Dead men tell no tales and grand jury proceedings are secret — except in the case of the St. Louis County grand jury.
Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced the foregone decision Monday night about the fatal confrontation between Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson and the young man he shot to death, Michael Brown, supposedly in self defense. (I learned about the grand jury’s decision on Twitter before McCulloch even opened his mouth.)
The media already had access to the reams of evidence that the grand jury considered. After spending several months listening to 70 hours of testimony and viewing volumes of other information, the panel of nine white and three black members came to the only logical conclusion based on the facts without judicial guidance or a real prosecutor: they could find no reason to indict Officer Wilson of any crime in shooting the 18-year-old Brown.
The carefully-orchestrated release of the information, even McCulloch’s unusual night-time press conference, was the way criminal justice powers that be in St. Louis chose to tell the world, “There’s nothing to the claims of a racially-motivated, extrajudicial killing here, people, so let’s move along.”
But people are not getting over it. Nor is life moving along as usual. The smoldering embers of charred police cars and buildings in Ferguson, the thousands of people across the country who flooded the streets over the grand jury’s no-bill are the exasperated outpouring of rage and grief over the handling of the Wilson-Brown case and, by extension, every other case involving police officers who’re killing unarmed black and brown civilians, seemingly without any accountability.
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Nelson Mandela is buried, an exemplary life well-lived and rewarded with worldwide accolades that I have never seen or heard about in my life.
When even Newt Gingrich bit back at his own rabid conservative base, who criticized him for praising a “communist” rebel who tried to overthrow his government, you know something had to be great about Mandela. His defense of the great freedom fighter made me realize just how powerful a symbol Mandela was for humanity. Continue reading →
Fifty years ago today, Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech, the last one delivered on August 28, 1963, the day more than a quarter million supporters of civil rights converged in the nation’s capital for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Alas, I did not get to D.C. for the 50th year commemorative events. Instead, I lived vicariously through the stories of friends who did. I enjoyed news accounts of those who returned 50 years later to marvel at far the country has come since the historic march, and how much further we have to go to realize the powerful words in Dr. King’s speech. Continue reading →
Since George Zimmerman’s acquittal on all charges stemming from his fatal confrontation with unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin last year, Black American parents are holding their sons particularly tight. Continue reading →
Martin Luther King, Jr. began writing his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” 50 years ago today. He wrote it as he sat in the city’s jail, arrested on Good Friday – April 12, 1963 – during one of the street protests and boycotts that his national Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth’s Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights (an SCLC affiliate) organized to actively oppose racial segregation and its evils.
Locked in solitary confinement, the good reverend doctor had a lot of time on his hands. His aides brought him a newspaper, where he read an article by eight white clergymen of Christian and Jewish faiths. The Birmingham ministers criticized the Movement’s mayhem in the city, calling on King to stop the “untimely” protests.
The letter he wrote in response – scribbled around the edges of newspaper and on toilet tissue, then later transcribed by his aides into a formal document — is considered one of the most brilliant piece of protest literature. It powerfully and clearly demonstrates Dr. King’s intellectual discipline and moral authority on the issue of racial injustice. His famous “Letter” is read and studied around the world. Continue reading →
On this day in 1963, the Birmingham Campaign, “Project C,” officially began. What happened here over the course of six weeks literally changed the world.
Rev. Wyatt T. Walker, executive director of the Southern Leadership Conference under Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said the first day of direct non-violent action was aimed at the heart of Birmingham’s economy.
So the first groups of demonstrators headed for the segregated lunch counters at Woolworth’s, Loveman’s, Pizitz, Kress and Britt’s, all located on 19th Street North. Instead of serving their African American customers, the managers closed the counters for the day. Continue reading →