Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Martin Luther King Jr. was credited for this quote and it is used consistently even in 2013. But often it is a cliché more than marching orders to address the reality we face not in 1960’s but today’s America and world.
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We talk about justice for Trayvon, for the families affected by the mass gun violence of suburban America, and the consistent gun violence in urban America. I talked to you last week about seeking justice for Ernest Hoskins Jr. who was shot at point-blank rage by his boss, who is now only being charged with Manslaughter. Even I talked to his widow and mother this weekend and they need you to sign the petition at Change.org to push Arkansas Gov. Beebe to challenge the special prosecutor to charge him with first-degree murder.
There was a couple in Cleveland that was allegedly high on drugs, led the police in a high-speed chase which ended in the police letting off over 130 rounds into the car of two people who were unarmed. Justice is as important to protect police officers doing their job the right way, as it is to protect citizens. Even those on drugs.
But there is a caveat here. We will jump on the bandwagon for a few months to be outraged about loss of life (and we should, while turning moments into movements), but what about the people dealing with injustice daily who have not been shot or improperly sentenced for years.
For example. Craig Huffman, who most of you don’t know helped to get President Obama elected to the State Senate in IL. In December 2011 after a hostess at Tavern on Rush alleged that an African-American man had groped her, and Huffman was chosen in a photo lineup. The suit claims that police pursued Huffman, who was at the restaurant that night, after taking his name from the reservation list, and included his photo in a lineup even though he did not meet the hostess’ description. In typical fashion the hostess said the man was a black, 5 feet 7, bald and heavyset.
Huffman is over 6 feet, not bald, and fit. Well at least they got the black part right. What happened next is the most damaging. As a result of faulty police work, Craig was tracked down by the fugitive capture squad at his place of business, arrested on the spot, charged and arrested. Had he not possessed the means to hire qualified counsel perhaps the judge would not have essentially thrown out the case due to lack of evidence.
Craig has since filled a suit against the city and Tavern on Rush restaurant. But what about his reputation or the lost revenue in a conservative financial services industry where clients are not interested in being represented by a “black criminal”. But with all that, some told him to just be happy that he was not in jail and that the charges had been dropped. No white businessman I know would be told that. Real justice is about getting back your good name, not acting like charges that you never committed being dropped is a favor.
How many Craig Huffman’s do you know who have not received justice; or only the justice people of color and poor people should be satisfied with? Please don’t let the small cases of injustice where no one has died or been forced to serve unwarranted time behind bars be the only fights we rally behind. I need you to do these three things:
1. Help those you know get the best legal counsel and representation they can.
2. Rally LOCAL support to show up at all proceedings. Your church, fraternity/sorority, family and the press can make more of a difference than you know. It is harder for the system to run over a group of us, but very easy to roll over those they believe are alone.
3. Don’t allow ANYONE to tell you the law. Learn it, know it, and share it.
Injustice is a sickness. King was very clear in stating that any sickness threatens those who are well. The baby with a common cold and infect an entire family. Beloved….the smallest injustice threatens the justice for all of us. Fight the small battles so that the enemy will be afraid to wage large wars.
I’m Jeff Johnson….and that’s my Truth.