Say Her Name

America’s “justice” system has proven time and time again that it was built around the idea of serving and protecting a specific portion of the American populace. And by the Constitution’s definition of what an American citizen is according to the social normalities from the fugitive law era of 1850, Americans are only considered to be the white majority. If you are black, brown, Jewish, Mexican, a woman, or even queer, the Constitution does not apply to you. These are my feelings towards how the law chooses to interpret what is meant to be human rights “for all” who are nationalized. Breonna Taylor, being a black natural-born, American woman, suffered the exact injustices the justice system had to offer minorities, or thereof, not offer.

The fact that exactly no justice was served for this life lost, that of a hard-working, caring, healthcare-hero, American citizen shows that America is unable to feel compassion and empathy for black individuals; America does not consider black people, people. If Breonna was Brittany justice would’ve been served almost immediately.

Many dismiss America’s racial injustice claims as mere rumors, stating that the ‘numbers are lower than you think’, so if a couple of black people die, it’s not a real issue. A truly tone-deaf statement. I would like to present one clear example of portraying the treatment of certain individuals in this country based on race. I want to compare the Justine Damond case and the Breonna Taylor case.

Justine Damond, a 40-year-old white woman, was a victim of police brutality back in 2017. She died after calling 9-1-1 for an assault she believed was taking place in an alley behind her home. After two police officers searched the area and went back into their cars to report their findings, Damond walked up to the police officer’s car window startling the officers, thus causing one of the officers to stupidly “ shoot first, and ask questions later”. Damond was shot in the abdomen and the police attempted CPR for twenty minutes until she then died. Now, of course, this unfortunate ordeal is at the fault of police misconduct. One of the two cops acted cowardly and an innocent civilian who was attempting to call the police for a possible rape crime paid the price for his actions.

The conclusion of this case, the justice that came about Justine’s death, is what I want to focus on because it proves that the outcomes of a court case can draw major influence from factors such as race and ethnicity.

Mohammad Noor, the black cop that shot Justine, was promptly charged with hefty charges considering the doubtless fact that the police almost never serve time or face major consequences for their misconduct. However, prosecutors wasted no time in charging this black police officer Noor with second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder. The prosecutors then later boosted Noor’s charges to second-degree intentional murder. Justine’s family was also awarded twenty million dollars in settlement.

Breonna Taylor was a victim in a SWAT raid that was part of a scheme to clear her neighborhood from its residents and rebuild the area for gentrification and charging the new residents a much higher price for the property. Taylor’s boyfriend assumed the SWAT raid was a break in stood his ground as an American citizen. As a result, shots were fired and Taylor paid the price with her life.

Brett Hankison was one of the police officers involved in Taylor’s murder. He was also the only cop out of many officers who was officially charged with a crime. To literally add insult to injury, he was charged for three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree. Wanton endangerment is the act of creating a dangerous environment that may cause harm to others in the hands of recklessness. Hankinson didn’t even see charges for Taylor’s death, he saw charges for endangering Taylor’s neighbors due to his shots traveling into their home from Taylor’s estate. Breonna Taylor’s family only saw twelve-million dollars in settlement for her life lost. None of the other cops were charged. No further justice was served for Breonna, her boyfriend, or her family.

A case with a white victim and a black cop showing exponential outcome differences compared to a case with a black victim and white cops is cookie-cutter proof that racial injustice exists. Systemic racism exists. Racism in the court house exists. Racism exists. In both scenarios, there were two innocent casualties and two cops with blood on their hands. However, because racism plays in keen role in all things “justice”, ‘the white case’ made its way to court while ‘the black case’ had to be recognized in the media for people to even talk about it and demand justice.

Here’s the difference I’m sure will open your eyes. Nobody has heard of Justine Damond, and if you have, you forgot about the name, but no one will forget about Breonna Taylor.

Damond’s case didn’t need media attention, public outrage, or marches, and protests. Her case was taken care of with fragility like a piece of old art in a museum. There were no objections and no fuss. Breonna Taylor’s name is known worldwide. There have been hundreds of marches and protests calling out for justice to be served. To make the case process more difficult then it already is for black people, racists and ignorant Americans dug up fabrications and other rumors about Breonna’s boyfriend, stating the couple deserved what came upon them because Breonna’s boyfriend was a drug dealer. Breonna’s case was handled just like a bull in a china shop would handle china.

Breonna Taylor’s case verdict shocked me but I wasn’t surprised. America has let me down time and time again. America has let Taylor’s family down, Floyd’s family down, Martin’s family down, Castille’s, Bland’s, Garner’s, Arbery’s Rice’s, and thousands more. And when one black American hurts, we all hurt, so imagine the pain of thousands.

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