When Justice Is Broken
Author: Ephraim Boamah
Posted October 13th, 2020
A fourteen-year-old boy visited his family in Mississippi. Unaware of the South’s racism, the Chicago native lost his life at the hands of the two white men, Roy Bryant accused him of harassing his wife. With his friend Milam, Roy attacked the boy. Brutally, they beat the young African-American and dragged him to the Bank of the Tallahatchie River. They shot him. His mutilated body was tied to a fan and left to drown. Nine days after his death, his body lay in an open casket. His corpse was unrecognizable. Emmet Till was not the first Black person to die at the hands of a White man, and he will not be the last.
As the nation awaited the trial of Roy and J.W. Milam, Black people everywhere doubted the United States’ Justice System’s ability to hold the White men accountable. The jury acquitted the men in the face of conclusive evidence of guilt.
Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were not the first White men to be protected by the law nor the last.
On March 13th, 2020, a young couple slept in their bed in the middle of the night. Suddenly, they heard an intruder in their home. A legal gun owner, Kenneth Walker fired his gun. In response, multiple shots were fired into their apartment. Eight of the bullets hit Breonna Taylor. She struggled to breathe.
They shot her. They killed her.
However, the "intruders" were police officers who had acquired a no-knock warrant to raid Breonna’s apartment in search of evidence of drugs. When her boyfriend fired his gun, he shot former Sergeant Mattingly in the thigh. As such, the officers rained bullets into Breonna Taylor's apartment. In a standard procedure, an ambulance is present, but the officers had sent it off earlier. To them, Breonna Taylor’s life did not matter. Outrage erupted across the country as the officers failed to locate the drugs in her apartment after an investigation.
The “Say Her Name” movement began on social media platforms as some mourned for the soul of Breonna Taylor.
Sixty - five years after the jury acquitted murderers of Emmet Till, the pattern repeated itself. Breonna Taylor’s murderers were acquitted, this time members of the law enforcement. Daniel Cameron, the attorney general, presented contradictory statements with the publicly known details of Breonna Taylor’s case. The system that failed to serve justice to Emmet Till and his family in Mississippi also failed Breonna Taylor and her family in Louisville.
How can this be?
The United States’ Justice System has always devalued the worth and life of Black people in this country especially, Black women. Breonna Taylor’s case struggled to gain attention as the public focused on George Flloyd, a black man killed by a former police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on his neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds. Since 2015, only two cases involving the death of Black women have been charged out of forty-eight. The country watches as the justice system allows the slaughter Black women because, as Malcolm X said: “ The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
Such treatment of Black people, in general, is ingrained in America’s history through the initiation and introduction the of Black Codes, laws made to control Black People, and restrict their movement. In the early 1700s, slave patrol became the first form of policing in America. White volunteers used vigilante tactics and terror to deter slaves from rebelling. Silence from authorities validated the lynchings of Black people in the South during the era of Jim Crow Laws. The use of force and police brutality became more evident during the Civil Rights Movement. As Black people moved up North, the police received them with hostility. However, some Americans continue to demonstrate great admiration for a system built to terrorize and kill a portion of its citizens without consequences. They are met with the utmost respect and approval as they funnel excess military equipment at a fraction of the cost, to suppress protests of the
Black Lives Matter Movement.
The death of Emmet Till, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd are all the result of a justice system established in favor of White people over people of color.
The soul of America is broken.
The foundation upon what is right and wrong is broken. The issue of justice is, “bigger than Breonna, it’s bigger than just Black Lives… ‘We’ve got to figure out how to fix the city, how to heal from here.”- Tamika Palmer.