The Prosecutor – The Most Powerful Position in the Criminal Justice System

by Randall Hill

Next month, Kimberly Gardner, will become St. Louis' first black prosecutor and the most powerful person in the City of St. Louis criminal justice system. Ms. Gardner will become a member of a very exclusive club, out of more than 2,300 elected prosecutors nationwide, only a few dozen are African-American

Having the right black prosecutor can make a tremendous difference how fairly justice is administered and how injustice is resisted. The bizarre, half-hearted grand jury presentation conducted by the white prosecutor in Michael Brown’s death, versus Marilyn Mosby’s vigorous pursuit of indictments in the case of Freddie Gray demonstrate the potential difference. Jennifer Joyce waiting more than four year to prosecute former police office Jason Stockley and only did so after a video surfaced even though the city reach a wrongful death settlement with the victim's family.

However, Ms. Gardner doesn't get a pass just because she's black. Black folks are well aware there are those among us that will sell us out for opportunity. As Phillip Agnew, with Dream Defenders stated during the PBS special "America After Ferguson

"It's not a matter of just having a representative … that looks like you, they've got to come from the community, know the issues of the community, and then it's folks in the community that got to remind them every day that we pay your bills and where watching every single day to ensure that the platform on which we elected you on is followed and defend you when those people who seek to calibrate the system and right the system as it's been built seek to come after your for that office" 

Make no mistake, if Ms. Gardner proves to be a fair prosecutor, there will certainly be those that will attempt to distort her statements, vilify her actions and generally discredit her. There is a private prison system that stands to lose millions of dollars under a non-oppressive system. 

Powers of the Prosecutor

Robert H. Jackson, Attorney General of the United States, delivered an address during the second annual conference of united states attorneys on April 1, 1940 in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice Building in Washington, D. C. 

The speech Jackson gave demonstates the power of prosecutors. Even though he was addressing federal prosecutors, local and state prosecutors hold a similar type of power that can devastate lives.

The Federal Prosecutor

The prosecutor has more control over life, liberty, and reputation than any other person in America. His discretion is tremendous. He can have citizens investigated and, if he is that kind of person, he can have this done to the tune of public statements and veiled or unveiled intimations. Or the prosecutor may choose a more subtle course and simply have a citizen's friends interviewed.

The prosecutor can order arrests, present cases to the grand jury in secret session, and on the basis of his one-sided presentation of the facts, can cause the citizen to be indicted and held for trial. He may dismiss the case before trial, in which case the defense never has a chance to be heard. Or he may go on with a public trial. If he obtains a conviction, the prosecutor can still make recommendations as to sentence, as to whether the prisoner should get probation or a suspended sentence, and after he is put away, as to whether he is a fit subject for parole. While the prosecutor at his best is one of the most beneficent forces in our society, when he acts from malice' or other base motives, he is one of the worst.

These powers have been granted to our law-enforcement agencies because it seems necessary that such a power to prosecute be lodged somewhere. This authority has been granted by people who really wanted the right thing done – wanted crime eliminated – but also wanted the best in our American traditions preserved.

Because of this immense power to strike at citizens, not with mere individual strength, but with all the force of government itself, the post of Federal District Attorney from the very beginning has been safeguarded by presidential appointment, requiring confirmation of the Senate of the United States. You are thus required to win an expression of confidence in your character by both the legislative and the executive branches of the government before assuming the responsibilities of a federal prosecutor.

Your responsibility in your several districts for law enforcement and for its methods cannot be wholly surrendered to Washington, and ought not to be assumed by a centralized Department of Justice. It is an unusual and rare instance in which the local District Attorney should be superseded in the handling of litigation, except where he requests help of Washington. It is also clear that with his knowledge of local sentiment and opinion, his contact with and intimate knowledge of the views of the court, and his acquaintance with the feelings of the group from which jurors are drawn, it is an unusual case in which his judgment should be overruled.

Experience, however, has demonstrated that some measure of centralized control is necessary. In the absence of it different district attorneys were striving for different interpretations or an applications of an Act, or were pursuing different conceptions of policy. Also, to put it mildly, there were differences in the degree of diligence and zeal in different districts. To promote uniformlty of policy and action, to establish some standards of performance, and to make available specialized help, some degree of centralized administration was found necessary. 

