By Chardae Jones
Mayor of Braddock, Pa.
The words “not guilty” flashed on the bottom of the screen Friday and even the optimist in me screamed.
It was then I knew I was living in the upside down. This same screen showed actual menaces to society being apprehended by police in cuffs time and time again. I couldn’t fathom how a jury sat in a room, examined the facts, and determined Michael Rosfeld was not guilty of anything after shooting Antwon Rose II three times while he was unarmed and running away.
“He felt threatened.”
“He shouldn’t have run.”
“I thought he was armed.”
Thought, felt, even shouldn’t, aren’t solid reasons for shooting a teen going in the opposite direction. Time after time, African-American men are criticized for their police relations. I’m concerned because history has shown dire outcomes for people who have stayed in the car, stepped out the car, put their hands up, put their hands down, talked polite, acted annoyed, and became aggressive.
“Felt threatened” is repeatedly used as an excuse in inexcusable situations When police to shoot and kill an individual. This has become a gut-wrenching textbook justification that, if the roles were reversed, would never hold up in court.
“The justice system worked exactly like it was supposed to.”
This statement repeatedly came up in the comments section of various media outlets. The pain of it all is, it’s slightly true. The justice system is so broken that it’s completely failing people of color. There’s no simple fix either but usually the biggest problems take the most labor. Until we can figure out how to change this corrupt, injustice system we have to stand up where we can.
Society as a whole should stop avoiding jury duty like the plague (your peers need you), vote in every single election (not voting is still voting and usually those little elections have big impacts), and last but not least, look at your current elected representatives and if they don’t represent you, find someone who will. These people serve your community not the other way around. Whether it’s your state representative, district attorney, or even local council person, find out what these people voted for, what they stand for, and decide for yourself if you want to stand with them.
We didn’t fail Antwon Rose, but together we can lead the change to ensure that there isn’t another mother burying her child because a policeman shot him, or her, while they were running away, holding their hands up, talking too fast, talking too slowly, acting too aggressively, acting too politely, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Society has changed and so should our system.