Julie, do you ever get angry?

Raw and uncut response to the white boys behind me at a play.


I went to the play, “Monster,” last week. It’s the story of a 16 year old charged with felony murder who was acting as a lookout for a robbery gone wrong. I won’t tell you the end, but I will tell you what the two white boys behind me thought (whether it was in agreement of the actual ending or not – so as not to be a spoil-alert).

“He should be charged. He’s clearly guilty.”

He was a lookout for a robbery and someone was shot unintentionally. While he was guilty to that. Did you really just say his guiltiness in a robbery should allow for a state prosecutor to charge him with felony murder as an adult at 16 years old?

I turned around and reminded them, “He was an accomplice to something. He did not commit felony murder. He was an accomplice to a robbery. People are getting higher-stakes crimes slapped on them to make others feel that justice was served. And they’re still doing it today. It’s sad.”

Silence.

Apparently they were shocked by the girl sitting in front of them who was hearing their conversation and added her two cents. I would have been too – I hate it when that happens…. no one asked you.

Yet I felt, in my soul, it was my legal duty as a fellow white person to help them see something different, then pray that they never become attorneys. They got quiet, and I realized how rude that was, but didn’t regret my decision at all. What I regretted as I walked away was not thinking quicker on my feet. What I really wanted to say was –

“He was an accomplice to a robbery. Someone died. He could be charged with intent to rob, but felony murder is a huge jump, but it sounds good to you because you will never know the experience of a false accusation against you because you are white.”

Or

“Do you know ANYONE who has been locked up for crimes done by other people while they were simply nearby and it ruined their life with felonies? Stop talking.”

Or

“Did he kill someone? Was his intent to even kill someone? You could have only rightfully charged this young man with intent to a robbery, and if we are talking about charging people based on intentions, let’s talk about our intent as a white race to not change our comfort or mindsets while inflated convictions with a lifetime of unnecessary consequences are being placed on young black men based on a judgment of their character connected with the color of their skin.”

I wish I thought quicker on my feet.

2 thoughts on “Julie, do you ever get angry?

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  1. For a number of years I used to write to a Spanish American who was serving a life sentence for a gang related murder he did not commit. Yes, this young man in question was in a gang but he had not committed this crime, on that night. The only crime he committed that night was looking like the man that did commit the crime.

    What is worse, there is DNA evidence that proves he was not there! On top of that, the killer did actually admit to, and was charged with the SAME crime. Even said my friend was innocent, that he had been alone that night. No one else was with him.
    Even with that admittance from the true criminal my friend was not released, his crime was not look at again. So two men are charged with that same crime even though only one of them was the real killer.
    I think they figured that since my friend was a gang member he would have been charged with murder eventually. Why was time releasing him when he will be back in charged with a different murder.

    I couldn’t do much from down here in Oz, but researched and printed out an application for that US “Innocence Project”. I stopped hearing from him not long after I sent the application. Heard nothing more from the jail. I would like to think they’d have contacted anyone he was writing to, not just his family, if he had committed suicide, or something happened to him.

    I’m Australian, our justice system is not as bad as the one you have up there thankfully. It still has it’s problems, I think all “justice systems” do. But here in Oz there is a focus on rehabilitation rather than just locking people up and throwing away the key.
    If I had been in American I dare say i would still be sitting in jail. Instead I had about a year and a half jail time spread out over six-seven years, give or take.

    Sorry, STILL reading your journal, still spouting my inane nonsense! Sorry Julie, I will try to be quiet now! ~waves~

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