A Fair Trial

Voice Card  -  Volume 24  -  John Card Number 14  -  Mon, May 18, 1992 9:17 PM

This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 24 Roger 2 ("Rodney King Jury")...


Your statement is more than "somewhat paraphrased"! I don't know of any responsible source who feels the jurors in the Rodney King trial deserve "death threats." But most people in this country were shocked and dismayed by their verdict.

Is that really so hard to understand? Put the infamous video aside for a moment. Consider the testimony of other LA police officers that the beating clearly violated regulations. Even chief Gates, himself a borderline fascist, found the tape "revolting and unconscionable." Consider the repeated blatant racist statements by several of the officers in front of many witnesses. Consider also the comments of the sole Hispanic juror who said the white jurors had made up their mind before the trial even began.

And what of the videotape? I found it curious that you should refer to it as a "one-sided" videotape. This tape does not have a "side"; it simply records a crowd of white police officers beating (and beating and beating) a black man who is lying face down on the pavement. It was not edited, not dramatized for television. It was simply pointed in one direction and turned on.

Given all this, it is only natural that we should question the verdict of this jury. And the issue here, of course, is not just this one decision but a continuing pattern which strongly suggests that there are two standards of justice in this country, one for the whites and one for the rest.

I don't think anyone is naive enough to believe that the jury system is infallible. What we have been taught, however, is that although jurors are only human and are quite capable of making mistakes, the system as a whole is impartial. This is why lady justice is depicted as wearing a blindfold. At the very least, she is supposed to be color blind.

The anger felt by many in the black community is that again and again blacks defendants are found guilty far more often then their white counterparts, and are punished far more severely. Finally, an all too typical case of police brutality was caught on film for all the world to see. And still the white men were set free.

As citizens of this country we have every right to question a justice system that can be so easily manipulated. And we ignore the underlying racism at our peril.