Dual Justice Systems Exist For Black And White Americans

What took place in Kenosha since the night Kyle Rittenhouse decided to carry an AR 15 into a violent street demonstration killing two, and injuring a third, has produced conversations about gun violence, the pitfalls and costs to society of broken families, the legal problems over a too broadly defined self-defense statute, and the requirement of objectivity from judges.

The past months also produced evidence and dialogue about the dual systems of justice we have in this nation. There is no doubt whatsoever that Black citizens are not treated the same as others in high profile and tragic circumstances.

Rittenhouse, the two men he killed and the man he wounded were all white, but the case has been linked from the start to issues of race and the criminal justice system.

Activists have previously pointed to differences in how police handled Rittenhouse’s case and that of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by a white Kenosha police officer in August 2020, sparking protests in the city that became destructive and violent.

Video footage played during the trial showed Rittenhouse running toward police still wearing his rifle, and continuing past the police line at officers’ direction. He turned himself in to police in Antioch, Illinois, early the following day.

In Georgia, the brutal killing of Ahmaud Arbery has brought forth another clear example of race motivated murder. It is also a showcase of how the justice system can be used to attempt the thwarting of the correct response to a grievous crime. The trial for the three white men accused of the murder has not been short on evidence proving racism has injected itself into the process.

Brunswick, the location of the trial, has a population that is more than half Black. So, it does need to be asked how but only one member of the jury is Black? The news reports of a truly embarrassing white defense attorney rising to repeatedly complain about Black pastors, including Reverend Jesse Jackson (a man I have deeply respected and supported for election) from sitting in on court proceedings was nothing short of galling.

Arbery’s death and the Rittenhouse case have added to the national conversation about racist vigilantism. Both the Kenosha killer and Travis McMichael, the shooter in Georgia, have claimed they acted in self-defense. The tortured reasoning it takes to bend the mind to attempt acceptance of such lunacy is something that our political system will need to address in various state statutes. Allowing leniency for the killing of people one does not like based on the color of their skin or their perceived role in street protests because of strangled legal contortions must be brought under control.

In the Rittenhouse case as soon as he purported the killings to be self-defense it downgraded other vital aspects of the case, such as how a 17-year-old with a deadly gun roamed the streets during a curfew.

On ABC’s This Week the issue of how the Kenosha trial would have been different had the defendant been Black was explored. Byron Pitts, chief national correspondent made the case for why this issue needs to resonate within our country.

Study after study shows that black men are arrested more often, convicted more often, and sentenced to longer sentences than white men accused of the same crime, and the same is — holds true in discipline in schools, that disparity.

And, Martha, heres a study, I think, that speaks to this case and the concerns about this case. According to the FBI, a — a fatal shooting where the shooter is white and the victim is black, three times more likely that’s ruled to be justifiable if both parties were white. And so I think for most reasonable people, and most surveys would bear this out, the few reasonable people would believe that if a 17-year-old black boy with an AR-15 showed up in Kenosha, Wisconsin at night, killed two people and injured a third, then that black boy would have been treated the same way by police or by the legal justice system.

It was noted in the conversation that had Rittenhouse been African-American the verdict would not have been the same, as statistical evidence proves Blacks do not prevail in such court cases. And so that is the injustice that people are looking at…..

It does not take any deep searching to recognize why conservatives and racists agree with the idea of taking the law into one’s own hands. That is the way vigilantes maintained control of Blacks in the South for many decades. White power, and how to maintain it is not a new concept. But misusing the state statutes to further those biases and grudges against Blacks is wholly acceptable. When they do succeed it adds further evidence as to why we can legitimately talk about a two-tier justice system.

And so it goes.

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Ripped Up By Rioters

Very late last night (or early this morning depending how you define time) I was listening to the radio reports of total goonish behavior underway as rioters rampaged in the heart of Chicago.  Hundreds of people swept through the Magnificent Mile and other parts of downtown Chicago smashing windows, looting stores, and confronting police.

This area of the city is one that has long drawn my attention and love. James and I often would take the bus to Ohio Street and its Best Western where we would spend a weekend doing nothing more than walking the entire area and eating.  From what was then Tribune Tower on to Navy Pier and way off to LaSalle Street we would walk and thoroughly enjoy one of this nation’s grand cities.

Having been a listener to Chicago radio since an early teenager has created deep regard for the city.  Being a history buff I have loved to find out more of the famed city.  I am sure not a single one of the rioters last night was aware that 101 years ago the nation’s first aviation disaster–a blimp that catches fire, buckles and crashes into a bank located next to the Board of Trade Building near La Salle Street—had occurred. That was not so far from where the current madness was underway.

