Sunday, March 14, 2004

Treat all accused of crimes equally

Kenneth L. Lawson
Guest columnist

In response to the editorial "Gunmen shoot to kill police" (March 10), the writer missed one important point. You claim, and you are correct, that when cops are shot at you don't see any groups marching on City Hall, etc., demanding an end to this violence. We do demand an end to this violence as well as all other forms of violence.

However, the reason why many in the African-American community get angry when officers, without just reason or just cause, kill unarmed black men is because the officers are rarely brought to justice. In the cases where individuals shoot at police, each person is brought to justice and charged with the most serious crimes available under the law. They are then sentenced to the maximum time allowed under the laws. Yet, when officers do not follow the procedures used to avoid death by positional affixation we are told that their actions are justified. We see no justice; we just hear excuses indicating our concerns and cries for justice are without merit. We watch some officers get away with murder, so many blacks and whites protest the injustice, which at times is blatant. There are some cases that are justifiable homicides. There are a number that are not. How is this issue resolved?

If officers who commit crimes were brought to justice like the young men who shoot at them, then you would not see any protest or marches on City Hall.

When officers like Stephen Roach, who lied several times in the investigation, are only charged with negligent homicide, then you see the community rise up and demand justice. The officer should be treated like anyone else. When we see how Lt. Col. Ron Twitty's case was aggressively pursued but Officer Robert "Blaine" Jorg does not get a retrial then perhaps you will begin to understand that what we seek is equal treatment and justice for all people regardless of the color of their skin or the color of their uniforms.

If more people would listen to all sides and not just blow off the cries for justice as being brought by a group of fanatics, and instead understand that the cries for justice are brought by people who believe that their perceptions and reality are continuously belittled by The Enquirer, prosecutors and law enforcement. The attitude is one where those in power dismiss our concerns as being without merit and not worthy of redress. Until this attitude ends and there is equal treatment for all those who commit crimes, you will continue to see protest, marches and division in a city with people who have more in common with one another than we all realize.


Kenneth L. Lawson is an attorney.

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