by: James Vrettos and Douglas Thompkins on August 13th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Two decisions on Monday August 12th have offered possible game-changing and historic opportunities to begin a swing away from the tough-on-crime policies that have dominated the American criminal justice system since at least the late 1960s. One was by a federal judge ruling that The New York City Police Department (NYPD) has been carrying on unconstitutional and systematic racial profiling in its stop and frisk policies and the other was Attorney General Holder’s unveiling that federal prosecutors would no longer invoke mandatory minimum sentence laws for low-level drug offenses.
But we should not expect these rulings and decisions to magically transform America’s political, economic and spiritual culture overnight to a non-racist world of caring, love and a society free of want and violence. For that to occur we need to sustain the momentum and begin a broad-based movement at least partly rooted in electoral politics led by the people most affected by the policies now being questioned. Our strategy begins with the realization that America’s political, economic and moral elites will be of limited use in this struggle and will have to be cajoled, pushed, educated and pressured to see and act beyond their privileged and entitled positions.
In a July 22, 2013 interview on Democracy Now, Cornel West responded to an Amy Goodman question concerning President Obama’s first public remarks following the George Zimmerman acquittal by acknowledging that they were moving, sentimental stories. Relating the case to his own life experience as an Afro-American male–”Trayvon Martin could have been me”–West commented that our president certainly made a beautiful identification with the fallen young man.