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Two Justice Systems In Black and White

I originally blogged about these cases on Dec. 7, 2013.  Since then, there has been additional information, including the filing of and decision in a civil lawsuit.

Both cases are in the State of Illinois but different counties about 27 miles apart.  When committing the crimes, all defendants in both cases were residents of the City of Rockford.  All defendants were charged with murder under the same state law.

Let me be clear that this post is not about the innocence or guilt of the defendants.  It’s about racism yielding privilege for some and inequalities for others. It’s the type of prejudice that prosecutors might not realize motivates them to make decisions.  It’s the type of politics that call Black defendants “violent offenders” but offers White defendants, charged with the same crime, pleas for lesser offenses and shorter sentences.

In the Black Lives Matter Movement, there is talk about how Blacks and Whites are charged for the same crimes, but Blacks are given longer sentences.  Mostly, people who bring up that issue speak in terms of marijuana possession or misdemeanor crimes.

The cases I present here would not have been misdemeanor crimes even if no party had been killed.

Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/9-1 states in pertinent part:

A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death, he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.”

This law is generally referred to as felony murder.  Simply put, if a person is committing a felony and another person is killed during the commission of that crime, the person or persons committing the crime are charged with murder.  The sentence for felony murder carries a mandatory minimum of 20 years. Read the rest of this entry

Upsetting The Apple Cart

Today is a day of technology and social media.  It keeps news flowing and people informed.  I am grateful for it, but also overwhelmed by it.  We continue seeking justice for Trayvon Martin, Ethan Saylor, Kendrick Johnson, Jonathan Ferrell, Jordan Davis, Marshall Coulter, Marlon Brown.

My fear?  That before I can write on or update what is happening in any of these cases, another person with a disability, or a kid, or with dark skin will be unjustly killed by someone with a badge, or a gun owner who thinks a license to carry is a license to summarily kill, or by an unknown party or parties.

This is a long article.  It is long because I want to answer a question that has been asked of me several times; i.e., why do I blog?  Why do I blog about Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, etc. Read the rest of this entry

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