We go where others, writers of less ability and courage, fear to tread. You, loyal readers, expect no less.
The increase of charges against Derek Chauvin, and the announcement of charges against three other former officers- Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and Andrew Kueng, has the potential to turn this case into a national lynching. And we know exactly the sensitivity that term evokes in African Americans. We use it for a reason. First, we choose our words carefully (except the other day when we said the criminal court was closed and it wasn't. Our mistake for the year). The case has the potential to turn into a national lynching. It is not one yet.
Lynching denotes the illegal killing of a human being based on his or her race with little regard to their innocence or proportionality to the crime. Black men in the south were lynched for as little as supposedly leering at a white woman. It was a mob mentality. Mob rule. Mob punishment. Mobs demanding immediate justice for a perceived crime- due process be damned. Anything ringing a bell?
Four men are going to be prosecuted, three ostensibly because mobs are demanding it. After a week of rioting, billions in damage, a country torn asunder, can anyone have faith in the decision of a prosecutor to bring charges against the three police officers who did not touch George Lloyd? Maybe they are culpable. Maybe they are not. But charges are being brought because the mob demands it, and this is not acceptable. Ever.
As to Chauvin, Minesotta Attorney General Keith Ellison has announced his office is increasing the charges filed by the local prosecuor to second degree murder. When has that ever occurred before? Sound like mob rule to us.
We are do ourselves as a nation no favours by giving into the passions, prejudices, anger and resentment exhibited by the protestors. In America, two wrongs do not make a right. There are more than a hundred years of law enforcement brutality against people of colour without justice being done. Police shoot and kill people of colour and get away with it. Black parents have to tell their children, especially their sons, how to handle themseleves when in a car pulled over by the police, because they have a very real fear their child will be beaten or murdered. You do not need us to recount the abuses of a century and more of racism.
We are speaking about the operation of the criminal justice system.
What jury in this country will not have heard of this case? What jury will not feel the pressure to convict? Can you imagine the fear of mob reprisals if a jury acquits one of the officers ? Must these men be sacrificed for a system they did not create and for crimes in the past they did not commit?
In this country Jews defend Nazi war criminals. And African Americans defend racists. Lawyers of all faiths and colour defended terrorists accused of plotting to destroy our country. It is what we do. The FACDL proclaims to be the last line of defense. Lawyers like the great Albert Krieger, who recently passed away, relished walking into a courtroom to defend someone no one else would defend. This is what we do because we know our actions do not connotate agreement with the crime, but a defense of the Constitution and the principles it embodies that protects us all.
So we rise to speak for the unspeakable. And to defend the un-defendable. To accuse the prosecutors in Minnesotta of bowing to the pressures of the mob. Of not having the courage to seek justice. Of only trying to molify a people rightfully angry.
Of forgetting the basic principle that two wrongs do not make a right.
The defense does not rest. We never rest. We have only just begun to fight.
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