Paul R. Lehman, The jury’s not guilty verdict of the Philando Castile case sent a message to America

June 20, 2017 at 4:39 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, Christianity, Civil Rights Ats, Declaration of Independence, Disrespect, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, justice, law, law enforcement agencies, Minnesota, political pressure, Prejudice, protest, Race in America, whites | Leave a comment
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With the jury’s finding of not guilty for the officer who killed Philando Castile comes the implied, but a blatant statement from law enforcement that the justice system overwhelmingly favors their agents—the police. The ruling says that in spite of you forcing us to use dash cams, body cams, and surveillance cams, you, the people, cannot prevail over us because justice is what we say it is. Most people of sound mind can usually tell right from wrong, but somehow lawyers, prosecutors, judges, district attorneys and others in the justice system cannot when a member of law enforcement is involved. We the people cannot continue to allow this miscarriage of justice to take place and assume that all is right with the world because it is not. So, what can the people do to replace his misguided system?

Although a disproportionate number of police victims have been people of color, the corruption is not exclusive to people of color, so, all people who want justice to serve everyone should be concerned and involved in bringing about a system that serves everyone. We know that many people are angry and concerned about the lack of justice simply by looking at the makeup of the protesters. While the protests serve a purpose in bringing the problems to public awareness, it should also serve as an opportunity to organize groups to study and develop plans of actions directed at replacing the system. Nothing will happen to replace the system if the people do not get involved and execute specific plans of actions.  Also, change will not happen overnight.

The first order of business is to organize and develop a plan of approach to addressing the problem. The need for this process is important because it saves time and energy. For example, developing a plan to replace the chief of police, if effective, might bring about some relief, but would not solve the problem because the chief is simply one part of the total organization. Any plan to be effective must understand the system and its organizational structure in order to replace it completely. Some of the tools available to the people include political power—finding suitable candidates for the various offices and supporting them to victory; political pressure—the people putting pressure on current politicians to introduce legislation written to address many of the current problems in the justice system; the law—suing the city, police, Fraternal Order of the Police for as much money as possible so they get the message that injustice also comes with a price. Whatever approach taken must involve all concerned citizens, not just the vocal ones, and it must start at the local level.

We have heard all the excuses offered by law enforcement to justify their actions; excuses like “I felt threatened,” or “I felt my life was in danger,” or “I thought he was going for his gun,” or “I was afraid for my life.” All of these excuses and others have been offered as reasons for using deadly force, and yet, in spite of their fears and feelings of trepidations, many of these officers remain on the force. If they are in a state of constant fear or insecure feelings, they should not be in law enforcement. How can they “serve and protect” when they are under constant stress?

In addition to the individual excuses we hear the all too often references to the “bad apples” in the department or the “need for more training,” or “the need for more officers,” or “our lives are on the line every day.” While all those reasons might be valid in some cases, none of the excuses explains why departments do not do a better job of vetting future officers or explain why some officers think it is fine to knowingly use excessive force, or officers using common sense and a degree of patience before resorting to deadly force, or spend more time educating departments and officers on the meaning of all people living in a diverse society rather than training in military combat tactics. Enough with all the excuses; ways and actions speak louder than words ever will.

We, the people, are tired of the unjust actions of the criminal justice system and its agents as well as the over-used excuses to try to justify and maintain the system. We are not trying to appeal to a sense of Christian fellowship or valuing our common humanity or democratic principles when we protest and ask for fairness for ourselves and fellow citizens, but to human decency and to a simple attempt to know the difference between right and wrong, and to seek to do what is right.

We should not take lightly the necessity for change in the system of justice as it continues to wreak havoc on the lives of people of color in general and show disregard for the rights of many of its citizens. To seek a replacement of the unjust system is not a suggestion, but a responsibility as noted in the Declaration of Independence: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” The founding fathers believed that replacing a corrupt and abusive system was not simply a choice but a “duty” of the people. The focus is not replacing the government, but the abusive system. We should not look to violence as part of a remedy for injustices, but the legal tools that are available and most of all, the people.

Change and replacement of the criminal justice system will not come easy or quickly because of the long years of its entrenchment, but it must come. Any plan for replacement must begin at the local level and involve as many people possible—strength in numbers. People wanting to join in the effort should look for groups and/or organizations already active in the process. Joining efforts with other individuals and organizations does not mean one has to agree with everything the group or organization represents but agreeing on replacing the justice system should be the primary focus.