I am most certain that the rioters were not privy to the colorful tales of then-Mayor ‘Big’ Bill Thompson, the stunning elections, racial tensions, bombings, union strife, and so much more that took place in the Windy City that July.  What lessons were gained from that time is of no concern to the ones loading up cars with stolen merchandise.

So the news today from the ‘Mag Mile’ is just awful to hear—-and then later when I saw the results of the depraved activity–it just makes me most angry.  And what started the insanity was the inability for some to grasp the actual facts about an earlier shooting.

Sunday afternoon in the Englewood neighborhood there was a 20-year-old man who shot at police while they were pursuing him.   The criminal was taken to the hospital and is expected to survive.  No word on why he thought he should be shooting at the police.  But some on social media purported the shooter was a young teenager.  Social media did not explain how a teenager shooting at police made the situation more swallowable.

What resulted in the rioting is simply maddening. The looting and vandalism are caught on a bevy of cameras showing people streaming in and out of high-end stores, and throwing merchandise into rental trucks and other large vehicles before driving away.  Yes, this is all about social justice!

Reports mounted as the hours continued with people seen breaking large business windows and darting through broken store windows and doors along Michigan Avenue carrying shopping bags full of merchandise. Cars dropped off more people, the videos show, as the crowd grew.

I would be calling out the Illinois National Guard today with orders to stop the chaos.  This must not be allowed to start again tonight in Chicago.

Here is Walgreens on the iconic street.

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And Marcus.

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And Lamborghini store.

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And Telsa.

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And on and on.

Jessie Jackson is correct to blast those who took the criminal actions last night in Chicago.  “This act of pillaging, robbing & looting in Chicago was humiliating, embarrassing &morally wrong. It must not be associated with our quest for social justice and equality.”

There is a difference between those who truly seek remedies through the political process, and that can and does include peaceful marches, from those who trash businesses that make profits and generate tax dollars so to help fund government programs.  Therefore, it is incumbent upon respectable folks who desire to see justice to now call out the ones who created the shameful spectacle on the Magnificent Mile.

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On Eve Of Spring Election Madison Honors Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesse Jackson Pays Tribute With Call To Vote

There was no way not to feel the tug of history Monday night at the Wisconsin State Capitol.  The broad sweep of history was on display and acted as a backdrop to the political events that are unfolding in the state.  

A large crowd had gathered while gray clouds passed overhead spitting some ice pellets.  In spite of the weather it was clear that those assembled  were in a reflective mood.  While collective bargaining rights and hopes for the spring election on Tuesday were very much a topic of discussion, the life of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the dreams not yet realized had also settled over the crowd.

There was no way not to feel the religious spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. as the opening music allowed for a spiritual quality to the evening.  More than one person must have experienced goose bumps as the bagpipes played and the crowd sang “Amazing Grace.”  There are times when ‘the moment’ just moves a crowd, and I think that was the case at the Capitol.  I noticed some wet eyes at times in the crowd around me.

The backdrop to the event was the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The murder of King took place in Memphis on April 4, 1968.  On the balcony of the  Lorraine Hotel that night was Jesse Jackson.  At the same hour King was killed 43 years ago Jackson stood before those assembled  in Madison and solemnly, but earnestly spoke from the heart.  

“Dr. King is alive because he lives in us,” Jackson told the crowd.

King had been in Memphis to stand with the sanitation workers, and so it was touching to have Jackson bring out two of those workers from 1968, and have them stand alongside him. 

The rich background of history weaved an amazing tapestry on the steps of the Capitol.  I have never seen anything quite like that before at the Statehouse.  The past rose up and spoke to the fight we still need to undertake to complete the vision that King laid out for this nation.

I have watched and heard Jackson many, many times since 1988, but this was the most meaningful.  There was no way to look at Jackson and not see the mental images of the news stories from Memphis.  There was no way to hear Jackson call for a better nation, the need for all citizens to exercise their right to vote,  and the need for racial barriers to be lowered and not hear the voice of King.

This was a special night in Madison.  One I hope that deepens our commitment to the shared values of making this city a better place to live, and our state a more fair place for all our workers.

Massive Rally Monday Night In Madison To Honor Martin Luther King, Jr., Energize For Election Day

This will be intense.  (Someone should alert Governor Walker so he can be out of the statehouse…there may be some tough words that might bother him if he sticks around to hear them.)

One of the men on the Memphis balcony on April 4th, 1968, the night Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, was Rev. Jesse Jackson.  Monday night Jackson will be in Madison at the Capitol for a massive event to honor King and his legacy, energize the union members in Wisconsin, and drive up the enthusiasm for Election Day on Tuesday.  Though Jackson has been here many times to speak, it will be especially timely and moving to have Jackson in our city at this time.

