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On Tamir Rice: Justice Is Whatever America Can Justify

On Tamir Rice: Justice Is Whatever America Can Justify December 29, 2015

So long as our system is able to sanitize every one of its corrupt, abusive, and deplorable actions with the label of “justice,” justice will always and only be whatever America can justify–whatever America can get away with. Sadly, it should come to no surprise to anyone that a system this corrupt and bereft of any understanding of true justice would further pervert itself to justify the killing of Tamir Rice and countless others. But the lack of surprise does not assuage the pain or minimize the anger.

In no other scenario would prosecutors operate as defense attorneys offering “expert” testimony in favor of the accused except when the accused is a police officer. The adversarial construct of our so-called justice system becomes a staged performance presented by the fraternity of officers of the courts and officers of the law. The song and dance presented by Timothy McGinty of Cuyahoga County to exonerate the killers of Tamir Rice were precisely the model Bob McCullloch used in Ferguson to exonerate Darren Wilson.

The grand-jury system is now a means of dispensing with the adversarial construct at the core of our justice system and creating a framework through which the prosecutor can actively and quickly seek the exoneration of their colleague. Instead of an adversary, police officers find an ally. Instead of cross-examination, police officers find a stage for them to tell their side of the story uninhibited. Their narratives are presented to jurors as truth without any contention. Besides, the victims are dead and can’t speak for themselves.

Their machinations were never intended to obtain true justice. And while FBI Director James Comey worries about police officers being afraid of doing their jobs, the real Ferguson Effect is the prosecutorial methodology of exoneration perfected Bob McCulloch now being utilized across the country with great success.

Furthermore, Grand Jury members exist in a society in which black Americans are too often not viewed as neighbors, fellow citizens, or even human beings: we are often viewed, first, as criminals. After the media has had its way with our image, grand juries can easily dismiss the dead as “thugs” while being convinced that the police officer acted heroically. This reality jades the lenses through which jurors view both a black criminal defendant and the way they view the actions of an accused police officer. This is the reason it is all but impossible to indict a police officer while simultaneously being all too easy to indict, convict, and sentence African Americans.

Then when the police officers walk away and the jury is dismissed, the prosecutors hi-fives each other and they are all free to go home to their families with a sense of satisfaction and justification–as though they have done “the Lords work,” and the barbarians have been dealt with. They pat each other on the back and say, “Great job!”

All parties involved — the police, the jurors, and prosecutors– are then emboldened to assert to anyone who feels slighted and feels that the system is rigged that “Justice was served.” They are able to do this because their actions have been sanitized by the misnomer of justice while the rest of us are left to observe the machinations of a system that is neither blind nor equitable.

No. Justice was not served. Justice can never be served when justice, to them, is anything they can justify.


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