Response to Non-convictions in the Philando Castile and Sam Dubose
I think it would be remiss for the Green Party not to address recent non-convictions in the cases of Philando Castile and Sam Dubose this past week. It is quite evident, in my opinion, the tainted complexities of our democracy. The corruption of police or policing is only a symptom as is our current administration. With that being said, the harsh reality is more police will be acquitted. It is apparent that democracy only serves and protects certain groups and classes of people.
The prosecution of policemen seems to be hindered by the very laws that are supposed to protect ALL citizens. There are major institutional, social and legal impediments to law enforcement being held accountable for the crimes they commit. It is a very complicated and sophisticated task. The difficulty seems to be intentional. So must our pushback. But before we can resist we must find ourselves out of this labyrinth of defeat.
That cycle is heightened with every case of unarmed black men and women being gunned down. Policemen are getting slaps on the wrist if that. What is the hindrance? Policing? Race and law? Class? It’s all and more. It’s systemic and bad policies. There are so many layers to this we can’t just look at one thing. There are so many issues that must be unpacked and overturned. Re-examining cases such as Tennessee v Garner (1985). Basically, this case implemented into law the ability for policemen to kill any fleeing suspect regardless of the potential risks. It did state that the use of force has to be reasonable. It seems fair, but it isn’t because it’s ambiguous and broadly written. In addition, Graham vs. Connor (1989) ruled the legality of every law enforcement use-of-force incident. All of this is coupled with more vagueness of Law enforcement fearing for their lives and making reasonable decisions. In writing police reports regarding incidents of force and or fatality they must include these ”Graham factors.” Policemen have layered due process and protection. For the average citizen it leaves them targeted and victimized by these policies. Unfortunately, we must add that at least 14 states have in place Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (LEBOR). This is the most arrogant of protections for officers as it even makes sure that during investigation it protects them from being tired and worn.
We can sum these layers up by pointing out the increase of paramilitary style police. This alone with judicial rulings gives policemen a lot of power. Next, policemen are often investigated by their friends or other officers. There is no independent scrutiny. Jurors aren’t asked to see if the actions taken on citizens are “right” but rather reasonable.
There are so many bad policies that have led to this trajectory. So many outdated cases that should not be precedent. Unfair due process that strips innocent people of humanity.
What can we as a Green Party Movement do to eradicate? How do we unpack and overturn these laws? What must we do as Greens to engage in a civic matter to counter? Almost daily someone is being murdered by the police and they are getting acquitted. How do we keep silent and allow Mothers to keep burying their sons and daughters? How long do we keep protecting (with bad legislation) those who have taken an oath to protect us? I do not have an immediate answer but I know that we must rise and take action. We can’t afford to be neutral or quiet. Where do we begin?
By Robin Harris
spokesperson for the Green Party of Florida