Bad Laws Create Racism…True or False?
By Garry L. Jones|
On July 16, 2003 I retired from the Department of Justice at the Federal Correctional Institution Tallahassee Florida as a Lieutenant. After retiring I created an organization called advocate4justice. The main focus of the organization was to expose the injustices in our criminal justice system. My travels included speaking at the Congressional Black Caucus Conference, Churches, Schools, Protesting in front of the White House, and going to Capitol Hill having a dialog with Congress about the bias laws that they put in place that are affecting minorities in a negative way. How ironic, things have gotten worse and ten years later we have a stand your ground law that is giving people a license to kill. Currently, my organization acts in the capacity of disseminating information that will help the public.
I have been on this journey all of my life but didn’t know this is what God had planned for me. The country is in an uproar about an unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin being gunned down by George Zimmerman. When you walked the grassroots journey I have been walking, don’t expect accolades because if you do you will be disappointed. When you are an activist you have to do things that you have a passion for and my passion is justice for everyone.
We as Americans, can use Trayvon’s killing as a platform to address a myriad of issues that are plaguing this country such as gun laws, black on black crimes, a weak economy, overcrowded prison system, children starving and now Stand Your Ground Law. Do we need the Stand Your Ground Law or do we need to apply it different? Let us not forget blacks are being jailed five times more than whites for crimes such as mandatory minimum sentencing especially when it comes to crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. The United States have 2.5 million people incarcerated mostly non-violent offenses. We should be just as passionate addressing black on black crime as we are with the Travon Martin movement.
When I flew from Atlanta, Georgia to Orlando, Florida on June 11th; my goal was to protest silently outside of Sanford’s Seminole County Courthouse and attend the Zimmerman trial until it was over with. I started outside the court room with my advocate4justice sign and staged a silent protest in support of Trayvon’s family.
For the first three weeks I was the only one outside of the courtroom. I was told by Sanford law enforcements I had to take the stakes off of my signs. Two days later I was told by Sanford Law Enforcement I would have to leave my chair at the house. I was eating lunch one day in the staging area and one Law Enforcement personnel asked in a condescending way if I needed a fan, but this did not discourage me to give up and leave.
The temperature was very hot and there were times I wanted to leave but I thought about how hot it was when my ancestors were in slavery and how they endured the heat; I am no better than them to be complaining. I was approached by the media several times asking if I felt bad about being the only one outside of the courthouse protesting; I said no, the public hasn’t forgotten about Trayvon. Most people wanted who to come but they had to go to their place of employment where they could pay their bills. While the case was going on, I was able to go in the courtroom twice when I signed up for the lotto and my name was called.
Even though I was very hurt with the decision, it didn’t come as a surprise because of what I’d seen in the courtroom. When the defense had their witnesses on the stand, I noticed that the jury wrote notes, but were nonchalant when the prosecution put their witnesses up. That was the moment I knew George Zimmerman was going to get a not guilty verdict. I said to myself, ‘the jury’s minds are made up and they’re going through the formalities.’ I also heard something in the courtroom that truly stuck with me the thing that stood out to me the most is when the defense asked Trayvon’s mother if she thought her son was responsible for his own death.
The not guilty verdict sparked a nationwide protest. It wasn’t just African Americans protesting, this protest included Whites, Hispanics, Indians, and Asian. Most of the protests have been peaceful even though you had provocateurs in the march; people are overlooking them and keeping focus on the bigger picture. If you can’t be non-violent don’t get in it. Some parents I talked with are protesting for their children and love ones gunned down and nothing has been done about it, not because law enforcement didn’t know who did it, it is because some law enforcement agencies just didn’t care. This has happened in the past, now the present, and hopefully it will stop in the future.
I have always said bad laws and the criminal justice system creates racism. When only a certain race of groups are treated fair and others are not, this causes the people who are treated unfair to mistreat the other people who are treated fair and most of the time racism is born.
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