Sol Wachtler (former chief judge of New York) believed the grand jury system should be abolished. He famously said: “prosecutors have so much control over grand juries that they could convince them to indict a ham sandwich.” Or not. A grand jury in Missouri decided to authorize no indictments against a white policeman in the killing of Michael Brown.Way back in 1857 the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court wrote this in the case of Dred Scott, an American slave who sued for his freedom:
all blacks as “beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.“
More recently… The southern state of Florida has a law known as “stand your ground”, which legally inoculates people defending themselves against possible violence. Marissa Alexander (a black woman) invoked that law in her defense, when she fired a shot into the air to warn off her abusive husband and his two sons. Her jury deliberated 12 minutes. She was convicted and sentenced to 20 years. Her conviction was overturned and charges were re-filed. In the face of a possible 60-year prison sentence, she took a plea deal of 3 years. Also in Florida, George Zimmerman (a white man) was found not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin.There are fires and looting in Ferguson, Missouri. There is outrage America. Will we be more outraged over property crimes, or about the pattern of injustice in America? The words of Martin Luther King Jr. are wise:
Riots are the voices of the unheard.
I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.