It often seems that the American national pastime is murderous assault on Black people. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s tally of one racist homicide every 28 hours is surely understated. The more Blacks die, the harder some whites push for broader latitude to kill them. There is no reciprocity in Stand Your Ground. ‘Self-defense means nothing when a black person asserts that right.’
Remember the names Garrick Hopkins, Carl Hopkins, McKenzie Cochran, Darrin Manning, and Charda Gregory. They are the latest victims of the unofficial but very real lynch law that has ruled America for centuries. Black people have always been victimized at the whim of racist white people, be they individuals, the police, prosecutors, judges or juries. This late date in history is no exception.
Thanks to the work of organizations such as the Malcolm X Grass Roots Movement, we know that a black person is the victim of murder carried out by police, security guards, and self-appointed vigilantes at least every 28 hours. MXGM and groups like it depend on their own resources and initiative, so the number of deaths is in all probability even higher.
In recent months, there has been a spate of killings and assaults on black people committed by white people whose actions are obviously based on race hatred. In West Virginia, Garrick Hopkins had the bad luck to purchase property next door to the ironically named Rodney Black, a white man with a cache of guns in his home. Black claimed that he thought he was being burglarized by the Garrick brothers, but that is beside the point. He saw two black faces and, while in a state of psychotic auto-pilot, killed them both.
In Michigan McKenzie Cochran was killed in broad daylight and on video tape by mall cops. They killed him with pepper spray and chest compression as he screamed that he couldn’t breathe. Charda Gregory is still alive but only after surviving a brutal assault in a police station, also in Michigan. After Gregory was arrested, physically restrained, and pepper sprayed, a white female police officer felt the need to add insult to injury and hack off the victim’s sewn-in weave and her hair. Gregory has had some satisfaction in seeing the officer fired after the assault, but the fact that the cop believed herself immune from prosecution while under constant video surveillance says quite a bit about the criminal justice system.
Now in the 21st century, the barbarians have once again been unleashed and have seized upon their traditional belief in the right to do anything they want to black people. Stand Your Ground laws are an example of modern day secession from what a civilized country ought to expect. At first it seemed odd that these new laws were needed in a country that always accepted a right to self defense. But there is nothing new about racism and nothing odd about it being protected with perversions of the legal system.
Stand Your Ground laws ought to be called Right to Kill for White People laws because that is precisely what they are. Self-defense means nothing when a black person asserts that right. In Florida Marissa Alexander was sentenced to 20 years in jail when she fired a shot at her estranged husband which didn’t even hit him. Georgian John McNeil served ten years for shooting a white man who threatened his son with a knife. Alexander and McNeil are now free but only because effective fights were waged for their freedom. Standing one’s ground wasn’t meant for them.
After every one of these dreadful events, black people are left to ask if a particular murder or assault was “racially motivated.” The appeals to prosecutors and the media begin. Press conferences are held and anguished families weep on camera. But no one has the courage to admit the terrible truth or to ask the truly pertinent questions.
How do black people defend themselves when the justice system is arrayed against them? Every white person with evil intent can kill first and fear perhaps being put on trial and fear even less being convicted. If the murderer is wearing a uniform the odds are overwhelmingly against any of that ever happening.
The mobs are so unafraid that they have resorted to their old ways. Sixteen-year-old Darrin Manning in Philadelphia very nearly suffered castration, one of the oldest atrocities in the book. Having a black mayor didn’t stop a white female police officer from rupturing Manning’s testicle so badly that he required surgery.
Federal civil rights prosecutions were never used very often and are now a relic of the past. For all of president Obama’s talk about Trayvon Martin “looking like me,” his killer George Zimmerman is free to come and go as he pleases without any reason to think that the Justice Department will go after him.
The old signs which read “a man was lynched today” should be dusted off for use in 2014. The fact that the Garrick Hopkins, Carl Hopkins and McKenzie Cochran were killed in 2014 instead of in 1914 ultimately makes little difference.
* Margaret Kimberley's is editor and senior columnist at Black Agenda Report.
* THE VIEWS OF THE ABOVE ARTICLE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR/S AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE PAMBAZUKA NEWS EDITORIAL TEAM
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