FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Ain’t No Equal Justice

by

Angela J. Davis is a law professor at American University and a former director of Washington, D.C.’s public defender office. This combination of experience and knowledge lends some extra heft to the task she has undertaken in compiling the essays present in the 2017 book Policing the Black Man: Arrest, Prosecution and Imprisonment. Armed not only with an encyclopedic understanding of US laws as they apply to Black men across the nation, Davis’s experience in the D.C. public defender’s office provides the book with a legitimacy one gains by working some of the toughest city streets in the country; a city whose Black population has been under suspicion by its federal overseers and police force since before the US Civil War.

To describe the purpose of this book, let me quote Davis from her introduction: “The tragic killings of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, and others served as the catalyst for this anthology. But these killings also inspired the contributing authors to think about all of the ways that Black men are “policed”—in the broad sense of the word—heavily and harshly at every step of the criminal process.” In attempting this endeavor, Ms. Davis has compiled a collection of articles written by law professors and other faculty from across the United States. Each essay reflects upon various elements of law enforcement, the court process, legal interpretations of the law, or the history of discrimination against Blacks in the United States.

As the title suggests, the essays herein cover a range of subjects. From the racist nature of the “stop and frisk” laws to the failure of prosecutors to do their job when it comes to police who murder Black men; from the treatment of Black boys by police and the juvenile justice system to the history and uses of the grand jury, the writers here provide a serious counter argument to the so-called crime experts in think tanks from the far right to middle of the road liberal. Both history and current statistics are used to prove that the aforementioned killing of Black boys and men is not an anomaly but business as usual. Likewise, the writers make their arguments with a hope that things might change for the better…and soon.

The essay I found the most interesting was one titled “Do Black Lives Matter to the Courts?” Written by two members of the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Jin Hee Lee and Sherrilynn Ifill, the essay addresses the question of racism in a supposedly color-blind justice system. Having to prove a police officer’s discriminatory intent is ultimately a means by which the unfair arrest and prosecution of Black men can continue because the so called color-blindedness of the system is anything but. The US system of justice is racially structured. Even if a police officer or prosecutor is not intentionally racist, the fact is that the nature of policing—from the random stops in the street or on the highway to the prosecution in the court—is designed to trap Black men more than any other demographic. Both history and the present situation make this quite clear.

Policing Black Men is an interesting collection of essays regarding the US justice system and its dealings with a specific US demographic that has historically felt the brunt of that system. Some of the essays indict the system’s failings and occasionally suggest reforms the particular writers believe would diminish the injustices Black men suffer in the courts and in their dealings with police. Other pieces point out the consistent nature of the systems’ abuses and bring up the very real question of whether or not it is the system itself that needs to be replaced. In other words, the writers of these articles consider the US system of justice so flawed when it comes to arresting and prosecuting Black men it cannot be reformed. To argue this possibility is quite radical. To back it up with statistics and history, as this text does, makes that radical argument even stronger than the anecdotal evidence one sees in the media almost daily. In today’s world where the president of this pathetic, hateful nation calls for more police brutality and insults an entire island of Black and brown skinned people, this book is not just useful, it is necessary.

More articles by:

Ron Jacobs is the author of Daydream Sunset: Sixties Counterculture in the Seventies published by CounterPunch Books. His latest offering is a pamphlet titled Capitalism: Is the Problem.  He lives in Vermont. He can be reached at: ronj1955@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as a Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
Jan Oberg
The New US Syria “Strategy”, a Recipe For Continued Disaster
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Jeff Berg
Approaching Day Zero
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Seth Sandronsky
Misreading Edu-Reform 
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
David Yearsley
Winston and Paddington: Marianelli’s Musical Bears
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail