What to do When There’s Not Even a Façade of Justice Anymore
Despite knowing that racism pervades our society and how that affects our justice system, there was still something that left Americans shaken after Zimmerman was found not guilty that ultimately sparked nationwide protests.
Perhaps it was the sheer clarity of the verdict’s meaning: in this country, a person can racially profile, stalk and kill a minor — and walk away free.
Just as the government and corporations attempt to hide their power, we also attempt to hide just how destructive this country has become. We tell ourselves that we can still have some trust in America’s economic, political, legislative and justice systems so we don’t have to deal with the reality — so we don’t have to recognize that there is absolutely no trust left to be had in these corrupt, murderous systems.
And so, we were all hoping that there could at least be a façade of justice, despite already knowing that putting Zimmerman in prison alone would not fix our broken justice system, end racial profiling and end the systematic racism in our country. We were hoping that the verdict would be at least be a symbol of what America stands for — even if it was just a veneer.
But the verdict illustrated, clear as day, that America doesn’t care about black people.
And recently, we are seeing firsthand that America doesn’t just not care about black people, but it doesn’t care about women, poor people, people overseas, immigrants, education, free speech or the environment either. The country openly restricts abortion access, takes away food stamps, kills home and abroad with drones, criminalizes undocumented people, closes dozens of public schools, imprisons whistleblowers and fracks up our land. Thus, any attempt by this country’s government and corporations to keep its oppressive forces hidden is quickly falling apart.
With the bandage off our wound, we remember that this national wound runs deep and we have a lot to heal. And in order to heal it, we must take justice in our own hands. That’s why protests began nationwide after the verdict was read, and then continued into the following day.
Thousands of people took to the streets in cities around the country including New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Denver and Austin. In New York, it’s estimated that 10,000 marched from Times Square to Harlem. In Los Angeles, people shut down a highway for 20 minutes.
I marched with thousands in Oakland for more than three hours. The beeps and waves we received illustrated a mutual acknowledgement that we are all not alone in our despair for our country. And together, we can turn that despair into a resistance that demands completely new political systems, because it couldn’t be clearer that ours are not working.
I’m not sure what the next step in getting justice for Trayvon will be, but I know the first step toward resistance is to get angry and stop business as usual. And that’s what thousands did on Sunday and will continue to do this week.