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Civil Rights Criminal Justice

The Climate of Fear


Commentary by Jennifer Sullivan, Co-Chair of the Green Party of Florida

It’s never enough. The greed. The downplaying. The usual. Once again the climate of fear that the Twin Powers of Politics have created to play their ongo­ing ‘good cop bad cop’ routine has reared its ugly head: Trayvon Martin shot in cold blood.

Part of the reason that the Green Party exists is to decry this ongoing injustice!

The story isn’t new. It goes back to when people were purchased, transported & sold out of Africa. It’s the Freedom Rid­ers and Emmett Till (brutally slaughtered for— gasp—maybe whistling at a white woman). It’s when neighborhood organizers were portrayed as ‘hoods’ by unethical cops & then hunted & killed. Such was the case of Fred Hampton, in Chicago, taken out by the FBI. Being any sort of excellent black leader could fare no better, as we all know. Martin Luther King Jr. & Malcolm X were both shot, surprisingly, after they each realized that peace was the answer to violence.

The riots of the ’60s in Watts, Oakland, Detroit & elsewhere had a reason. The evidence often can be hidden or destroyed, but when it emerges there is no hiding for the perpetrators, other than the clannism of certain white males who feel that they are never to be challenged & that they are never the wrongdoers. It’s more expected in the deep south, but it’s been all over. Found in our 3 premiere cities from coast to coast: New York, Chicago & LA just as now found in a small town like Sanford, Florida.

When the Rodney King beating is captured on film. It’s ‘justified’ in that he may have had a record & ‘deserved’ it. The shooting of Oscar Grant at the Oakland BART station? He seemed ‘suspicious.’ Amadou Diallo in NYC shot 41 times by several officers? They did it in ‘self-defense’ since they “thought he had a weapon” when he got out his wallet to show them his ID. It’s again, in NYC with 18 year old RaMarley Graham shot by police. All were ‘guilty’ of being black men.

In my area of Florida, St. Petersburg, this has been an ongoing issue. As the Green Party representative, I have marched & spoken out in solidarity for reparations for the young African American men shot (be­fore any sort of trial) by police such as Javon Dawson, Tyron Lewis, Marquell McCullogh & Jarrell Walker. All these even BEFORE the Obama administration said it’s ‘okay’ to kill citizen suspects.

It happens all the time where certain white males are allowed to kill someone darker than a paper bag. These murders are usually either never investigated or never solved. They usually never end in a serious conviction. Whereas the opposite is true when the colors are reversed. Then justice is swift­er than facts. SOMEBODY will always be found. Consider Mumia Abu Jumal, Troy Davis & the numerous African males who were freed after DNA evidence emerged to show them innocent.

How dare the Soledad Brothers look for humane prison conditions!

Consider a preposterous law that was passed in the state of Florida called “stand your ground”, thereby implying some sort of action star heroism. As the facts continue to emerge, the outrageousness of this recent shooting of a beloved young man named Trayvon gets way beyond anything that we should tolerate in our society. Especially troubling is the drumbeat from the NRA desperately trying to justify Zimmerman’s role & trash Trayvon’s image, as well.

As a mother, who happens to be the co-chair of the Green Party of Florida, I weep for this injustice on many levels. First, having known the deep agony when my son faced death after an athletic injury. I did not have to travel that horrific road to the very end. Still, the memory of the possibility where my child’s life could suddenly end, while still virtually a child, will never leave me. If you have not been even there, how can one feel the pain of mothers who lost their boys, primarily, just because their color made them targets?

As an activist, I decry the popular notion that “if you do what’s right, you won’t get into any trouble & have nothing to fear.” That does not pan out because when you speak for good things like: peace, clean energy, health care for all, worker’s unions, women’s rights, homeowners over Wall Street bankers & a more fair political system it’s amazingly considered ‘anti-Amer­i­can’! This system makes people who do good & simple things like protecting de­fenseless animals or simply practicing the faith of Islam viewed as ‘potential terrorists.’ It makes people of color automatic ‘criminals.’

Jennifer Sullivan, author of The Climate of Fear

The Green Party exists because we reject discrimination & the violent fearmongering that works to divide us, so that we can be conquered by the those who are thriving in the existing power structure. We reject the agenda of those who embrace their greed as good, be it hoarded power or hoarded wealth. We stand, not as a dis­appointing political party that play-acts as the one that those who are dis-empowered can cling to. We stand, not as the party that hates to share, says that whatever they speak is ‘right’ & flaunts hierarchy as somehow ‘earned’ even though it’s really just born into.

The Green Party stands as the alternative and in unity with all of the 99% of us who could get along better if the indoctrination from the power structure would let us.

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