Being shocked has become a daily ritual ever since Donald Trump announced his presidency. Trump didn’t invent racism; he just created a safe place for public expression. Racial ignorance comes covert, overt, often, and unsolicited.
But the quote mentioned above entered into the eternal transcripts of the Ahmaud Arbery trial surpassed shock and entered the realm of stupor.
The idea that any “officer of the court” holding a bar license would stoop as low as to excavate the dirtiest of racial tropes was appalling on several levels.
WJCL, a local television affiliate in Savannah, Georgia, reported how the legal community perceived defense attorney Laura Hogue’s comments.
“In that moment, Hogue took the opportunity to portray Arbery as a “runaway slave,” said Charles Coleman Jr., a civil rights attorney, and former prosecutor.
“Her word choice was intentional, her descriptions were unnecessary. And the description ultimately is inflammatory,” Coleman told CNN.
It was an “attempt to sort of really trigger some of the racial tropes and stereotypes that may be deeply embedded in the psyche of some of the jurors,” he continued.
Glynn County, where the trial is being held, is made up of 69% White residents and 27% Black. Just one of the 12 jurors is Black.”
But as far as race-laden and unjust trial cases go, this case was par for America’s course.
In the Viola Liuzzo trial, Thomas Eaton and Collie Leroy Wilkins Jr. were acquitted by state trials and convicted under federal charges.
Ms. Liuzzo, a White woman, dis- missed the warnings of the local NAACP president and was killed by Montgomery, Alabama Klan members for shuttling Negro men after a civil rights march.
Bernhard Goetz was declared not guilty after shooting four Black teenagers, and one was left paralyzed. Goetz spent eight months in jail, but only because he was not authorized to carry the weapon.
Gun lobbyists have been thriving ever since. Under today’s “carry laws” in most states, Goetz would have left the courtroom for home.
On January 10, 1966, Ku Klux Klan members firebombed the house and country store of local NAACP leader Vernon Dahmer who died of smoke inhalation trying to defend his home. Dahmer was guilty of enticing African Americans to register to vote. He offered to help pay for their poll.
Klan Wizard Sam Bowers won several acquittals while Dahmer’s wife and family watched from the “cheap seats” aka the “old colored section.”
1973, Thomas Shea, a plain- clothes New York City cop, shot 10-year-old Clifford Glover in the back as they ran. Glover and his dad, Add Armstead, ran as police approached them in an unmarked police car. The father and son thought they were about to be robbed.
Shea was found not guilty by 11 White men and one Black woman after testifying that the boy had a weapon. That weapon supposedly seen with the boy was never found.
The Arbery trial makes you wonder what zealous attorneys said before a jury in untelevised trials.
With judges like “Injustice” Bruce Schroeder in the Ritten-house case’ there is no telling. Schroeder’s discriminating court demeanor possibly led the jury to find the young shooter not guilty.
There is an age-old admonishment in Black America that Schroderetal could learn from. Black mothers have for centuries told their children to always leave home in clean underwear and clothes. Just in case you die before you make it home, at least you will look decent.
I guess we have to add a fresh pedicure and a pair of socks of the defense attorney’s choosing to that list. However, the toes of injustice on the feet of America’s judicial system are long, dirty, and unfit for inspection.
The remarks of Laura Hogue proved that, and no jury could refute that charge. Well…unless Schroder sat for the case!
Vincent L. Hall is an author, activist, and an award-winning columnist.