In 2013, the Supreme Court repealed Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act because, as Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” Justice Roberts clearly felt that racism was no longer the problem it was in 1965 when the law was originally passed. Well, guess what folks … it is every bit as big a problem today. Two stories from this past week prove the point.
Two men entered a Starbucks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They did not immediately place an order, for they were waiting for their friend, Andrew Yaffe, to join them before ordering. Mr. Yaffe would arrive in just a few minutes, only to find his friends being arrested by Philadelphia police. Why? They were being arrested for ‘defiant trespassing’, according to police. Mr. Yaffe explained to police that the two were his friends and were waiting for him, but the men were, nonetheless, handcuffed and taken to the police station. Nine hours later they were released without being charged.
How often have you arranged to meet friends for lunch, dinner, or just coffee, and on arriving first, declined to order until your friend arrived? It is not a crime, people! Oh … unless you are black, that is. When the men first entered the Starbucks, they told the employee at the counter that they would order shortly, that they were waiting for their friend. The white, female employee nonetheless called police.
Starbucks CEO, Kevin Johnson, issued the following statement:Meanwhile, police commissioner Richard Ross supported his officers, saying, “These officers did absolutely nothing wrong. They followed policy; they did what they were supposed to do. They were professional in all their dealings with these gentlemen. And instead, they got the opposite back.”
You be the judge …
In Rochester Hills, Michigan, 14-year-old Brennan Walker missed his school bus and had to walk to school. Not exactly sure of the best route, Brennan knocked on the door of the home of Jeffrey Zeigler and his wife to ask directions to Rochester High School. Zeigler’s wife answered the door and immediately began yelling at Brennan, asking him why he was trying to ‘break into’ her house, as he tried to explain. And then, along came Mr. Zeigler with his shotgun. Brennan did exactly what any of us would have done … he turned around and ran. And as he ran, he heard the gunshot. Fortunately, Zeigler is a bad shot and Brennan was petrified, but not hit.
Jeffrey Zeigler, a retired firefighter who is white, was charged with assault with intent to murder and a felony firearm charge, and his bond was set at $50,000. During his arraignment, Zeigler said …
“There’s a lot more to the story than what’s being told, and I believe that will all come out in court. I was in bed yesterday morning when my wife started screaming and crying … ”
And at that point, the judge stopped his diatribe.
A surveillance camera mounted on the house caught the incident on tape, and Ms. Zeigler can be heard saying, “Why did these people choose my house?” These people? Who are ‘these people’?
Brennan’s dad, by the way, is currently deployed in Syria as a part of the U.S. Army Special Forces.
In a similar case in Dearborn, Michigan in 2013, a young black woman was shot and killed by a homeowner when she knocked on his door to use the phone after an auto accident.
I have to disagree with Chief Justice Roberts – our country has not changed. Racism is very much alive and well, and while I would agree that we shouldn’t need to legislate fairness and equality, the ugly truth is that we still very much do need to.
Why anybody should think they are superior to another based on the colour of their skin remains beyond me, but in this, the 21st century, it is obvious that far too many do. Since the election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land, there is increased activity by white supremacist groups, some of whom have openly stated that their goal is to “secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” Since the appointment of a proven racist to the position of U.S. Attorney General, we have seen a rollback in programs that were implemented to monitor police departments and provide training to defeat racist attitudes.
No, Justice Roberts, America has not changed.