On Friday evening (5 th December) I attended a vigil in Fountain Square in the center of my community of Chestertown , Maryland . The meeting, to 'pay respect and raise awareness of the recent events in Ferguson , Missouri ', was organized by the local Diversity Dialog Group.
I have to admit I went more out of curiosity than actual conviction. Even so, there were nearly a hundred people at the beginning which slowly whittled down to a hard core of about seventy, who stood outside in the cool damp darkness for almost an hour - lighting candles, listening to prayers, motions of solidarity, and calls for justice and dialog between the races.
For a December evening spotting with rain and nothing special on the television I guess it wasn't a bad turnout for a town of little more than 5,000. The usual suspects were there -- about a quarter were black, another quarter looked like students from the local college, and the rest were like me -- geriatric former hippies, lefties, Pinkos, etc with a scattering of the religious. Many were leftovers from a bygone age when conviction meant something more than being determined to get a bargain on Cyber Monday.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's wonderful that even this small group turned up but the reality is that dialog is actually only part of the process. As someone who lived in South Africa under the brutal apartheid state in the early 1970's I know this for a fact. Nelson Mandela didn't later negotiate the dismantling of this oppressive system in a vacuum. A lot of people who went before him and protested whilst he was in jail had to get their hands dirty, not to say even bloody, in order for him to ultimately succeed.
People who think that the normal default reaction to a crisis will work as usual, by keeping their heads down and hoping the problem goes away, are deluding themselves. We have reached a tipping point.
There are calls to blame the police and retrain them. Considering the police are entirely recruited from the wider population which they must naturally reflect means such panaceas are somewhat naïve and unlikely to succeed.
Racism and the killing of young Black men and youth by the police is only the tip of the criminal justice ice-berg which has been deliberately ignored by our useless 'lamestream' media', President, Congress, and other so-called national leaders who have betrayed their constituents for a quiet life under their true paymasters -- corporate America.
The criminal justice system is an oxymoron, much like the United States of America - it isn't and we aren't! The USA now has more people its prison system than Stalin had at the zenith of the Soviet Gulags. We only have about 5% of the planet's population but hold about 25% of the earth's prisoners and a disproportionate number of those are non-white This either means Americans are the most criminally minded of all nations or there is something terribly wrong with our criminal justice system.
We all know the answer to this question and it doesn't matter where you stand on the political spectrum. Where is the justice when a youth's life can be destroyed and sent to jail for years for dealing in a little dope but a bankster can loot the economy for billions, make millions loose their homes through foreclosures, destroy companies, and gamble with workers life savings and yet only receive a slap on the wrist and a fine - all preceded by a tax-payer funded bailout? A nation where corporations can pollute the environment, destroy habitats, and poison water but only get fined money which they are then allowed to write off against their taxes?
This isn't justice -- it's a corporate criminal racket perpetuated by an economic system that sees the planet as a huge refuse dump and prisoners as a cash crop to be farmed -- all for the benefit of a small minority.
Police killings and racism are not the cause of our problems they are only symptoms of a dysfunctional and unsustainable economic system.