This is a post about injustice. Injustice doesn’t come in one shape: the acquittal of a seemingly obviously guilty white-ish man for murdering a black teenager. Injustice comes in many stripes, shades and hues. Injustice is smaller than the Zimmerman acquittal and greater than it too. Injustice happens every day before your eyes, but you don’t see it.
Injustice is Warren Hill. In 2002, the United States Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to kill mentally retarded people. Georgia is a part of the United States. Warren Hill is a prisoner in the State of Georgia. Warren Hill is mentally retarded. His experts agree. The State’s experts agree. Yet Warren Hill is scheduled to die tomorrow. A mentally retarded man, in direct contravention to the Constitution of the United States. Because it’s Georgia and Georgia does what it wants.
Injustice is the hundreds of thousand of black men who went to jail for years longer than their white counterparts because of an imaginary crack-cocaine disparity.
Injustice is when children like Trayvon Martin or younger are arrested and treated as adults by a harsh, unrepentant adult criminal system, sending them to jail automatically for a decade or more.
Injustice isn’t at the fringes of the criminal justice system; it isn’t in the extreme corners and reaches, rearing its head every 6 months or so for you to vent your moral outrage at.
Injustice happens to the wrongfully convicted, like Ronald Cotton or James Tillman or Miguel Roman or the hundreds of others who were convicted by duly sworn juries just doing their jobs.
Injustice is every day. Injustice happens like a death by thousand cuts. Injustice happens to the guilty and the innocent. And every injustice to the guilty is injustice to the innocent.
Injustice is when we spend millions of dollars to fund police and prisons and prosecutors and our legislators increase the number of crimes and multiply the punishment without nary a thought to covering the costs of defense. Injustice is when your rights are in the hands of underpaid, overworked lawyers who are doing their best but are overwhelmed by an overwhelming system. Injustice is when “tough on crime” trumps the promise of equality in access to justice.
Injustice is when prosecutors get to decide what to turn over and what not to. Injustice is when they don’t turn over evidence proving innocence. Injustice is when the courts protect their illegal and unethical ways.
Injustice is when the police department in New York has a policy of stopping every minority and “frisking them”, because they were “wearing clothes commonly used in a crime“. Injustice is when the police department wants the power to stop anyone on the street, for any reason, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
Injustice is when “technicalities” are used to deny people their appeals, to forcibly impose convictions no matter the Constitutional violations or error. Injustice is when we elevate form over substance, format and rules over rights and freedoms. Injustice is when you punish people for exercising their rights.
Injustice is when they use fear to scare you into giving up your rights, telling you tales of the terrorist or the criminal whom you must punish.
Injustice is when you believe that you have nothing in common with the individual subjected to the full force of the government’s ire. Injustice is when you believe that you will never be a persecuted minority. Injustice is when you believe that you have nothing to hide, so you don’t say a word when they illegally look inside my house.
Injustice is when you pay attention when the media tells you to and you stop thinking for yourself. Injustice is when you go into court, predisposed to convict.
Injustice is when you think justice only applies to the innocent or the likeable. Injustice is when you decide that one set of rules apply to you and another set of rules to those that you don’t like. Injustice comes in a dazzling array of colors. Do you have the courage to not be afraid anymore?
Can you stop being colorblind to injustice?