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Judicial system's racism should bring cries of outrage

Letters to the Editor
Published October 18, 2005

Judicial system's racism should bring cries of outrage

Re: Black and white justice.

It's 3 in the morning and I haven't slept very well the last few days. I realize that my sleep deprivation has been caused by the fact that Tamara Graham is a free woman. Well, not that she is free, but that William Thornton is in jail. White woman, black man, same offense: One is free and one gets 30 years in prison!

If this doesn't stink of blatant "Jim Crow" racism, then I don't know what does. Sure, there were "different circumstances." Graham's victims were black and Thornton's victims were white. It has long been said in the black community that there are two things that will never change. One is that whites will never get the same punishment, if any, as blacks for the same crime, especially if the victims are black. The second is that there is a systematic conspiracy in this country to eliminate black males from our society, beginning with the institutionalized "weed 'em out" patterns that exist in school systems across this country. Granted, black males too often place themselves in a position to be caught in this snare, but the cases involved here show that in the year 2005, some things have not changed.

As one who participated in some of the "freedom demonstrations" of the '60s and even spent several days in a hellish jail because of it, I have often wondered why so many young black people are so angry today. After all, "We fought the fight." "Things are better now." Yes! Some things are better now, but, as justice has not been blind, I guess I have been blind to the fact that "Jim Crow" has gone underground the last 50 years. He is still alive and well, toting his lynching noose hidden in the cloak of "things are better now!"

If the voices of outrage don't rise up and make themselves heard over this, then I don't know what will wake them up. If this state has a governor, it's time for him to wake up! This needs to be fixed!

-- Dr. Leroy McCloud, St. Petersburg

Facts suggest justice was served

Re: This is justice? Oct. 15.

It comes as no surprise that the Times would try to find racism behind the "2 vastly different sentences" for drivers Tamara Graham (white) and William Thornton IV (black). However, two very major differences between their two stories must be emphasized. For one, Thornton, at 17 years old, had no driver's license. Second, his victims' families sought maximum punishment while the family of Graham's victims considered their deaths to be the result of an accident.

Taking into account the "facts" of these two cases and not simply racial "posturing," I believe the answer to your question is "Yes," this was justice!

-- Bob Lindskog, Palm Harbor

A disgraceful injustice

Re: This is justice?

As a mother of teenagers I know how easily one poor decision can lead to the next and certainly William Thornton's choices lead to a terrible tragedy. But 30 years in prison? For an accident? This is outrageous! It is cruel and unusual punishment and clearly racism when compared to the reasonable resolution of a similarly tragic situation.

It's a disgrace to do nothing to help this young man and his family. He needs someone to look into how our legal system, one we like to brag so much about around the world, could have allowed this injustice to occur.

With so many events unfolding that we can do so little about, it would be wonderful to help this young man who has been treated so unjustly.

-- Loren Buckner, Tampa

Key points to consider

Your editorial asks, "Is it justice?" and gives some of the facts in the cases of a white driver who killed two blacks, and a black driver who killed two whites. The white got off light, the black got the max. Clearly, it was unfair, or so you would have us believe.

But as I see it, there were two key points: One, both got what the victims' families wanted. And two, the black didn't have a driver's license. He was committing a crime just by being behind the wheel. She wasn't.

-- Ernest Lane, Trinity

The truth is not obvious

Re: This is justice?

The Times editorial staff ought to be ashamed of itself for running a comparison of the outcomes of two vehicular homicide cases in the manner it did. The facts and circumstances of cases such as these cannot be fairly synopsized in 100 words or so and then used to make a meaningful comparison to another case similarly synopsized.

It is quite possible that both people received just sentences, that one received a just sentence and one did not, or that neither received a just sentence. But each ought to be judged on its own merits, and with all of the facts laid out.

Your implications were obvious. The truth is not. Is this justice? The answer is not discernable from your "editorial."

-- Robert L. Wiles, Treasure Island

Keep focusing on disparities

I read the article comparing two cases of vehicular homicide. One case of a white person causing the deaths of black people, and the second case of a black person causing the death of white people and the disparity of the sentences in the two cases. The accused white defendant received probation and community service and the black defendant received a 30-year sentence.

I suspect that this is common but widely unknown to the general public. Since it is easy for most white citizens to dismiss this as an isolated case, I feel it would be beneficial for the Times to do a continuing series on this issue. This will accomplish two things. One, the public will be aware of how often this occurs, and second, the judges will be more aware that their actions are being monitored and accessed by the citizens they represent.

-- Lynn DeLellis, Clearwater

To build a lasting peace

Re: Synagogue welcomes Muslim speaker, Oct. 14.

Kudos and hats off to Ahmed Bedier, from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Rabbi David Weizman, from the Congregation Beth Shalom, for bringing two diverse groups together through respect and understanding. Such events will build a lasting peace better than all the militaries in the world.

I only wish I had been in attendance. Maybe these two gentlemen would consider hosting an event or series of forums for the general public?

-- Jack Hanel, Indian Rocks Beach

Cartoon was an insult to Christians

I have seen many so-called political cartoons in your newspaper by a vicious individual named Pat Oliphant, but his Oct. 9 effort is a slap in the face to Christians everywhere. I believe that you would be considered responsible if you stopped running (and I dislike calling them this) cartoons by this hateful, radical person.

-- Karl Maier, Brooksville

[Last modified October 18, 2005, 02:30:29]


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