’ I am much more tired of the continuing injustices of young black men dying’


You may have missed the Pew poll released last week which revealed that a majority of Republicans feel there has been too much coverage of the Trayvon Martin case. Melissa offered a fierce retort today, citing the recent sentencing of five New Orleans cops for a bridge shooting shortly after Hurricane Katrina as an example of how the arc of justice can be very long, indeed:

It took several years to get any semblance of  justice done in the Katrina shooting case; how long might this go on? Well, as Dr. Martin Luther King said in 1965 when he echoed the 19th-century abolitionist minister Theodore Parker: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” The key word in this instance? “Long.”

So those of you tiring of the story, I’m sorry, but here in Nerdland are going to continue to cover it. I know some of you may be tired of Trayvon’s story. But I am much more tired of the continuing injustices of young black men dying. And until I see some movement toward justice I ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around.

I recommend the article which Melissa referenced at the top of the essay, Philadelphia City Paper reporter Daniel Denvir’s “The Elusiveness of Police Accountability,” published last week in the Atlantic magazine’s Cities site. The excerpt which Melissa cited is after the jump.

Martin’s killing was ghastly, but police harassment and excessive force against black Americans is far more common than anything carried out by civilian vigilantes. On March 24, Pasadena police shot unarmed and black 19-year old Kendrec McDade to death. A man had called 911 and said that his backpack was stolen at gunpoint - though he later confessed to lying about the gun.

Indeed, what seems so offensive about Martin’s killing is that Zimmerman appears to have decided to anoint himself with police powers and then abused it, with after-the-fact police sanction.

To many, the Martin killing - like the 2010 beating of a homeless man by a Sanford, Florida, police lieutenant’s son who was also not initially arrested - feels like some nightmarish resurrection of the alliance between the Klan and law enforcement that once terrorized blacks throughout the South. Thus the comparisons to the 1955 Mississippi murder of Emmett Till. But the parallels most often drawn in recent weeks have been to police harassment and violence.

It takes a remarkable degree of excess - like the 41 shots the NYPD fired at the wallet-wielding Guinean immigrant Amadou Diallo in 1999 (all officers were acquitted), or Rodney King’s brutal and videotaped beating in 1991 - to spark widespread public anger. Even then, such spectacularly excessive force does not guarantee a widespread public response - or, ultimately, justice.

' I am much more tired of the continuing injustices of young black men dying'