Our problem, of course, is to balance these opposing considerations. I desire to avoid any lessening of the prestige and influence of the district attorneys in their districts. At the same time we must proceed in all districts with that uniformity of policy which is necessary to the prestige of federal law.

Nothing better ean come out of this meeting of law enforcement officers than a rededication to the spirit of fair play and decency that should animate the federal prosecutor. Your positions are of such independence and importance that while you are being diligent, strict, and vigorous in law enforcement you can also afford to be just.

Although the government technically loses its case, it has really won if justice has been done. The lawyer in public office is justified in seeking to leave behind him a good record. But he must remember that his most alert and severe, but just, judges will be the members of his own profession, and that lawyers rest their good opinion of each other not merely on results accomplished but on the quality of the performance. Reputation has been called "the shadow cast by one's daily life." Any prosecutor who risks his day-to-day professional name for fair dealing to build up statistics of success has a perverted sense of practical values, as well as defects of character. Whether one seeks promotion to a judgeship, as many prosecutors rightly do, or whether he returns to private practice, he can have no better asset than to have his profession recognize that his attitude toward those who feel his power has been dispassionate, reasonable and just.

The federal prosecutor has now been probibited from engaging in political activities. I am convinced that a good-faith acceptance of the spirit and letter of that doctrine will relieve many district attorneys from the embarrassment of what have heretofore been regarded as legitimate expectations of political service. There can also be no doubt that to be closely identified with the intrigue, the money raising, and the machinery of a particular party or faction may present a prosecuting officer with embarrassing alignments and associations. I think the Hatch Act should be utilized by federal prosecutors as a protection against demands on their time and their prestige to participate in the operation of the machinery of practical politics.

There is a most important reason why the prosecutor should have, as nearly as possible, a detached and impartial view of all groups in his community. Law enforcement is not automatic. It isn't blind. One of the greatest difficulties of the position of prosecutor is that he must pick his cases, because no prosecutor can even investigate all of the cases in which he receives complaints. If the Department of Justice were to make even a pretense of reaching every probable violation of federal law, ten times its present staff would be inadequate. We know that no local police force can strictly enforce the traffic laws, or it would arrest half the driving population on any given morning. What every prosecutor is practically required to do is to select the cases for prosecution and to select those in which the offense is the most flagrant, the public harm the greatest, and the proof the most certain.

If the prosecutor is obliged to choose his cases, it follows that he can choose his defendants. Therein is the most dangerous power of the prosecutor: that he will pick people that he thinks he should get, rather than pick cases that need to be prosecuted. With the law books filled with a great assortment of crimes, a prosecutor, stands a fair chance of finding at least a technical violation of some act on the part of almost anyone. In such a case, it is not a question of discovering the commission of a crime and then looking for the man who has committed it, it is a question of picking the man and then searching the law books, or putting investigators to work, to pin some offense on him. It is in this realm ­in which the prosecutor picks some person whom he dislikes or desires to embarrass, or selects some group of unpopular persons and then looks for an offense, that the greatest danger of abuse of prosecuting power lies. It is here that law enforcement becomes personal, and the real crime becomes that of being unpopular with the predominant or governing group, being attached to the wrong political views, or being personally obnoxious to or in the way of the prosecutor himself.

In times of fear or hysteria political, racial, religious, social, and economic groups, often from the best of motives, cry for the scalps of individuals or groups because they do not like their views. Particularly do we need to be dispassionate and courageous in those cases which deal with so-called "subversive activities." They are dangerous to civil liberty because the prosecutor has no definite standards to determine what constitutes a "subversive activity," such as we have for murder or larceny. Activities which seem benevolent and helpful to wage earners, persons on relief, or those who are disadvantaged in the struggle for existence may be regarded as "subversive" by those whose property interests might be burdened or affected thereby. Those who are in office are apt to regard as "subversive" the activities of any of those who would bring about a change of administration. Some of our soundest constitutional doctrines were once punished as subversive. We must not forget that it was not so long ago that both the term "Republican" and the term "Democrat" were epithets with sinister meaning to denote persons of radical tendencies that were "subversive" of the order of things then dominant. 