There is no doubt that King would have championed the workers in Wisconsin and united with them in the struggle we now experience.  There is no doubt King would have strongly encouraged every voter to cast a ballot in the Spring Election on Tuesday.

Those themes will ring out for the thousands that will join together and honor King Monday evening at the Capitol.

There will be eight different marches that will all wind their way to the Capitol Square.

Starting at 4:30, groups will gather at eight separate locations, based on your membership or interest, and a “feeder march” will begin at each location at 4:50, arrive by all eight streets approaching the Capitol for the rally that follows:

  • CWA & Private Sector Workers & Building Trades Feeder March begins at 316 W. Washington, marching to the Capitol up West Washington.
  • Immigrant Rights Feeder March begins at Monona Terrace, marching to the Capitol up MLK.
  • University Students, Staff and Faculty Feeder March begins at Library Mall, marching to the Capitol up State St.
  • Healthcare Feeder March, including healthcare workers, seniors, Badger Care Recipients, and the disabled begins at the Concourse Hotel, 1 W. Dayton St., marching to the Capitol up Wisconsin Ave.
  • Environmental Protections Feeder March begins at James Madison Park on E. Gorham St., marching to the Capitol up N. Hamilton.
  • Public Safety  & Public Workers & Service Cuts Feeder March begins at the City-County Building, 210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd, marching to the Capitol up S. Hamilton. 
  • K-12 Teachers and Students Feeder March begins at the Wisconsin State Dept. of Education, 125 S. Webster St. marching to the Capitol up King St.
  • Anti-Corporate Feeder begins at the parking lot at E. Washington Ave. & Butler Street, marching to the Capitol up E. Washington.
  • Beginning at 5:00 is the “From Memphis to Madison” Rally, featuring performances by Michelle Shocked and Michael Franti, and speakers will include Rev. Jesse Jackson.

    Jesse Jackson To Speak At Madison High School Tuesday

    This is going to be a magical moment, a powerful moment, for many high school students in Madison.    Jackson has a most remarkable way of connecting and communicating with young people, and inspiring them to look within and aim higher.  I am glad Jackson has been in Madison recently, and look forward to his continuing conversation with union workers.

    The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who spoke at the Capitol on Friday, will be back in Madison to speak at 8 a.m. Tuesday outside Madison East High School, district spokesman Ken Syke said.

    Just before classes start at East High School, Jackson plans to march from First Street and East Mifflin Street to the East parking lot for a rally.

    Then Jackson will speak to East students over the loudspeaker after the school bell rings. The idea is to both inspire and welcome students back, principal Mary Kelley said.

    Jesse Jackson Needs To Shut Up

    I have long respected and admired the work of Jesse Jackson.  I was a supporter of his during the 1980’s when he ran for the Oval Office. and know that his views on the issues of the day were correct then, and are still so today.  He was truly a great leader of the Democratic Party, and a fighter for the issues that impact us all.  Meeting and talking with him on various occasions over the decades never failed to energize me.

    But there comes a time when one crosses the line too far, and makes such an error that it deserves a ‘time out’.  Jesse Jackson crossed the line, and then some, when suggesting that Barack Obama be made, (how can I say this nicely) lighter in the pants.  For a Reverend to make such a comment……for a major Democratic operative to say such a thing…..well, it is time for Jesse Jackson to sit this election cycle out.

    The issue stems from Barack Obama not playing the African-American issue the way that Jackson would like.  Obama suggested in a speech that black kids should stay in school, and black parents take responsibility for their children.  That is not a comment that should draw the ire of Jackson.  Sure there are economic causes that create deep strife and disadvantage in the African-American community.  But Barack Obama was not suggesting that other influences were not in part responsible for the troubles that plague African-Americans.  We all know they exist.  Instead, Obama  was merely making some common sense statements.

    Jesse Jackson has well served his party.  And still can.  But this time he needs to serve it by shutting up.

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    Jesse Jackson Speaks With Passion In Madison At The Capital Times Birthday Party

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    “Bush and I have one thing in common, and that is that we both came in second.” 

    The laughter that filled the room at the Monona Terrace in Madison following that comment by the Reverend Jesse Jackson Wednesday night had a bittersweet sound as many in the crowd knew in their hearts that the country would have been well served by having him in the Oval Office.  Jackson joined about 300 attendees to celebrate the 90th birthday of Madison’s progressive afternoon newspaper, The Capital Times.  John Nichols, the associate editor of the paper, held an insightful and illuminating conversation with the civil rights activist, and two time presidential candidate that lasted about an hour.

    In the conversation Jackson presented his experiences as a template (my word, not his) for how others could not only run campaigns, but also run the country once elected.  And with 20 years for us to reflect on his efforts in 1984 and 1988 to be President, we must admit he presents powerful arguments for his style of campaigning,  and the issues he fought for.

    The struggles with the power centers within the Democratic Party have frustrated Jackson for many years.  While working to elect an African-American mayor in Chicago he was told by the likes of Senators Ted Kennedy and Walter Mondale that they both needed to “support their allies”, meaning they would work for the entrenched Chicago machine candidate.  When Jackson heard the “allies” comment he asked them, “Well who are we?” meaning the black voters that had supported the Democratic Party for decades.  Years later Jackson would spar with the centrist and mushy Democratic Leadership Council, which was an organization hoping to stem the liberal tendencies of the Democratic Party.

    But through it all Jackson understands that counter-culture politics is the force that keeps the nation moving in a progressive direction.  Whether it was striving for union rights, civil rights, or health care rights for AIDS patients, the counter-culture politics that he marshalled is the path that he wishes more politicians would embrace.

    John Nichols started his introduction for Jackson on Wednesday by describing him as “the most successful diplomat”, and the record of Jackson’s achievements, along with his thoughtful views over the decades, prove Nichols to be correct.

    When asked to sum up his diplomatic approach Jackson said, “I tried, I talked, I asked.”  The audience understood what he meant.   As Jackson spoke of his overseas work the crowd nodded in agreement, and when he mentioned Ronald Reagan and the American flier held captive in Syria in 1983 there was laughter.

    Robert Goodman, a Navy flier was being held by President Assad, and Jackson asked President Reagan if he could travel to Syria to seek his release.  Reagan told Jackson not to go, but just in case Jackson did go and succeeded, Reagan wanted to make sure Jackson brought Goodman back to the White House for pictures!  Jackson used the diplomatic approach he had long advocated; he tried, talked, and asked.  In the end a very pleased President Reagan met Goodman at the White House.  And as a side note I think we all recall that Jackson looked mighty good on the White House grounds too!

    Jackson observed during the conversation with Nichols that American foreign policy is often one of contempt, and not respect for others in the international arena.  He urged more discussion among nations, and a deeper appreciation on our part for the rampant poverty that impacts so many around the world. 

    When asked about the current presidential contest underway in America he had one blunt criticism for Mike Huckabee, the former Governor of Arkansas.  Jackson said that it was wrong for Huckabee to attempt to force Mitt Romney to take a religious test.  “It is the most unfair part of Huckabee’s campaign.”  He then reminded the crowd that most lynchings in the south took place after Church on Sunday’s, and the ones doing it “were not Mormons.”

    Wednesday evening as I listened to Jesse Jackson I recalled how during the 1988 presidential election I wore his campaign button on my jacket.  I had been a supporter of Jackson in 1984, but was not able to campaign and work in his behalf to the degree I had wished.  But in 1988 I was living in Madison, and had more opportunities to help make a difference.  At the time I was working with a State Representative from northeast Wisconsin who was more conservative that I was.  While with him in the district one day he asked me what his constituents might think about me wearing my Jackson button.  I told him that I hoped the voters might ask about Jackson so I could tell them of the message he offered for America.  This seemed to make the Representative mighty nervous, as he knew I was serious.  He never talked about the button again, though I knew he thought it might harm him among some conservatives.

    Now these many years later as I listened to Jesse Jackson speak I am again reminded of how much better off we would all be had he been our President.  “Run, Jesse, Run” was more than a slogan in the 1980’s.  If was a real piece of hope in American politics.  Wednesday night for an hour some of us recalled what hope felt like again.

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    Reverend Jesse Jackson And Cedrick King

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    Every now and then I meet someone who truly impresses me.  As my readers know a curious mind, and an appreciation of history are sure-fire ways to get my attention.  Tonight Cedrick King, a seventh grader from Milton, Wisconsin did just that very thing.  He was seated behind me during an event in Madison celebrating the 90th birthday of the Capital Times, the progressive afternoon newspaper.   The main draw for the celebration was the Reverend Jesse Jackson, who had a wonderful conversation conducted by John Nichols in front of the 300 attendees.

    Cedrick had mentioned to me before the event started that he had studied Martin Luther King, Jr. in history class, and was interested in Jesse Jackson due to the two civil rights activists being together on the fateful day in April 1968.  He was truly happy to be at the event.  As one of the younger faces in the crowd, his interest was wonderful to see. 

    As the event concluded I placed my hand on Cedrick’s shoulder and guided him up to the stage where Nichols then helped him up to stand next to Jackson.  Soon Cedrick was shaking hands with an amazing man, and a truly remarkable politician.

    And Jesse Jackson was shaking hands with an interesting young man.

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