Despite 420 celebrations and growing support to legalize it, people of color continue to be incarcerated for marijuana and excluded from the cannabis industry.
Historically, drug policy has been written with racist intentions and fueled by hysteria over the war on drugs. This has led to racial disparities in sentencing for crack cocaine possession.
The U.S. positions itself as a just country with a superior legal system where people are always considered innocent until proven guilty and always granted the right to a trial before a jury of their peers. Except this isn’t true at all. Despite the promise of the Sixth Amendment, we do not have an effective right to trial because today, the overwhelming majority of cases will never see a judge.
Law and Order. CSI. Hawaii-Five-Oh. American Sniper. TV shows and movies about law enforcement and the police permeate the screens of Americans across the country. Media portrayals about police officers, detectives, judges, crime fighters, and more firmly implemented into the cultural lexicon. Just because they are on TV does not mean that these shows exclusively exist for entertainment. Many shows actively depict criminal justice without showcasing the many ways it harms the lives of communities of color. These shows often work to bolster law enforcement in the eyes of white supremacy while simultaneously reducing compassion for the disproportionately Black victims of its system.
Vigilantes and law enforcement groups have long worked together to create and protect the racial order in the United States.
In the U.S., it’s legal to be kidnapped and incarcerated without being convicted of any crime. You haven’t confessed. You aren’t considered dangerous or liable to flee before your court date. You have not been proven guilty so you must, by this country’s legal code, be considered innocent. You are nonetheless told you will be incarcerated indefinitely. Your trial date may be scheduled for a few weeks from now – – or, it may not arrive for years.
If you’ve participated or watched protests unfold in cities across the country this past year, you may have noticed that law enforcement looked more like members of our military than neighborhood police. And that’s intentional, as, over the past decades, the U.S. has made it easier for law enforcement to access surplus military equipment for everyday use.
For the past month, Derek Chauvin has been on trial for the murder of George Floyd. Finally, the verdict is out. Chauvin faced three charges: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. To convict Chauvin, the prosecution needed to show each charge beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecution did not need to prove that Chauvin intended to kill George Floyd to convict him of the charges.