Vail Daily column: Justice and ham sandwiches
Here it is, in black and white:
White people: The grand jury considered the facts in the police shooting of that unfortunate black teenager and on that basis did not indict the Ferguson, Missouri, police officer. Case closed. The system worked.
Black: Grand juries indict ham sandwiches, as the saying goes. Lightning and sharks kill more people than grand juries fail to indict. The system? The system has long been rigged. If ever a case needed to go to trial, this was it.
White: What don’t you people understand about facts, evidence, testimony? The incident was unfortunate, but anyone would have shot that kid the way he came at the officer, trying to beat him up in his squad car.
Black: What don’t you people understand about evidence being routinely tampered with, witnesses lying on the stand and facts conveniently altered? This has happened to us for generations. Your faith in the “facts” is misguided, to say the least.
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White: That video of Michael Brown robbing the convenience store and pushing the clerk around looked pretty real. Are you saying that’s an altered fact?
Black: Interesting that the mostly white Ferguson police released that video when they did but didn’t show any pictures of the white officer, Darren Wilson. Also that the officer was allowed to leave the scene of the shooting on his own; that he put his weapon into the evidence bag himself after being allowed to wash up; that his first interviews with investigators weren’t recorded. All of this is highly irregular, to say the least. And you are saying the system worked?
White: What could possibly have changed? We know Brown attacked the officer, who used deadly force only because he had no other choice.
Black: Do we? Some witnesses said he had his hands up and was surrendering when he was shot.
White: No one credible.
Black: Oh, because they were black, too?
White: No, because they weren’t credible. The facts and evidence are clear.
Black: So you say. This is why black mothers and fathers have to explain to their sons why they must behave in ways that white boys don’t have to worry about.
White: No, they just need to quit robbing stores and intimidating people. Anyone who acts like a thug and strikes menacing poses will attract that kind of attention from the police.
Black: Awfully convenient to say when young black males are shot to death by the police routinely.
White: That’s a ridiculous statement on its face.
Black: Oh really? Young black men and teenagers are 21 times more likely to be shot by police than white ones, according to ProPublica. One 12-year-old boy in Cleveland with a toy pistol was killed within two seconds of the police arriving. Two seconds!
White: You don’t get to wave a realistic pistol around and not expect …
Black: He was 12, in a park by himself, playing. You don’t think the police could have exercised a little more judgment? If he were white, guaranteed that would not have happened.
White: It probably would have.
Black: Then more white boys should be getting shot by the police. That just doesn’t seem to happen even though they are part of the majority of the population. Funny how it’s a lot more dangerous out there if you happen to have something other than white skin.
White: Then how do you explain Asian kids seeming to be OK? Don’t you think certain cultural characteristics have something to do with this?
Black: Sure. They’ve persisted for generations. The end of lynchings has not been the end of this, ahem, cultural characteristic in this country.
White: You are impossible. The rule of law in this country is what makes us great. I understand you are angry. But the fact is the grand jury, which considered all the evidence, ruled correctly that the officer acted within the scope of his duties. He did nothing wrong.
Black: And you have no sense of justice. You speak of evidence. Well, the evidence has been very clear for a long time, but you don’t accept those facts. New York is just one more example. The fact is, ham sandwiches have more rights than black folks.
Editor and Publisher Don Rogers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 970-748-2920.