Friday, February 13, 2015

Slow progress: Legacy of racism claims new victims in the U.S.

    Friday, February 13, 2015   No comments


U.S. gunman kills three young Muslims; motive disputed

A gunman who had posted anti-religious messages on Facebook and quarreled with neighbors was charged with killing three young Muslims in what police said on Wednesday was a dispute over parking and possibly a hate crime.

Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, a full-time paralegal student from Chapel Hill, was charged with first-degree murder in Tuesday's shootings around 5 p.m. two miles (three km) from the University of North Carolina campus.


The victims were newlyweds Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, a University of North Carolina dental student, and his wife Yusor Mohammad, 21, and Yusor's sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19.

All were involved in humanitarian aid programs.

Students at UNC, where Yusor Mohammad was going to join her husband as a student later this year, were gathering on Wednesday for an evening vigil and prayer service.

The suspect, in handcuffs and orange jail garb, appeared briefly on Wednesday before a Durham County judge who ordered him held without bail pending a March 4 probable cause hearing.

Police said a preliminary investigation showed the motive to be a parking dispute. They said Hicks, who has no criminal history in Chapel Hill, turned himself in and was cooperating.

The killings drew international condemnation. The shooting sparked the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter on social media with many posters assailing what they called a lack of news coverage.

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Judge Carlton Reeves: Resurrecting the Nightmarish Specter of Lynchings in Mississippi

Late one summer night in 2011 in Jackson, Mississippi, James Craig Anderson, an African-American, was set upon in a parking lot by ten white teenagers, beaten and murdered. The gruesome killing was recorded by security cameras, and all ten teenagers, now adults, have pled guilty to various charges. In their pleas they told the court that this incident was one of many trips into Jackson, which they called “Jafrica,” to beat up black people.

Yesterday in Jackson, the first three of the defendants to be sentenced in federal court received prison terms ranging from 5 to 50 years.

The three — Deryl Dedmon, Dylan Butler and John Rice — were sentenced by Federal district court judge Carlton Reeves. In his remarks from the bench, Reeves gave a unflinching account of the state’s violent past: “Mississippi has expressed its savagery in a number of ways throughout its history — slavery being the cruelest example, but a close second being Mississippi’s infatuation with lynchings.”

And he connected Anderson’s murder directly to that bloody history:

    A toxic mix of alcohol, foolishness and unadulterated hatred caused these young people to resurrect the nightmarish specter of lynchings and lynch mobs from the Mississippi we long to forget. Like the marauders of ages past, these young folk conspired, planned, and coordinated a plan of attack on certain neighborhoods in the City of Jackson for the sole purpose of harassing, terrorizing, physically assaulting and causing bodily injury to black folk. They punched and kicked them about their bodies — their heads, their faces. They prowled. They came ready to hurt. They used dangerous weapons; they targeted the weak; they recruited and encouraged others to join in the coordinated chaos; and they boasted about their shameful activity. This was a 2011 version of the Nigger hunts.

Reeves went on to contrast the state’s current criminal justice system with the past, when the system “operated with ruthless efficiency in upholding what these defendants would call WHITE POWER.”

    Today we take another step away from Mississippi’s tortured past . . . we move farther away from the abyss. . . . Mississippi has a present and a future. That present and future has promise. As demonstrated by the work of the officers within these state and federal agencies — black and white; male and female, in this Mississippi, they work together to advance the rule of law. Having learned from Mississippi’s inglorious past, these officials know that in advancing the rule of law, the criminal justice system must operate without regard to race, creed or color. This is the strongest way Mississippi can reject those notions — those ideas which brought us here today.

He closed with hopes for the victim’s mother and the defendants:

    These sentences will not bring back James Craig Anderson. . . . The Court knows that James Anderson’s mother, who is now 89 years old, lived through the horrors of the Old Mississippi, and the Court hopes that she and her family can find peace in knowing that with these sentences, in the New Mississippi, Justice is truly blind. Justice, however, will not be complete unless these defendants use the remainder of their lives to learn from this experience and fully commit to making a positive difference in the New Mississippi. And, finally, the Court wishes that the defendants also can find peace.

Reeves was appointed to the federal bench by Obama in 2010. He is the second African-American federal judge from Mississippi.

Below is his full statement, as prepared:

Ed Isr

About Ed Isr

Islamic Societies Review Editors

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