In the enforcement of laws which protect our national integrity and existence, we should prosecute any and every act of violation, but only overt acts, not the expression of opinion, or activities such as the holding of meetings, petitioning of Congress, or dissemination of news or opinions. Only by extreme care can we protect the spirit as well as the letter of our civil liberties, and to do so is a responsibility of the federal prosecutor.

Another delicate task is to distinguish between the federal and the local in law-eaforcement activities. We must bear in mind that we are concerned only with the prosecution of acts which the Congress has made federal offenses. Those acts we should prosecute regardless of local sentiment, regardless of whether it exposr lax local enforcement, regardless
of whether it makes or breaks local politicians. 

But outside of federal law each locality has the right under our system of government to fix its own standards of law enforcement and of morals. And the moral climate of the United states is as varied as its physical climate. For example, some states legalize and permit gambling, some states prohibit it legislatively and protect it administratively, and some try to prohibit it entirely. The same variation of attitudes towards other law-enforcement problems exists. The federal government could not enforce one kind of law in one place and another kind elsewhere. It could hardly adopt strict standards for loose states or loose standards for strict states without doing violence to local sentiment. In spite of the temptation to divert our power to local conditions where they have become offensive to our sense of decency, the only long-term policy that will save federal justice from being discredited by entanglements with local politics is that it confine itself to strict and impartial enforcement of federal law, letting the chips fall in the community where they may. Just as there should be no permitting of local considerations to stop federal enforcement, so there should be no striving to enlarge our power over local affairs and no use of federal prosecutions to exert an indirect influence that would be unlawful if exerted directly.

The qualities of a good prosecutor are as elusive and as impossible to define as those which mark a gentleman. And those who need to be told would not understand it anyvvay. A sensitiveness to fair play and sportsmanship is perhaps the best protection against the abuse of power, and the citizen's safety lies in the prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, who seeks truth and not victims, who serves the law and not factional purposes, and who approaches his task with humility.

Under Cover of Christmas, Obama Establishes Controversial Anti-Propaganda Agency

Buried within the $619 billion military budget is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

by Lauren McCauley

"It owns all these not-at-all-important laws are smuggled into NDAAs that are signed on Christmas Eve with basically no public debate," wrote media critic Adam Johnson

In the final hours before the Christmas holiday weekend, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday quietly signed the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law—and buried within the $619 billion military budget (pdf) is a controversial provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms.

The Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, introduced by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, establishes the Global Engagement Center under the State Department which coordinates efforts to "recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United Sates national security interests."

Further, the law authorizes grants to non-governmental agencies to help "collect and store examples in print, online, and social media, disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda" directed at the U.S. and its allies, as well as "counter efforts by foreign entities to use disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda to influence the policies and social and political stability" of the U.S. and allied nations.

The head of the center will be appointed by the president, which likely means the first director will be chosen by President-elect Donald Trump.

The new law comes weeks before the New York billionaire assumes the presidency, amid national outrage over the spread of fake news and what many say is foreign interference in the election, both which are accused of enabling Trump's victory.

Those combined forces have already contributed to the overt policing of media critical of U.S. foreign policy, such as the problematic "fake news blacklist" recently disseminated by the Washington Post.

And for those paying attention over the holiday weekend, the creation of the a new information agency under the Propaganda Act appears to be another worrisome development.

Republished with permission under license from Commons Dreams.

School-to-Prison Pipeline Complete — New Law Makes Schoolyard Fights Felony

By Justin Gardner

Schoolyard fights now a felony.

On January 1, 2017, the state of Missouri will implement a public school policy sure to accelerate the descent into police state dystopia. See, Missouri Revised Statutes 565.054 and 565.056.

The Hazelwood School District put out a memo to parents and guardians stating that, according to Missouri statute, fights at school or on buses will be treated as felonies — which can result in up to four years of prison, fines or probation.

Dear Parents/Guardians:

We want to make you aware of a few new State Statutes that will go into effect on January 1, 2017, which may have a drastic impact on how incidents are handled in area school districts.

The way the new statue reads, if a person commits the offense of an assault in the third degree this will now be classified as a Class E Felony, rather than a misdemeanor. If he or she knowingly causes physical injury to another person (hits someone or has a fight with another individual and an injury occurs) – one or both participants may be charged with a Felony.

