The Call for Vigilante Justice

The Call for Vigilante Justice

© David Burton 2014

Handcuffing our military

     With the Missouri grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown, the demagogues in our midst have again come out of the woodwork, eager to once again play the race card. One more time, they have again raised the old time-worn charges of racism, racial profiling, oppression of blacks, and the rampant murdering of blacks by whites. The truth remains that while the killing of Michael Brown is truly a tragedy, the much greater tragedy lies is the horrendous number of blacks killed on a daily basis in this country – and the fact that most of these killings of blacks are committed by other blacks – not by white vigilantes, not by white policemen, not by white supremacists.

     Following the announcement of the grand jury decision, violence erupted in the St. Louis area and in other cities across the nation. Immediately after the announcement of the verdict, more than 80 arrests were made in the St. Louis area, as protesters fired more than 100 gunshots and burned and looted as many as 25 buildings and vandalized police cars in Ferguson, Mo.

     These events recall what transpired following the 2012 shooting of a 17-year-old black youth, Trayvon Martin, by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Florida. Zimmerman was ultimately acquitted of charges against him and rioting and protests took place after the verdict was announced.

     Back in 2011, hundreds or thousands of protestors demonstrated against corporate greed, global warming and social inequality, among other grievances in what became known as the “Occupy Wall Street Movement.” These muddled headed and disorganized individuals accomplished little except to antagonize the majority of thinking Americans and to discredit their movement. The rioters, arsonists, looters and misguided protesters that have taken part in protesting the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown killing are not different. The Occupy Wall Street crowd (OWS) and their followers were delusional. So are the Michael Brown protesters. Organizing protests to block traffic or confront law enforcement authorities accomplishes nothing except to glean bad publicity and incur the animosity of most rational Americans.

     Legitimate protests are a time-honored American tradition, but blocking traffic, looting businesses, burning down buildings and torching cars does not constitute legitimate protest. What we have witnessed in Ferguson, Missouri and elsewhere around the nation is nothing but a call to vigilante justice by perpetual agitators, malcontents, “professional” protestors, and closet anarchists.

     I wasn’t present in Ferguson when Officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown - neither were any of the people protesting his killing. I wasn’t in the grand jury room during the months of testimony and presentation of evidence in the case - neither were any of the people protesting his killing. The only people who have heard all the testimony and seen all the evidence were the 12 people on that grand jury. The grand jury of nine whites and three blacks had been meeting weekly for over three months to consider evidence in the fatal shooting of the 18-year old Michael Brown. The panel met for 70 hours and heard from 60 witnesses. Those jurors, and only those jurors, had the right to judge whether or not to indict Officer Wilson. They were the only people who heard every witness and reviewed all the evidence. The undisciplined protesters now rising up in indignation and who remain ignorant of the facts in the case deserve no respect or support for their actions. They prejudged Officer Wilson and found him guilty without a trial, without hearing all the testimony, and without being presented with the evidence in the case. Shame on them! America does not need vigilante or mob justice – it has a system of justice that is fair to all. We all need to let the system do its work and we need to abide by the verdicts that are produced by this system. There are more appropriate means of appeal than irrational protests and the violence that nearly always accompanies these protests.

     The English and American concept of a trial by jury means that guilt or innocence of the accused is to be determined by a jury of one’s peers after all evidence for and against the accused is presented. While the American system of justice presupposes innocence, it does not mean that one is innocent. It simply means that guilt must be proven during the trial. The determination of guilt or innocence awaits the conclusion of the trial and the verdict by the jury.

     This concept appears to be incomprehensible to a number of people in this country. We see, read and hear about people proclaiming the guilt or innocence of persons on trial and also their victims before a trial even begins and before all of the facts in the case become known. Such behavior smacks of gross stupidity, ignorance, prejudice, and/or a total disregard/disdain for the English and American concepts of justice and the law.

     All too often today, we have “trials by tabloids” or “trials by media”, when media outlets create a widespread perception of an individual’s guilt or innocence through the release of prejudicial material before any trial actually takes place. The sensationalism that frequents today’s media severely threatens the judicial system’s ability to render an unbiased verdict in many cases. All too often, people decide on the guilt or innocence of the accused long before the actual facts are presented at trial or in grand jury hearings.

     Prior to and during the trial, our judicial system requires a presumption of innocence on the part of the accused. It is up to the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. Adverse pre-trial publicity and media bias are inimical to the American system of justice – freedom of the press should not foster a lynch-mob mentality in the public.

     What needs to be addressed more than the guilt or innocence of Darren Wilson or George Zimmerman and what would be more appropriate as the focus of a protest is the fact that black-on-black crime is a serious national tragedy that is unfortunately swept under the rug by those more concerned with elevating their own racially-driven agendas than addressing the real issues at hand. The Michael Brown shooting is only the most recent example of this fact.

     Grim statistics support a very different narrative than the one usually offered by those who routinely portray an America where members of the Black Community are selectively targeted and brutalized by white racists. Remember, we are talking about a situation in which one white police officer killed one Black American. How often does this happen? Such events tend to occur perhaps once a year or two or even less frequently.

     Much more significantly, a 2007 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that 8,000 to 10,000 African Americans are murdered annually in the United States. Also contained in the report is the fact that 93% of these murders are perpetrated by other blacks. The analysis, supported by FBI records, finds that in 2005 alone, African Americans accounted for 49% of all homicide victims in the US — again, almost exclusively at the hands of other African Americans. While the killing of any teenager, white or black, is deplorable, far more deplorable are the daily killings of young and old members of the black communities in many of America’s large cities. And, these killings are rarely committed by members of the white community. Yet, the protestors in the Michael Brown killing rail against the grand jury decision exonerating one white police officer in the death of one African American. Let the protesters protest against the really significant problem – one where the facts are incontrovertible. In reference to the 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida by a white neighborhood watch volunteer, the president of the Urban League of Greater Miami, quite correctly stated that the outrage should be about blacks killing each other and about black-on-black crime.

     Officer Darren Wilson may or may not have killed Michael Brown in self-defense. George Zimmerman may or may not have killed Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Apparently unbiased juries have decided that both Darren Wilson and George Zimmerman acted in self-defense. But, whether or not they did should no longer be the focus. What should be the main focus of our attention – and protests - is the much larger issue of how to stop 10,000 blacks from being killed each and every year – most of them by other blacks.

     Those who are spreading the venom of racism are no friends of the black community. They distract the black community and their supporters from attacking and solving the real problem. While these protesters rant and rave and stir up racial animosity, thousands more of young blacks are being killed. These professional hate-mongers keep the pot of racial hatred boiling. Their divisive actions direct attention away from the real issues and waste the energies of the black community and their well-intentioned, but blissfully ignorant supporters. America needs to ignore and condemn those trouble-making vultures who are always in need of a cause – and, in this case, that cause is disunity and race-based animosity. We need to ignore the call for vigilante or mob justice and we need to keep our eyes on the real prize – the end to the killing of 10,000 African Americans each year.

  26 November 2014 {Article 205; Whatever_38}    
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