If you’re just paying attention to the wacky presidential election this year, you are missing a blissful pattern in American politics wherein voters, frustrated by prosecutorial misconduct, are ridding themselves of controversial District or State Attorneys.
The latest prosecutor to emerge unsuccessful in a bid for re-election was Florida’s Ms. Angela Corey, who rigorously – and some say unjustly – went after Ms. Marissa Alexander, the Black mother who fired a warning shot in her home to scare off her abuser, and whose office is perceived to have dropped the ball in the trial of Mr. George Zimmerman, the killer of 17 year-old Mr. Trayvon Martin.
Ms. Corey, first elected in 2008, was seeking a third term, but the voters though it not in their best interest to re-elect her and instead cast ballots nearly en masse for Republican Ms. Melissa Nelson, a former assistant state attorney – Ms. Nelson, who now only has to defeat a write-in candidate, decisively won in all three Jacksonville-area counties.
Preceding Tuesday’s election, top prosecutors in both Illinois and Cleveland were dismissed by the citizenry following their haphazard handling of a high-profile case involving a black boy dying at the hands of a police officer. In Illinois, it was the cover-up in the officer-involved shooting death of 17 year-old Mr. Laquan McDonald that pushed voters over the edge and in favor of Ms. Kim Foxx. And, in Cleveland, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was the botch job in the courtroom performed by Mr. Tim McGinty following an unfit-for-duty police officer firing upon 12 year-old Mr. Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy guy absent of adult supervision, within mere seconds of arriving on the scene.
Given what now seems like a trend, all eyes should be trained on Philadelphia voters to see how they respond to Mr. Seth Williams, the first African-American District Attorney who in 2015 declined to charge the White police officer who killed Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown – age 26, unarmed, Black and fleeing at the time of his death – and then filed a false police report on the incident. For context, in Chicago this week the fairly new Police Superintendent filed termination charges for five officers involved in the fatal officer-involved shooting of Mr. McDonald – the shooter, Mr. Jason Van Dyke, is among the five and has already been charged with first-degree murder.
Mr. Williams, despite the narrative first fed to the public about the shooting of Mr. Tate-Brown being drastically different than what was finally revealed by then Police Commissioner Mr. Charles Ramsey, opted not to pursue criminal charges, calling the killing a tragedy not a crime – it’s worth noting here, as I have before, that the circumstances of Mr. McDonald’s shooting are almost identical to Mr. Tate-Brown’s: Black bodies with backs towards White officers, posing no immediate threat to them, killed in 2014 and then a narrative emerged that’s anything but true.
As was the case in Cleveland, Chicago and San Florida, protesters in Philadelphia targeted the office of the top prosecutor with demands and chants, but to no avail. Mr. Williams – who at the moment is drowning in bad press due to his failure to disclose that he accepted more than $160,000 in gifts and because his ex-girlfriend slashed the tires on the government-owned vehicles driven by his security detail – has remained firm in his position, even though it’s cost him relationships with various Black faith and civic leaders who now stand with the Tate-Brown family.
Philadelphia Mayor Mr. Jim Kenney didn’t say much about the drama surrounding Mr. Williams, but what he did say on Monday morning is even more relevant following the ousting of Ms. Corey in Florida: “The voters will decide if he returns.”
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
The role of men is changing in the 21st century. Want to keep up? Get the best stories from The Good Men Project delivered straight to your inbox, here.
Photo courtesy of the author.