Gone are the days when teachers broke up fights and sent the kids home, calling the parents and perhaps suspending the kid if it was a serious incident. “School Resource Officers” or local cops now arrest the kids and, if there is any perceived injury (an arbitrary judgment), will charge them with third-degree assault – treating children cooped up in school as if they are violent adults on the streets.

What does this mean for students?

For example, if two students are fighting and one child is injured, the student who caused the injury may be charged with a felony. Student(s) who are caught fighting in school, bus or on school grounds may now be charged with a felony (no matter the age or grade level), if this assault is witnessed by one of the School Resource Officers/police officers (SRO) or if the SRO/local law enforcement officials have to intervene.”

It doesn’t stop there. Even attempts or threats to cause harm will be treated as a Class A misdemeanor, which can bring up to a year of prison time. If the assaulted person is considered a “special victim,” a Class D felony can be imposed which can mean up to seven years in prison.

The Free Thought Project has reported on numerous examples of how public schools are increasingly relying on armed cops to carry out discipline, thereby criminalizing the age-old reality of children behaving badly.

This has resulted in the increasingly prevalent phenomenon known as the “school to prison pipeline.”

The Arizona State Law Journal found that over the last three decades, there has been a marked shift in public schools to using law enforcement instead of school administrators and teachers for students violating school rules.

Approximately 260,000 students were referred to law enforcement during the 2011-2012 school year, and about 92,000 students were arrested on school property. Unsurprisingly, these numbers affect disadvantaged minority students the most.

The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) documented disturbing examples of children being subjected to law enforcement, just as a shocking video emerged of a cop brutalizing a teenage girl in the classroom for misbehaving.

”Some police actions involve alarming physical altercations, with kids subdued and handcuffed. Others may be handled without much force. But law-enforcement involvement in school discipline has routinely resulted in kids—some as young as elementary school-age—summoned to court to answer charges that they committed crimes. Frequently, charges include battery or assault in connection with schoolyard fights or disorderly conduct or disturbing the peace at school —issues that some believe should be handled by school officials, not cops.”

The worst state is Virginia, with a rate of 16 students per 1,000 being referred to law enforcement. One school had a shocking 228 students, most between 11 and 14, that were referred to cops. A 12-year-old girl was charged with obstruction of justice for clenching her fist at a cop. 11-year-old Kayleb Moon-Robinson, who is autistic, was slammed to the floor for walking out of class too early, and then was charged with felony assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.

Other shocking examples include five- and six-year-olds being handcuffed, arrested and booked into jail for throwing temper tantrums. Dress code violations, tardiness, and even passing gas have all led to students being referred to law enforcement.

CPI describes how early exposure to law enforcement and the “justice system” has a devastating impact on the mental health of children, and makes it more likely they will grow up to live all or part of their lives behind bars.

“…prosecuting kids in court for low-level accusations like disorderly conduct and battery is actually backfiring; kids become stigmatized, develop records and often disengage from school. The risk increases that they’ll progress to more serious trouble, especially if core emotional or mental-health or learning problems go unresolved or inadequately treated.”

The Arizona State Law Journal confirmed that incarceration increases delinquency and future involvement in the justice system, and “the official processing of a juvenile law violation may be the least effective means of rehabilitating juvenile offenders.”

“No one should underestimate the negative consequences associated with incarcerating a juvenile, both to our society as a whole and to the youth themselves, which is the end result of the school-to-prison pipeline. Empirical research demonstrates that incarceration produces long-term detrimental effects on youth, including reinforcement of violent attitudes and behaviors; more limited educational, employment, military, and housing opportunities; an increased likelihood of not graduating from high school; mental health concerns; and increased future involvement in the criminal justice system.”

By enacting their draconian new rules, the state of Missouri is completely ignoring science, instead, falling back on uniformed state agents with badges and guns – trained to confront the worst of society – to deal with misbehaving kids in school.

Missouri is ignoring the proven benefits of “restorative justice.”

“Thus, rather than excluding the student from the school community for misbehaving, which potentially can cause resentment, disrupt that student’s educational progress, and lead to recidivism and dropping out of school, one of the primary goals of restorative justice is to integrate the offender back into the school community as a productive member.