Paul R. Lehman, Teens hunt, beat, and kill an African American for fun

August 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, American Racism, Bigotry in America, Ethnicity in America, Media and Race, Race in America | 6 Comments
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A disturbing news story out of Jackson, Mississippi, carried
on CNN this past week was about some European American teens who deliberately
hunted down an African American man, beat and killed him. According to the
story, the victim “James Craig Anderson, a 49-year-old auto plant worker, was
standing in a parking lot, near his car. The teens allegedly beat Anderson
repeatedly, yelled racial epithets, including ‘White Power’ according to
witnesses.”The real tragedy of this story is the fact that America does not
find it appalling. This story does not represent one tragedy, the beating and
murder of Anderson, but three tragedies when we add in the fate of the teens
and the complicity of society.

How long will it take for an African American or any person
of color to believe he or she can safely enjoy the freedoms and liberties
guaranteed by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution? Mr.
Anderson evidently thought he had the right to be where he was, doing what he
wanted, and observing the law in doing so. He committed no crime, caused no
conflict or created no disturbance before he was attacked, beaten and killed. America
has laws that address the rights and privileges of its citizens as well as people
to enforce the laws. Unfortunately, some people believe they are above the laws
or can ignore them when the objectives of their irrational beliefs can be
hunted down and killed. A man has been deprived of his life, liberties, and
freedom because of the fear his skin complexion caused in the minds of some
European American teens. Robert Shuler Smith, District Attorney for Hinds
County, where the crime occurred, was “asked if there could be any doubt
whether the intent was to actually hurt and kill a black person, Smith
responded: ‘No doubt about it. They were going out to look for a black victim
to assault, and in this case, even kill’.”What a tragedy for Anderson.

Anderson was in fact not the cause or the reason for his
tragic death; the cause was the fear, guilt, and anger the teens felt within
them that needed an outlet. For them, that outlet was an African American
person. The officials called the crime a “hate crime” since the specific target
was an African American. The hate was inside the European American teens who
seemingly felt a sense of loss of their power and privilege. The fact that they
yelled “White Power” suggests a cry for help in that they were feeling a sense
of loss and needed to fight to protect themselves from that loss. In essence,
they evidently believed that African Americans represented the taking away
their power of privilege and prestige, so they felt compelled to defend it.

Some European American teens, like their adult counterparts,
have not accepted the precepts of democracy where in a diverse society each
citizen has the same rights. They instead want to hold on to the false belief
that America is a European American country exclusively, and any non-European
American living here is a threat to their rightful ownership and rule. Their
hurt comes from the fact that they are losing their ‘white identity,’ which is
the only thing of value they have. If they lose their sense of superiority of
having a white identity, then they would be just like all the other ethnic
Americans in society, and that to them would be a tragedy. The real tragedy is
that they still have not entered into the 21st Century as far as
their thinking and perceptions are concerned. The cry of “White Power” for them
is defining and confining; they are seemingly trapped in an outdated mindset
that leads only to trouble for them, society, and the people they hold
responsible for their hurt.

Society shares a great deal of responsibility for the acts
and thinking of the teens regarding this crime. Why has there not been more
vocal effort in dispelling the myths and fallacies of race by color? Too many
Americans today believe that a so-called black race and white race exist. The
fact is that neither exists. They were created by a bigoted society for social
and economic reasons. Through the years many efforts have been made, along with
laws passed, to address and to try to correct the problem of bigotry. For teens
today to yell “White Power” indicates that society has not done its job in
educating its youth about the principles of democracy and life in a diverse
society. What kind of society lets teens feel comfortable in going out to hunt
for another human being to hurt and subsequently kill simply because of the
color of  his skin? Where do teens get
the idea that they have the right and power to take another person’s life just
because of his skin color? Instead of society being so concerned about teens doing
drugs and driving drunk, equal attention should be given to their sense of
value and respect for other human beings, especially, non-European Americans.

Historically, in America the concept of a so-called white
race has never been publically debunked for the obvious reasons of privilege
and power. Scientifically, the concept of the existence of multiple races of
human beings has been exposed as false for many years. Nonetheless, society
continues to ignore the science and continue the practice of calling some
people black and others white. In essence, using color as a form of ethnic
identity. The problem with that belief is it is inaccurate and confusing
because a dark skin or a fair skin represents no hint of ethnic identity. In
addition, skin complexion is no indicator of intelligence. If America does not
begin to address the problem of ethnic bigotry at the grassroots level and
above, the occurrence of tragedies like the one in question will continue. Some
might call this murder an isolated incident, but the lack of respect for other
human being regardless of how they look does not grow in an isolated
environment, it is as dangerous as a deadly, contagious disease. If America
does not make concerted efforts to correct this problem through education now,
then when will it? Tomorrow never comes.

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