More and more cases are now coming to the fore that give rise to just that conclusion.
Besides the ongoing case of Martin’s killing, there are other high-profile stories, such as that of Marcus Robinson, whose death sentence a judge in North Carolina recently commuted to life imprisonment due to racist prosecution. There is also the case of a 15-year-old black male who was beaten by two white brothers, one of whom is a member of a civil patrol.
Then there is the case of Oral Brown, the 37-year-old Lauderhill businessman whose SUV crashed through a fence at the Swap Shop in Fort Lauderdale on Oct. 15, 2001, after he suffered a seizure. He died the same day shortly after arriving at a hospital and a variety of official investigations ruled his death as accidental.
That might have been the end of the matter, except for the persistence of the Brown family, who filed a civil rights lawsuit challenging the official ruling from an autopsy, a grand jury and the Broward Sheriff’s Office that no one was criminally responsible.
The Browns’ lawsuit was dismissed by a judge but that ruling was reversed by a higher court. A second judge also dismissed the case but it is now on appeal. So the family has succeeded in more than a decade of legal action, in ensuring that Mr. Brown’s death has not been swept under the rug.
Good for them. As the case winds through the courts, some of the documents related to Mr. Brown’s death are coming to light and they paint a disturbing picture of what happened to this black man and its aftermath.
Mr. Brown died not from any injuries he may have suffered from the crash but because of actions which were taken by Broward Sheriff’s deputies and county paramedics, who hog-tied him and strapped him onto a stretcher face down.
The reports say he had to be forcibly subdued because after he was cut free of his vehicle he was dazed, violent and posed a threat to himself and others. The official ruling was that he died from “positional asphyxia,” meaning he choked to death because of the position in which he had been placed by the very people who went to the scene supposedly to help him.
The ruling of accidental death is contradicted by an internal memo written by then Fire Rescue Deputy Chief of Operations Wayne Maillard, who concluded that “certain steps could have been taken to insure his well-being during the transport to the treating facility.” As far as is known, that memo did not form part of the case files submitted to the grand jury.
Other disturbing aspects of this case involve Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander-Henning, who not only presided over the grand jury investigation into Mr. Brown’s death but was also the judge who first heard the family’s lawsuit. Instead of recusing herself, she dismissed the action and ordered the grand jury files sealed.
Now we learn that the pathologist who performed the autopsy, Dr. Linda O’Neil, is married to the then BSO sergeant who supervised the police investigation. But the BSO report identifies her in several places only by her maiden name, Linda Rush. These facts demand opening the Brown case and Gov. Rick Scott’s appointment of a special prosecutor.
Such cases, including the dozens of black boys around the country sentenced to life without the possibility of parole, must stir people of good conscience. The frequency of such events, their similarities and the depraved state of mind of each actor speak not to anecdotal ills of society but, rather, to a magnitude of race hate that has consumed our nation.
Our national tolerance for racial hatred must end. The people of America who are the good, noble people of God must rise up and declare, “America is greater than this. The end of racism is now!”