(The following is a reprint of a column that was written on Sept. 1, 2010. It was a prediction of the negligible results that perpetuated the necessity to march on the office of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala. It gives me no satisfaction to say, “I told you so.”)
If you have been a reader of my column, you may remember I wrote that there would be no prosecution of the three Pittsburgh police officers involved in the Jordan Miles incident. How did I arrive at that conclusion?
There was a time in my life when I was a law enforcement officer in the Allegheny County District Attorney’s office and an investigator in the Pittsburgh O.M.I department (investigating complaints against police). Some of you may recollect when there was so much enthusiasm about the federal government becoming involved that I made the statement: Be very careful because the higher you go in the law enforcement field, the Whiter it becomes.
As deplorable as the hiring of Blacks at the city level is, they have the highest percentage. Allegheny County is less, Pennsylvania State Police is less than the county and federal government agents are almost nonexistent.
If the investigators in a racial profile case are Black it does not automatically mean justice, but it may offer you a fairer chance.
American history indicates that between 1882 and 1968 that an estimated 4,742 lynchings occurred and many of them were legal lynchings. In 2010 when federal authorities contend they fail to prosecute because they can’t get a conviction it is the same as a legal lynching, because you are, in essence, denying a young Black man his day in court. In federal court—and I have been there—all of the prospective jurors were White and lived outside Allegheny County, thereby making it difficult to obtain justice. It definitely is not a jury of your peers.
The federal inaction does not preclude the Allegheny County District Attorney from prosecuting. The Justice Department says the investigation is ongoing.
It is my personal belief that even if there is a question about the police displaying their badges and stating they were police officers what about the potential charges of excessive force?
We must remind all those we support that it is not acceptable to us as a people that three policemen went to such an extreme to subdue a terrified young Black honor student and not one of you has said a word.
I constantly state that changes are going to occur only when we make them happen.
Please remember Kingsley Association.
(Louis Hop Kendrick is a weekly contributor to the Forum Page.)