In essence, restorative justice practices are conflict resolution tools that involve victims, offenders, and other members of the school community. Using formal and informal conferences, or “circle groups,” victims share with offenders how they have been harmed by the offender’s behavior, offenders have opportunities to apologize to the victims, and, with the help of the victims and the other members of the school community, conference participants devise remedies for the harmful behavior.”

Instead of smart approaches like restorative justice, Missouri is set to plunge its children into a police state nightmare — guaranteeing a long-term rise in prison population and further destroying the mental health of the most vulnerable individuals.

Justin Gardner writes for, where this article first appeared. Republished here under a fair use exemption.

Corporations Rather than Governments Control the World

Billionaires have officially overthrown the government of the United States, after failing to do so by force over 80 years ago during the 1933 Business Plot conspiracy. They marched on Washington not with soldiers but with dollars. A handful of corporations and billionaires dominate almost every facet of American life including: Our food choices, entertainment,  the economy, political candidate choices and many of the laws that govern us. 

Knowing the law and having the ability to apply it in courts will become increasingly necessary as even more power and influence is gained by corporate interests. It's probably safe to assume that corporate rights will increase under a Trump administation at the expenses of individual liberties unless people learn how to defend their rights. 

The Illusion of Choice

Ten Corporations Control the majority of the food brands that we eat.

By Carl Gibson

In a real democracy, like the constitutional republic in which we supposedly live, the people choose representatives through the election process to vote for their interests in government. In an oligarchy, like the one in which we actually live, corporations buy representatives through the election process to secure benefits for themselves and rig the game further in their favor. Here’s one $300 billion example. This infographic by Luke Keohane of Move to Amend lays it all out in detail.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) sits on the Senate committees on foreign relations, armed services, and homeland security. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) sits on the Senate subcommittee for defense appropriations. Collectively, these four committees are responsible for funding arms sales and foreign aid, the continued maintenance and development of the military, oversight for government contracts, and the allocation of the budget for the defense department. Through these four committees, $300 billion in taxpayer dollars, which is roughly $2000 per taxpayer, went to private military contractors in 2013.

These defense contractors were able to secure lavish contracts only through their extensive lobbying efforts, like hiring expensive lawyers with existing connections in government. The Hogan Lovell law firm, where Chief Justice John Roberts previously worked before joining the Supreme Court, explicitly boasts on its website about its expertise in helping corporate clients worm their way through the regulatory system:

Our interdisciplinary practice brings together lawyers with the corporate, commercial and regulatory experience to assist our clients in capitalizing on opportunities and avoiding pitfalls.… we know how to guide you through procurement and regulatory minefields as well as how to protect your interests effectively in disputes and government investigations.… Our clients include some of the largest and most established aerospace, defense, and government services companies in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East.

Justice Antonin Scalia also came from a law firm that lobbies for some of the biggest military contractors. Jones Day law firm’s client list includes war profiteers like Bechtel, General Electric, and Verizon. Scalia worked in Jones Day’s Cleveland office before Ronald Reagan appointed him to the Supreme Court. So what happens when veterans of law firms specializing in corporate lobbying make it all the way to the Supreme Court?

In 2010, both Scalia and Roberts voted to establish money as speech in the Citizens United vs. FEC decision, which allowed for corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money influencing elections. And just recently, both justices voted that aggregate limits on individual campaign donations are unconstitutional in the McCutcheon vs. FEC decision. So not only can large military contractors use their influence in Congress to secure lucrative contracts, they also have influence in the courts to overturn laws that previously limited their ability to buy politicians outright.

Last Summer, when the Senate held a vote to authorize the use of military force in Syria, both John McCain and Dick Durbin voted YES. As Maplight shows, Senators McCain and Durbin received more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from defense contractors between the two of them. Moreover, members of the Senate who voted YES for military intervention in Syria received 83 percent more in campaign donations from military contractors than those who voted NO. It’s expected that through the continued support of military contractors in their re-election campaigns, McCain and Durbin will continue to use their positions in the senate to give those same military contractors more government contracts.

It isn’t hard to see that our current system of unlimited money in politics, made possible through corporate “personhood” and money as political speech, is the reason both parties in Congress are so nakedly corrupt. Until we get a constitutional amendment establishing that corporations aren’t people and money is not speech, we can expect more of the same quid-pro-quo bribery in our politics.

