"Negro" Justice: Erasing Breonna and Emmett and All the Rest

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Louisville honors Breonna Taylor. Photo by Darron Cummings. Front photo by AP

Protests continue against Louisville's grotesque decision to deny justice to Breonna Tayor while affording it to her (white) neighbors' apartment walls in an indictment that, after 194 days of angry demands to Say Her Name, shockingly doesn't even mention her name. "That grand jury literally erased Breonna Tayor," wrote Charles Blow. "The fact that an innocent black woman was killed didn’t merit action/charges. What mattered was that other people *could* have been killed. It’s as if she was never there, like she never lived." The infamous indictment against former cop Brett Hankison charged him with three counts of "wanton endangerment" for "blindly" firing into an adjacent apartment - but not for firing into a sleeping black woman's body - during the fatal shooting that began with the botched serving of a drug warrant. Incomprehensibly, except when you recall this happened in America, there were no charges against Det. Myles Cosgrove or Sgt. John Mattingly, the other two officers who fired 32 shots into Taylor's apartment, including six that killed her, because under our so-called justice system it was only the bullets that didn't go into Breonna that were problematic. Hankison, also the only cop fired, deserves what he got and then some: His ugly history includes a "poor attitude," at least three violations of the police Professional Standards Unit, a federal lawsuit against him for planting drugs in "a vendetta," and multiple charges of sexual assault and misconduct. But the stunning failure to charge his fellow-murderers offers more grim confirmation that black lives still don't matter when "the whole damn system is guilty as hell."

"'Negro Justice," noted an FBI report years ago, was "an unwritten, de facto, separate legal system where the gravity of the crime was determined in large part by its impact on whites," resulting in a black community with "almost no recourse" when they were victims of crimes by whites. Among the racist atrocities the report referenced was the 1955 kidnapping, pistol-whipping, torture and murder - by shooting him in the head, wrapping barbed wire around his neck, hooking the wire to a cotton gin fan and dumping it/him in a river - of 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Money, Mississippi. Local good ole boys Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were quickly arrested; their trial, before a jury of 12 white men, began on Sept 19. Five days later, despite several eye witnesses and much damning evidence, and after deliberating just over an hour - said one juror, "If we hadn't stopped to drink pop, it wouldn't have took that long" - the jury acquitted them on Sept. 23 - the same date, 65 years later, a Louisville grand jury declined to charge anyone for Breonna Taylor's death. A photo shows a jubilant Bryant and Milam celebrating; they were never held accountable, and a 2017 book revealed the woman had recanted her testimony against Till. "It's not who killed him," reads a note on a now-defaced plaque to Till. "It's what killed him." Till's prescient mother Mamie Bradley, who could only identify her son's mutilated body by a ring he wore, famously insisted on an open casket at his Chicago funeral so people "could see what they did to him." Unless an example was made of his lynchers, she told reporters, "It won't be safe for a Negro to walk the streets anywhere in America." She should have added, "to sleep."

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Celebrating getting away with murder 65 years ago, just like today.

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Louisville. Photo by John Minchillo

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Louisville hears the news. Photo by Darron Cummings

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