HUFFINGTON POST By Rev. Al Sharpton The justice system. We often like to think that in a great democracy like ours, we are all equal under the law no matter what our personal or financial background. The reality is, that while we may have a right to an attorney and a day in court, our judicial system is far from perfect. Too often, those with money and power can avert harsh sentences, while the poor find themselves receiving maximum time and penalties. This aspect of economic inequality — one where a 16-year-old teenager can drive drunk, kill four people and receive no jail time because he allegedly suffered from ‘affluenza’ — is one of our greatest remaining challenges. Financial disparity within our judicial system isn’t a notion of the past; it is ever present today. And perhaps nothing serves as more of a stirring reminder of this grave injustice than the very case of this teen, Ethan Couch, who has forever shattered the lives of many and received nothing but a virtual slap on the wrist. FULL ARTICLE
This past Saturday, approximately 175,000 to 200,000 people gathered and marched in Washington, D.C. to call attention to the civil rights challenges of our time. When Martin Luther King III and I called for this rally, it was widely assumed that we would not be able to get even 100,000 to participate. Those naysayers couldn’t have been more wrong. At a time when so many Americans are gravely concerned about voting rights, jobs, gun violence and safety, hundreds of thousands traveled from across the country to join us because they understand the fierce urgency of now. While we acknowledge progress achieved during the last 50 years, we are not blind to the great injustices of today. On Wednesday, President Obama and others will commemorate the ‘March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.’ We will be a part of that celebration, but we remain passionate about the continuation of the actualization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.‘s dream that was represented on Saturday. Our work is far from over, but we, the people, are re-energized to tackle injustice head on.
Two weeks after the inexcusable death of young Trayvon Martin, I received a call from the attorney representing the Martin family, Benjamin Crump. It was a plea for assistance as the person responsible for the 17-year-old’s death was walking around freely as if nothing had happened. George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested that fateful night. George Zimmerman wasn’t arrested the next day. George Zimmerman, in fact, wasn’t arrested for over 40 days after killing a teenager. It was only because of a rallying cry for justice that the Sanford police department had to do its job and place handcuffs around Zimmerman. It was only after tens of thousands marched and protested that a special prosecutor was assigned to the case, who then brought charges that they failed to bring. And it was only then that this case finally went to trial. After this weekend’s atrocious verdict, some are acting as if a trial was automatic from the beginning. Let’s not have amnesia. Grassroots activism and mobilization for truth are the only reason why we even know the names Trayvon and Zimmerman. And they will once again be the reason why we take the fight to a federal level. The jury’s decision has left us with an atrocity and a disgrace to any American who believes in freedom, equality and justice. Interfering with the right of a person to walk home having committed no crime or trespassing is an outrageous travesty and a violation of that person’s civil liberties. Trayvon Martin had a civil right to go home that night. He never made it to his destination because of the actions of one man, and one man alone who was not a member of law enforcement and had no authority to disrupt his right of movement.
A Florida jury has found George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman plead not-guilty, and said he had acted in self-defense when he shot Martin on Feb. 26. 2012.
“I think that this is an atrocity,” Rev. Al Sharpton said on MSNBC shortly after the verdict was announced. ”I think that it is probably one of the worst situations that I’ve seen. What this jury has done is establish a precedent, that if you are young and fit a certain profile, you can be committing no crime, just bringing some Skittles and iced tea home to your brother, and be killed, and someone can claim self-defense having been exposed with all kinds of lies, all kinds of inconsistencies.”
“This is a slap in the face to those that believe in justice in this country,” Sharpton added later.
Editor’s note: George Zimmerman has sued NBC Universal for defamation. The company strongly denies the allegation. [Full Quote]
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By SUZANNE GAMBOA Associated Press
“Just as they were announcing plans for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, black and civil rights leaders learned the Supreme Court had kicked back to a lower court a case challenging the use of race in college admissions.
That and other key cases before the Supreme Court connected to race and civil rights, the leaders said Monday, is why the five days of events marking the historic march this August will not simply be a commemoration.
“It is the intent of those that come together to make it clear that this is not just a nostalgia visit, that this is not a commemoration but a continuation and a call to action,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, who head the National Action Network. “We are in a climate that is threatening too much of what was achieved 50 years ago.”
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