An element of the Clinton campaign that’s both unlike its competitor, the Trump campaign, and any political organization formed to assist a candidate in obtaining the presidency of the United States is its heavy reliance on black women whose loved ones were treated as disposable by police or, in the case of Mr. Trayvon Martin, a rogue neighborhood-watch volunteer who, believing the 17 year-old was a suspicious character seeking to commit a crime, in 2012 disobeyed orders from law enforcement not to pursue the teen and instead engaged him, ultimately ending his life.
It was Mr. Martin’s mother, Ms. Sybrina Fulton, who was among the first of her kind to endorse Mrs. Clinton, who has since gone on to acquire a women-led stable of the aggrieved, which includes Mrs. Tanya Brown-Dickerson, whose son, Mr. Brandon Tate-Brown, was killed in December of 2014 while unarmed and fleeing by a Philadelphia police officer named Mr. Nicholas Carrelli, who never had to stand trial for his actions and who, despite the lies he told, in 2016 continues to patrol and police sections of the City.
When I met and posed a question about policing to Mrs. Clinton months ago in Philadelphia, she was flanked by the mothers of Mr. Tate-Brown, Mr. Dontre Hamilton, who was killed in April 2014 by a police officer who never faced charges but was fired by his department; Ms. Sandra Bland, who was arrested outside of Houston, Texas and later died in a jail cell of an apparent suicide: Ms. Geneva Reed Veal, Ms. Bland’s mother, contends her daughter would never commit such an act; and the fiancé of Mr. Sean Bell, who was killed the morning before his wedding after he and two associates were shot a total of fifty times by NYPD officers who were all found not-guilty of manslaughter, assault, and reckless endangerment.
Mrs. Clinton is not seeking nor calling for justice in these cases, rather she’s giving these deserving black women a national platform to share their stories while also attempting to draw attention to her criminal justice reform platform, which includes, according to her website, “bringing law enforcement and communities together to develop national guidelines on the use of force by police officers.”
Though good, Mrs. Clinton’s criminal justice reform platform could be better, bolder, and more focused on overturning divisive and/or racist policing laws. For starters – and because its been made uber relevant by the lack of accountability in the aftermath of the death of Mr. Freddie Gray, a 25 year-old black Baltimorean who in April 2015 died from injuries sustained while in police custody – Mrs. Clinton, who today on Fox News Sunday said she hopes to appoint justices to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn several rulings, including Citizens United, could name among the disastrous rulings which need mitigation, Illinois v. Wardlow, a case decided in 2000 which states that fleeing in a high-crime area at the sight of police is enough to create reasonable suspicion.
It was the precedent set by Illinois v. Wardlow that enabled the Baltimore police officers last year to pursue Mr. Gray after he attempted to evade their eyesight while in a neighborhood known for its low-level drug trade. And, it should be noted, that fleeing police does not constitute reasonable suspicion in locales other than the American ghettos.
Opposing this law is on brand for Mrs. Clinton, who has made apart of her criminal justice platform “supporting legislation to end racial profiling,” and who upon my questioning told me that police officers should be looking for probable cause, not reasonable suspicion.
Another ruling that’s gutted the Fourth Amendment, one that’s only months old, is Utah v. Strieff, which holds the opinion that “When there was no flagrant police misconduct and a police officer discovered a valid, pre-existing, and untainted warrant for an individual’s arrest, evidence seized pursuant to that arrest is admissible even if the police officer’s stop of the individual was unconstitutional, because the discovery of the warrant attenuated the connection between the stop and the evidence.”
The Fourth Amendment standard of probable cause has been in steep decline since the late 1960s when the Supreme Court ruled in Terry v. Ohio – a case seen as the catalyst for America’s stop-and-frisk problem – that a police officer can detain, inquire of, and pat down an individual if they have reasonable suspicion that the person is preparing to commit, or just committed, a crime.
Mrs. Clinton, when I asked her about stop-and-frisk and the Terry v. Ohio ruling, wouldn’t commit to appointing a justice to overturning it, though she did say the argument in favor of the policy doesn’t hold up under scrutiny.
Repealing the aforementioned laws will reduce the probability that an officer will come in contact with a citizen, and that, in turn, will lower the probability of an officer, for whatever reason, having to use (deadly) force. The Mothers of the Movement, united in grief, I assume don’t want fame but rather justice and a change in the way law enforcement interacts with communities of color. And if Mrs. Clinton is unable to deliver justice for their deceased loved ones, at least her presidency, if it were to be so, can provide such a change in interactions, which would be a slither of justice for the black communities who, too, are grieving and who every day, since American policing was established to control black bodies and protect white people’s property, live in fear of law enforcement.
Mrs. Clinton, nearly 70 years of age and a grandmother, is no superhero – not a single American politician who ever existed held the power to change the world alone – but the remedies to social ills largely impacting African-Americans I suggested would absolutely be within her purview as President of the United States of America to deal with, and they are more than reasonable requests, considering some activists want American police forces to be disarmed.
If Mrs. Clinton believes that black lives, indeed, do matter – and that the criminal justice system is, according to her campaign’s website, “out of balance” – she should openly oppose, and aim to overturn with appointments, the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that, in practice, render black lives vulnerable.
Thanks for reading. Until next time, I’m Flood the Drummer® & I’m Drumming for JUSTICE!™
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