
Many white people think that these cries of outrage over racism by African Americans are directed at them, which makes them frightened, defensive and equally outraged. They feel like they are being blamed for a problem that’s been going on for many decades, even centuries. They feel they are being singled out because of the color of their skin rather than any actions they’ve taken. They are angry at the injustice. And rightfully so. Why should they be attacked and blamed for something they didn’t do? Which is exactly how black people feel. The difference is that when the media frenzy dies down, and columnists, pundits and newscasters take a break from examining the causes of social evils, white people get to go back to their lives of relative freedom and security. But blacks still have to worry about being harassed or shot by police. About having their right to vote curtailed by hidden poll taxes. Of facing a biased judicial system. Every. Single. Day.
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, "Welcome to Our World"
“We went from our first name being ‘nigger’ and our last name being ‘boy’, to our first crime being Black and our second crime being Alive."
Whites, who benefit from racism, think it is acceptable to tell Black people to “behave” like MLK, when he was murdered for the same reasons that we have to fight today.
So what I would do [when I was pulled over] was: I would slip my college ID over my driver's license. The officer's eyes would light up. Not your college ID, he would say, amused. Then he would go back to his car and dally a little, pretending to check on things, before handing my license back with some mock-heroic advice about staying out of trouble. The story ends right there. I remember feeling vague anger afterwards, although I was probably feeling something a lot closer to despair. Every time I used the college ID trick, it bred in me a kind of survivor's guilt, a guilt about a life that feels as if it's being protected weakly, through cowardice. Because what I was really doing was saying, Yes, some of us deserve to be shot in the street, but this ID proves that I'm not one of them. I used the little plastic card to secure my status as One Of The Good Ones, and I always drove away ashamed, always. At best, I was reducing my humanity — my right to not get shot by a police officer — to a giveaway received during freshman orientation. At worst, I was just delaying what is now starting to feel inevitable... This is probably a good time to backtrack a little and talk about fear. To be black and interact with the police is a scary thing. The fear doesn't have to come from any kind of historical antagonism, which, trust me, would be enough; it can also come from many data points of personal experience, collected over time. Almost all black men have these close-call-style stories, and we collect and mostly keep them to ourselves until one of us is killed... The thing to remember is that each of these experiences compounds the last, like interest, so that at a certain point just seeing a police officer becomes nauseating. That feeling is fear.
- Do yourself a favor and take a quick moment to read Lanre Akinsiku's "Price of Blackness" in its entirety
I came into that meeting knowing that the illest part of racial terror in this nation is that it's sanctioned by sorry overpaid white bodies that will never be racially terrorized and maintained by a few desperate underpaid black and brown bodies that will. I left that meeting knowing that there are few things more shameful than being treated like a nigger by — and under the gaze of — intellectually and imaginatively average white Americans who are not, and will never have to be, half as good at their jobs as you are at yours... My Vassar College Faculty ID affords me free smoothies, free printing paper, paid leave, and access to one of the most beautiful libraries on Earth. It guarantees that I have really good health care and more disposable income than anyone in my Mississippi family. But way more than I want to admit, I'm wondering what price we pay for these kinds of ID's, and what that price has to do with the extrajudicial disciplining and killing of young black human beings.
- Like Akinsiku's piece (above), Kiese Laymon's "My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK" is well worth your time to read