On December 14 on a cold rainy day, I saw three police cars descend on a vehicle full of four people, all black, outside of one of my neighbors homes. I went to see what was up. It turns out the driver had a suspended license. He and another passenger were handcuffed and sent to jail. The other two passengers went home.
The neighbors knew the people in the car. Hopefully, everything will be straightened out as this is a minor case of joyriding under suspension. Why the driver’s license was suspended is another story which is the family’s business.
Even though it wasn’t anything major, and no one got hurt, looking at the scene would make you think those people robbed someone at gunpoint. The officer searched the car at least four times from front to back. One cop walked up the street looking for any suspicious object as if the people threw something incriminating out of the vehicle like a gun. Thank goodness there was none. Still, seeing black folks cuffed and arrested is unnerving and unsettling.
Anyone who’s a regular here knows that when I get agitated or miserable when it comes to the subject where race is in the equation, I will blog about it. What I saw that rainy Saturday juxtaposed a recent story that’s gotten a lot of people ticked off.
In Keller Texas, a 16 year-old was arrested for killing four people while drunk driving. Ethan Couch stole some beer from Walmart, and wanted to go to another store. Along the way, he ran through a number of pedestrians killing four of them and injuring nine.
Couch was speeding until cops caught up to him. According to the arrest report, he was belligerent and uncooperative at the scene.
Now, you would think that a teen who stole beer, got drunk, sped and plowed through several people, killing four would have the book thrown at him. You would think that he would tried as an adult and get a hefty sentence. Yes, you would think that, and any regular person would agree that he needs to be punished in a way that fits the crime.
Lamentably, that was not the case. Couch was only slapped with a decade of probation and is required to go to rehab.
I dunno what punishment the people from yesterday got. My only hope that they get the appropriate punishment. Yet, there are cases where the so-called justice system was not so kind to poor people and people of color.
Marissa Alexander is a black woman facing 20 years for firing a warning shot to protect herself from her abusive husband. No one got hurt and the woman was standing her ground. Yet, she could get a prison sentence while her husband is free to do goodness knows what to goodness knows who.
Troy Davis was a black man tried and convicted for the murder of Georgia police officer Mark MacPhail. Davis, up until the last minutes of his life before he was executed, maintained his innocence. Despite witnesses recanting their stories that implicated Davis as the murderer, the evidence was proven insufficient and that someone else could’ve been more likely responsible for the officer’s death. Davis was never given a second trial. Instead, the state went ahead and sent Davis to his final moments on Earth.
Meanwhile, Ethan Couch, a white teen male from a rich family, will walk away. Why? According to a psychologist, he suffers from a case of “affluenza“. In other words, the kid is spoiled due to being overprivilege. And the judge Jean Boyd ultimately brought it.
Call me crazy, but wouldn’t giving him just ten years of probation only exacerbates it? It’s like saying you shot a couple and your punishment is not playing video games for one week.
What if Ethan had been black and poor. He would’ve been tried as an adult in a heartbeat. He would be considered as a juvenile delinquent who’s a menace to society. And he would be tried and convicted, possible facing the rest of his life in prison.
How many other cases are similar to Ethan’s where wealth and privilege play important roles in their sentencing? How many rich kids commit crimes and not get sentenced at all? Those are legitimate questions in a society where race and class determine what justice is in a system that severely lacks justice.