Wednesday, November 12, 2008

N & O editorials continue to skirt the real issue: the state’s tenet of "selective justice based on Class and Color."

In the Sunday, November 9, 2008 issue of the News & Observer, the paper’s editorial staff wrote a piece titled " ‘Free’ hate." The article, was at best, a tepid response to inaction taken against four North Carolina State University students who "have admitted painting racist and life-threatening graffiti pertaining to President-elect Obama…" The defense of the four seems to be that they wrote the hateful statements on a wall that was suppose to have graffiti on it. In other words, it is one’s first amendment right to paint threatening and racist remarks on a "graffiti" wall, as readers of the editorial are led to believe. If that is the case, why paint over it? Or, maybe the university could designate a special wall just for "hate speech."

The problem, of course, lies much deeper than what appears on the surface. The core of the North Carolina justice system is based on the tenet of "selective justice based on Class and Color." Such a system encourages the despicable actions of the four students. What those students learned when they were not charged with a crime for threatening the life of the PRESIDENT-ELECT (and using the "n-word" in the process), is that in North Carolina, under head prosecutor Roy Cooper (the attorney general), class and color matter.

The News & Observer, which lionizes the late Senator Jesse Helms (referring to him as an "iconic statesman who spoke his mind"), could take a major step in challenging this state’s selective justice system, but it has opted not to do so. I, personally, have challenged the editorial staff to speak up about the injustice against former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, but they refuse to do so, or give me a reason for their refusal. The newspaper refuses to participate in a questionnaire about the Duke Lacrosse case, for fear that their responses would be favorable to Mr. Nifong. The newspaper’s editorial staff and columnists, refuse to broach the subject, which screams of injustice. How is it possible for Mr. Nifong to be the only prosecutor to be disbarred by the North Carolina State Bar since its inception? Especially when other prosecutors, such as Anson County prosecutor Michael Parker used a fabricated confession to charge a mentally retarded African American man (Floyd Brown) with murder (and no physical evidence linking Brown to the crime), and then had him incarcerated for fourteen years without a trial. Mr. Nifong, on the other hand worked for 27 years as a North Carolina state prosecutor under the principle of "equal justice for all." An honorable, Christian family man, he was recommended to fill the Durham district attorney position because of his stellar reputation. However, because Mr. Nifong did not abide by Duke University’s game plan, and proceeded to charge three Duke athletes from families of wealth, status, and privilege, he has been unjustly and severely persecuted and punished by the attorney general and others in order to send a message to other prosecutors.

The message that the state wants to send to its prosecutors is that the state will go out of its way to protect them as long as they follow the "Selective Justice Tenet." The most recent example is the extreme measures undertaken to shield Wilson Assistant District Attorney Bill Wolfe from a "prosecutorial misconduct" complaint lodged with the State Bar by the NAACP. Despite the current financial crisis that has consumed the nation and this state, no one in the state’s justice department or media (including the News & Observer) is concerned about taxpayer money that is being wasted (in the hiring of private sector prosecutor David McFadyen) to vilify the hero James Arthur Johnson. The News & Observer will not even speak up about how the family and friends of Brittany Willis reneged on the $20,000.00 reward that James Johnson earned by leading Wilson police to the perpetrator, who has confessed. James Johnson was wrongly incarcerated for 39 months, and yet he has not been proclaimed "innocent" by the attorney general. Governor Mike Easley has no problem with spending nine million dollars ($9,000,000.00) for a new jet for the state, but yet he refuses to pay a paltry $20,000.00 per year for the wrongly incarcerated disenfranchised, "underprivileged" and people of color.

The problems with the justice system of North Carolina emanate from its tenet of "selective justice based on Class and Color" and at the heart of the injustice is the horrendous treatment of Mike Nifong. The Committee on Justice for Mike Nifong believes that the state of North Carolina should be held accountable for its errors and that at the minimum, Mr. Nifong’s license to practice law in the state of North Carolina should be re-instated.

For some time I have been trying to find out what view the editorial staff of the News & Observer has regarding the aforementioned issues. They have essentially elected to remain silent and ignore me, but by doing so, they are making a mockery of their pledge to be "the tocsin and to devote itself to the policies of equality and justice to the underprivileged."

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