The Big Black Man

My nephews are tall, handsome, smart and black. My nephews are tall, handsome, smart and white. We are a multiracial family. All of my nephews have to navigate being young men in this crazy world, but some more than others have to worry about profiling, rogue cops, corrupt courts. That is why Ashley Todd’s lie is so dangerous. Too many innocent black men have been picked up, tried and convicted, to advance someone’s career or political agenda.

Here’s a good post from the Washington Monthly, read it all, it’s worth it…

I’d like to give a shout-out to the Pittsburgh police. I know nothing about the officers who worked this case, but it seems unlikely that they are all Democrats, all Republicans, or all any political anything. They are professionals, and they did their jobs. If they hadn’t, some tall black man who was just going to the store or taking a walk could have ended up in jail.

Because the police did their jobs, some innocent man, somewhere, will get to enjoy the rest of his life. No one will ever know which tall black man would ever have been wrongfully arrested, or whose life might have been ruined, not even the man himself. But he’s out there somewhere, and while he owes his close call to Ashley Todd’s racism, he owes his escape to the Pittsburgh police. Had it not been for them, ten years from now the Pittsburgh papers might have had occasion to write a story like this:

“A decade after he was cleared as a suspect in one of Boston’s most notorious crimes, William Bennett is still very angry.

In autumn of 1989, the ex-convict was named a suspect in the killing of Carol DiMaiti Stuart, a pregnant, suburban white woman shot, allegedly by a black man, in what looked like a random street robbery. Bennett’s arrest seemed to solve a high-profile murder case, quieting an outraged city whose leaders promised swift justice. But when suspicion shifted to the husband, Charles Stuart, Bennett went from cold-blooded murder suspect to a symbol of police abuse and Boston’s lingering racial divide.

Yesterday, in a rare interview, Bennett told the Globe the case still haunts him. He blames it for his mother’s premature death and frayed family ties. And he refuses to hide his frustration.

“I don’t trust anybody. I barely trust myself,” said Bennett, now 50. “The police falsely pinned a crime on me once and they can do it again.

“I have no faith in the law enforcement and I don’t like cops,” said Bennett, who does kitchen work on Newbury Street for a food service company. “Nothing has changed. You still have those same racist cops on the police force.”” (Boston Globe, 4/6/2000.)

Ashley Todd will have to face the consequences of filing a false charge, but her lie damaged more than herself, it brought up all too recent injustices that have not been remedied, and if she had not been found out, her lie would have been used to smear the candidate who happens to be black.

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3 responses

  1. When I first read of the case,it sounded weird,and when I saw her face it looked staged from the neatness of the “scar’and the fact that it looked like she did it in a mirror.
    No ATM mugger was going to take all that time to read her bumper sticker and then carefully cut a letter in her face.All that exposure to the ATM camera?Give me a break.ATM muggers grab the money fast and run like hell.
    I guess my 26 years in law enforcement made me wary right off the bat.
    I didn’t notice the McCain campaign try to capitalize on the story either.
    Remember the Susan Smith case from years ago when she killed her children and rolled her car into a lake?She claimed a Black man had carjacked her.
    The County Sheriff put out a drawing of the “suspect” from a side view only-any cop with half a brain knew that was not meant to be taken seriously with no frontal drawing.
    It turned out she was a suspect from the get go.
    Jesse Jackson,who I have no use for, even commented that the Sheriff was doing all he could to break her story while trying to avoid a “dragnet” for the mythical suspect and that he coordinated with civil rights advocates throughout.
    There have also been a few staged “anti-Black” grafitti/vandalism incidents,one in the high rise in Pawtucket.

  2. The Pittsburg Post-Gazette has coverage that shows the McCain campaign was trying to run with it even as the story was falling apart. It was low-level staffers, but that doesn’t speak well of the organization.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08299/922849-53.stm

    There are many examples of disturbed people trying to get attention this way, we should all know by now. Years ago a white guy who was anticipating a fight with another white guy said he would tell the police ‘a couple of black guys did it.’ I have no idea why.

  3. oops, it turned out Sarah Palin and John McCain called Ashley Todd to express their sympathy. I hope they will have enough sympathy left to help ensure that their former volunteer has access to mental health treatment. Really. If she doesn’t have insurance she could be in a bad way.

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