Equal Protection Under the Law

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All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” –14th Amendment, Section 1

It’s been over 100 days since Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson, Missouri policeman Darren Wilson. Only two individuals know for sure what occurred that day, officer Wilson who claimed he acted in self-defense and Brown who was shot at least six times, including twice in the head. Tensions are once again high in Ferguson where many believe Wilson will not be indicted and there is good reason the public Is skeptical.

Hard numbers are hard to come by, but Laurie Levenson (former federal prosecutor) and others agreed that it is exceedingly rare for a police officer to be indicted for a homicide committed in the line of duty. Convictions are even rarer. The FBI reported 410 justifiable homicides by law enforcement in 2012. The number of indictments appear to be minimal after a TPM review of available press reports. A 1979 study found three convictions out of the 1,500 police killings it studied over a five-year period (Dylan Scott).

In 2007, ColorLinesand the Chicago Reporter investigated fatal police shootings in 10 major cities, and found that there were a disproportionately high number of African Americans among police shooting victims in every one, particularly in New York, San Diego, and Las Vegas. In Oakland, California, the NAACP reported that out of 45 officer-involved shootings in the city between 2004 and 2008, 37 of those shot were black. None were white. One-third of the shootings resulted in fatalities. Although weapons were not found in 40 percent of cases, the NAACP found, no officers were charged. (These numbers don’t include 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was shot and killed by a transit authority officer at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day of 2009 (Jaeah Lee).”

The 14th Amendment states, “…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” A trial, that’s all we‘re asking for, that’s the least Michael Brown deserves.

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