Thursday, May 27, 2021

A Criminal Injustice

 This article by Michael Harriot at The Root: A Criminal Injustice: How a City Ignored the Rape, Murder and Terrorism of Black Women for Four Decades is a compelling read:

This is a story about a law enforcement officer in Kansas City, Kan., who elected officials, private citizens, lawmakers and fellow police officers who have [been] publicly accused of corruption, sexual assault and even murder. But this is not a story about a man. This is not a story about a police officer. This is not a story about Kansas City, a rapist, a serial killer, policing or America. This is a story about us.

The players are all-too-familiar to the Kansas defense bar, as are the stories of prosecutorial  corruption and police violence: AUSA Terra Morehead, former WyCo DA Jerome Gorman, former KCK police Chief Terry Zeigler,  and former KCK Detective Roger Golubski. Again we find that investigative journalists are doing the hard work that has been buried or abandoned by the Department of Justice or the Kansas Disciplinary Administrator. Much of this article echoes the tremendous work done by the Kansas City Star.

Harriot expounds on the facts that we already know to explain the deep racism where "white America ignored the way law enforcement officers treated Black people." For example, he retells the facts about police and prosecutors coercing false testimony from witnesses in order to convict Lamont McIntyre:

"Golubski, two detectives and Terra Morehead showed up at my door,” Niko [Quinn] told The Root. “I wasn’t home. But they told my aunt and my cousin who was living with me at the time to tell me that I need to get in touch with her. And if I did not contact her ‘sooner than later,’ she was gonna take my kids from me, and I’ll never see my kids again...That was the first threat she made. 

Harriot's survey is not limited to that one case. As one person noted, "We don't know how many Lamont McIntyre's are behind bars." Instead, "The Root has interviewed dozens of witnesses, reviewed dozens of court cases and pored over thousands of pages, uncovering one of the widest-ranging examples of state-sponsored terror against Black women this country has ever seen.He lists at least a dozen Black women who have died in Wyandotte County, and "each of these unsolved murders are connected in some way to the king of the Kansas City Police Department’s detective unit, Roger Golubski." 

The trauma to these families and to this community is impossible to fully describe or quantify. But they are Black families and a Black community, and that explains, in part, why there has been no reckoning. As of today, no law enforcement or prosecutor has been held to account for their abusive conduct or forced to explain what happened to these murdered Black women. Harriot continues:

That the most powerful white people simply chose not to care about rape, corruption and dead bodies popping up everywhere is a disconcerting thought for most people. For me, their naive astonishment is the most astonishing part. It is stunning how many people can’t believe a thing like this can happen, even knowing that things like this have always happened. According to one report, police sexually assault at least 100 women every year. The most likely reason Golubski was never arrested is also the most unsettling:

           Because his victims were Black women. 

It is clear that we cannot entrust restorative justice to prosecutors, including those who promise conviction integrity review. Federal prosecutors protect their own, including their own law enforcement. The question now is whether those in power like Governor Laura Kelly, Representative Sharice Davids, and the Kansas Supreme Court--the court that literally gives license to these prosecutors--will finally demand some answers. But they been silent so far.

-- Melody


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