Monday, November 15, 2010

A Black Life is Still Pretty Cheap

English statesman William Gladstone said "Justice delayed is justice denied." And I think this is probably true in the great majority of cases. But for 77-year-old James Flowler, it's justice that he is finally getting punished.

A former Alabama state trooper, he fatally shot Jimmie Lee Jackson, a black man, more than 45 years ago in Selma, Alabama. (At the time, killing a black person in the South was probably not much more serious than killing a dog. Whites brought to trial for these kinds of crimes were invariably found innocent. And many times charges were not filed at all.) According to witnesses, Jackson was trying to protect his mother and grandfather, both of whom had been previously clubbed by the police in Marion, Alabama, and Fowler shot him in the stomach. He died eight days later. Fowler claimed that Jackson was going for his gun. It was self defense, he said. (Of course.) The killing gave rise subsequently to Bloody Sunday, when a large contingent of state police with clubs, gas, and horses prevented a march by protesters, led by Dr. Martin Luther King. A number of protesters were injured, and film of the police whaling into the crowd was shown nationwide. This outrage was probably the turning point of the civil rights struggle.

At the time there were no charges filed. Hardly a surprise. The case wasn't resurrected until 2007 . . . by a black D.A.

So what did this murderer get? He plead to second-degree manslaughter and received a six-month sentence in his hometown jail house. Oh, and he said he was sorry.
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