On December 7 the Philadelphia Inquirer posted an opinion piece by the founder of JustLeadershipUSA, Glenn Martin, who offered his view that now is the time for people to come together and project our “collective outrage” of America’s deeply troubled criminal justice system into “collective empathy and organization.”
Although America is going through yet another period of racial unrest brought on by the numerous killings of black men and youths by police officers, Martin believes this turmoil can evolve into a new justice system that creates the needed changes Americans have talked about for so long but have failed to act upon.
The result may be lawful, but we need to stop calling it just
By Glenn E. Martin
The public display of anger has been piercing in the aftermath of a grand jury's decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the public execution of 18-year-old Michael Brown.
While many attempt to portray the anger as directionless, amid the justified outrage rests tremendous opportunity. For starters, exposing the prejudice that pervades our system of law and order disrupts a fundamental American belief: that our judicial system is, at its core, an inherently fair and unbiased institution. It may be flawed, Americans are taught, but it is virtuous.
Yet every execution of one of our most vulnerable, and the subsequent refusal to hold accountable those responsible, exposes the belief for the myth that it is.
But laying bare the myth is only a partial solution. In fact, a flurry of partial and reactionary solutions has followed the recent scourge of unaccountable police brutality. They range from the adoption of police body cameras, to demilitarizing police departments, to electing civilian police accountability councils.
It's certainly important to accomplish what you can when there is a moment of political opportunity, but we must also accept the limitations of those proposals. Body cameras may discourage some instances of gross police misconduct, but let's not forget that Eric Garner's July execution in New York City was captured on video. Ensuring that the police aren't armed for military occupation will reduce the frequency of deaths by firing squad, but it was a Taser that extinguished the life of Dominique Franklin Jr. in Chicago earlier this year.
Our partial solutions may stem the tide of state terror, but they are as irresponsible as they are incremental.