• J. Isaac Noel Benjamin, II

Does "And Justice for All" Represent Everyone?


The Chronicle News stock Photo: The Scales of Justice


Asking to be recognized as a member of the human race is unfathomable. Yet, that is the reality for millions of Americans. This is not supposed to be the birthplace of the "Motherland" or the "Master Race." The United States is supposedly the home of the free and the brave. We are supposed to be a nation of immigrants. In the United States, the catchphrase "innocent until proven guilty" has its own unique meaning. One would assume that if this is the law, it applies to everyone.


The fact of the matter is, this applies only when whoever is in charge decides to effectuate their brand of justice. Case in point, if you are complicit in the commission of a felony, you don’t have to pull the trigger to be held accountable for the felony. Closer to the point, if you incite a riot, you should be held criminally liable for the fruits of your labor. Most assuredly, if lives are lost as a direct result of your call to arms. How can you consider not holding the head of a snake accountable for biting you while dividing up the body of the snake to determine amounts of accountability?


Closer to home. I used to live in Lansing, Michigan. I’ve recently become aware that the current Lansing Mayor has commissioned a counsel to look into racial injustice. However, the commission has a prescribed format that does not address real issues or give an audience to everyday citizens. The council appears to have all of the proper bells and whistles. It even seems to be a blast to test drive. The fact remains that the commission is politically motivated and does not represent the views of the community at large; it’s out of gas and going nowhere!


Let’s discuss the matter of accountability further. An impeachment proceeding is a wrong forum for adjudication of felonious acts of violence. First-year law students learn that you can’t shout fire in a crowded theatre; then claim freedom of speech after people are trampled to death. If there’s justice, you should be held accountable for opening your mouth.

Justice! If ever there was a word with multiple meanings, justice is such a word. If you go to the police, swear out a complaint, legally, the officer is duty-bound to arrest the offender and let a judge sort out the details. There is some discretion in these matters if the police supposedly don’t believe there’s a good faith belief that the charges are made up or false. At least, that is the version most people choose to believe.



The Chronicle News stock Photo: The Beating


Most African-Americans in the United States have a "Driving While Black" story to tell. My story starts after I took possession of my new Lincoln Navigator. I traded in my paid-for Durango for the Lincoln. I purchase the vehicle in the city where I grew up, despite moving to a new city. On the way to pick up the car, I received a questionable speeding ticket.

Not wanting to allow a buzz kill moment to dampen my spirits, I pressed on. I joined my wife at a play and agreed to join her and her friends for dinner after the show. On the way to dinner, things got stranger than usual.

My new vehicle was selected out of ten or so vehicles traveling in the same direction. They were all mostly moving faster than me, so I knew it wasn’t about speeding.

“May I see your license and registration,” a female voice said.

I produced the required documents.


The officer returned to her vehicle. About ten minutes later, she returned to my car with a ticket. She gave me some instructions on how to pay for the infraction.

“What did I do wrong,” I inquired. “You don’t have proper plates,” she said.

When the dust settled, this was all dismissed. However, along the way, the officer checked a felony box on the original ticket she issued. I did not initially notice that this box had been checked. I went down to the courthouse the next business day, trying to clear up this misunderstanding.


I presented my information and asked for clarification. The clerk ushered me into what I thought was a strange-looking waiting room. Moments later, my name was called. I stood up to a judge, asking how I plead. I tried again to explain. “How do you plead,” said a very stern judge. “Not guilty,” I said.


I was arrested and arranged on unknown felony charges. Even stranger, released without bail and given a date to reappear to face the charges. I sought legal counsel and was advised to plea bargain for a lesser sentence. I fired the idiot assigned to help me. If I was going up a creek without a paddle, I didn’t need a guide. The part of all of this preceding that’s interesting is that municipalities all across the country are using the police to collect revenue.


On the day I was scheduled to answer for my crimes, I met with the district attorney. “Why didn’t you just pay the fine,” she said. “Most people just pay.” “I haven’t done a single thing wrong,” I defiantly replied. The fact is that police are issuing bogus tickets, and the recipients pay the fines rather than lose time at work or give in to other harsh realities.


Another inescapable reality is that we are still fighting the American Civil War. We may have put down our arms in 1865, but the battle rages on. There’re way too many examples throughout history that are on point. One fact looms more extensive than all others combined. It’s completely legal to kill black people!


Everyone understood disposing of property as you saw fit when slavery was the law of the land. The only question I need to be answered; when are we supposed to be included in the human race!


If a dog was doing something objectionable to human beings, they are captured and caged. No one asked the pooch to explain themselves either. And, if they are deemed incorrigible, they are put to death too!

56 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All