Crime and injustice
Crime in Detroit made big headlines (again) last week.
Published: January 9, 2013
There are other problems as well, ranging from what's been described as the "school-to-prison pipeline," which has to do with the increasing criminalization of wrongdoing by students, to the lack of proportionate racial representation on juries.
In regard to the latter, U.S. Judge Denise Page Hood (who came to the event with her husband, former Detroit City Council member the Rev. Nicholas Hood III), one of the many "heavy hitters" attending the forum, talked about efforts under way to determine why juries hearing cases at the federal courthouse in Detroit are, as Levy pointed out, are about 98 percent white.
It is a serious problem, both Hood and Levy agreed.
"Why is that?" asked a white audience member, saying that he was merely playing "devil's advocate."
Part of it, replied Levy, is a sense of fairness. We have different shared experiences based on race. That point was highlighted during the forum, as people talked about experiencing the kind of racial profiling evident in New York City's "stop and frisk" program, and the concern among minorities in this region that they're going to be singled out by cops when traveling through predominantly white suburbs.
"There are so many profound differences in experience along racial lines," Levy said. And those experiences affect whom jurors will tend to believe.
Also important to keep in mind, one of the forum attendees pointed out, is the issue of class. "The economic realities of this country drive everything," he observed.
Like we said, it's complicated stuff.
Certainly much more complex than Bing's simplistic "we've lost respect" analysis of Detroit's murder problem.
Acknowledging that complexity — and talking with each other, across the racial and economic barriers that separate us in order to increase understanding and awareness by broadening our perspective — is the first step toward finding a solution. Which, as Roundtable President and CEO Tom Costello indicated, is why his group is holding these monthly forums.
But that's only the first step.
As another forum attendee declared, when it comes to addressing abuses of power: "These kinds of problems we are trying to deal with don't happen in communities that are organized. Nothing will change until people organize and mobilize."
News Hits is written by Curt Guyette. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com.
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