nick kristof is right. we need a truth and reconciliation commission on race in america. immediately.
I'm supposed to be writing opening statements for a debate as part of this week's Executive Seminar at The Buckley School of Public Speaking. I can't concentrate, so I'm hoping that if I get some of the unintelligible chatter out of my head and onto the blog I can go back to doing my homework for now.
image via nytimes.com
HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING, AMERICA? NOTHING AT ALL? Last week when a grand jury decided to not indict Officer Darren Wilson they basically waved a brush of privilege over the unconscionable. Somehow a number of brains were washed into believing that an indictment is the same as a final verdict. That an indictment automatically means guilt. Through this massive brainwashing a basic American right--a basic American truth--was denied. Officer Wilson was placed above the right for his guilt or innocence to be determined in a court of law by a jury of his peers. This is not the same thing as a determination of guilt or innocence, as described by the Ohio State Bar Association:
“Q: What does it mean when someone is “indicted”?
A: Just because someone is indicted does not mean he or she is guilty of any crime. As described above, the grand jury process is simply a means of charging someone with a crime, and the grand jury’s decisions are based merely on probable cause. The grand jury’s decisions are not held to the much higher standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that must apply to convict a person at a trial. Further, the nature of the evidence the grand jury may rely on is quite different, and little if any defense information is presented. One can expect, therefore, that the grand jury will charge many more people than will be convicted. That is its function—to initiate and, to a limited extent, screen cases to determine which should go forward.
Q: What happens if a person is indicted?
A: An indicted person will enter a plea to the charges. If a person proceeds to trial, he or she is presumed innocent. It will then be the trial judge or jury, a different body, which will decide whether or not to convict. That decision will be made only after all of the lawfully admitted evidence from both sides has been heard and it is determined that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. ”
— "How Does A Grand Jury Operate?" via ohiobar.org
So now here we sit, absorbing the news that there will be no indictment for the NYPD officer who continued to squeeze Eric Garner, who was unarmed, in a chokehold--a procedure that has been banned by the NYPD--even after Garner uttered the words, "I can't breathe!" and held him as such, leading to Garner's death, which was ruled a homicide by the coroner's office.
A prohibited procedure was used by a white police officer that led to the death of a black civilian, and this police officer will not go to trial.
In Sunday's New York Times, Nick Kristof called for America to follow the example of post-apartheid South Africa by creating a Truth and Reconciliation Commission on race. I agreed wholeheartedly on Sunday morning, and now I'm officially begging for this to happen. 2014 is bearing an increasing resemblance to the Jim Crow South, except spread over the entire nation. This is not something that can happen. This is not the nation I was raised to be so proud of. This is a nation that needs to right itself before it's too late.