Article above Republished with permission from Reader Supported News

Some Corporations are more powerful than most nations


No Infamy for Black Tragedies

December 7, 2016, marked the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. News outlets all over the country showed footage from December 7, 1941, "A date which will live in infamy". People were interviewed, stories were told about that tragic day when more than 2,400 people were killed, the day was memorialized and ceremonies were held.

Tragedies involving Black people, don't usually get memorialize or "live in infamy" and instead are mostly forgotten. Dorris "Dorie" Miller, a Black Pearl Harbor hero, was mostly ignored by the white press; a tradition that continues even to this day, remember Shoshana Johnson? Dorie Miller took part in the Battle of Makin Island and was killed when a torpedo hit his ship within two years of his Pearl Harbor heroics.

My grandmother, on my father's side, had six sons serving overseas in the military during World War II, but when it came time to recognize the mother from St. Louis with the most number of sons serving in the military, a white woman with five sons was chosen.

My grandmother, according to my father, rarely went downtown, so he was excited one day when they caught the bus downtown. By the time they arrived downtown, my grandmother needed to use the restroom. While her six sons were risking their lives for this country, my grandmother was denied the simple dignity of using the restroom. My father mentioned how humilated his mother felt after being rudely told she could not use the restroom at several locations, forcing them to catch the bus home so she could use the restroom. My grandmother almost never left home after that incident according to my father. Discussing it almost brought tears to my father's eyes.

Slavery, Jim Crow, convict leasing, peonage, race riots, lynchings, medical experimentation, mass incarceration, and other racial atrocities commited against black people is not treated as a tragedy in the same way the Holocaust is treated even though Africans experience their own Holocaust in addition to slavery. 

The negative affects of slavery includes all the horrible combined legacy, both physical and mental, of actual bondage and the institutional forms of racism, and oppression that followed and still continues to this day. Black Americans have never fully been allowed to recover or progress. 

Malcolm X stated it best when he said, “If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, that’s not progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress. The progress comes from healing the wound that the blow made. They haven’t even begun to pull the knife out. They won’t even admit the knife is there.” 

In addition to bondage, slaves were prohibited from reading and so-called "free Blacks" were restricted by law, through the "Black Codes," from entering certain professions, assembling, establishing businesses, bearing arms, serving in the militias, and some states even barred free blacks from entering. 

Dispite the fact that African-Americans were treated as second class citizens and endured numerous indignities, they strongly supported, and desired to be part of, the war effor. After Japan's defeat, the United States treated their former enemy better than they did black men and women who served and risked their lives. During the occupation and reconstruction period, Billions of U.S. aid and assistance were spent rebuilding Japan.

The U.S. purchased approximately 5,800,000 acres of land, (approximately 38% of Japan's cultivated land), from wealthy landowners, under the government's reform program and resold the land to Japan's tenant farmers at extremely low prices. By 1950, three million peasants had acquired land, dismantling a power structure that the former landlords had long dominated.

The United States provided for Japan's poor farmers better than it did it's own former slaves. While the U.S. was helping the poor citizens of it's enemy secure land, Black soldiers who helped win the war were denied access to the G.I. Bill which allowed returning white soldiers to enroll in college and purchase homes. Japan is now a world economic power, while Blacks in America are still subjected to discrimination, police brutality, predatory courts, and an enormous wealth gap.

Japan is currently a world power because it received crucial aid and assistance rebuilding it's devasted cities and economy. Had the Black community received a fraction of the assistance provided to former enemies, our communities would be flourishing too. Instead of aid, the Black community was sabotaged by laws that placed artificial restrictions and provided substandard education. The government even participated in an illegal program that dumped drugs into black nieghborhoods. When Black folks became addicted to those drugs, they were treated like criminals, sentenced to harsh jail sentences and prevented from participating in society's safety nets such as student aid, food stamps and public housing.

Even as American was reflecting this Pearl Harbor day, there were those who will tell Black folks to stop whining and re-visiting the past, get over it and forget about slavery and the residual suffering because it was so long ago. We can't get over it, because it's not over. Every economic downturn or crisis effects the Black community disproportunately because of systemic exclusion of resources and opportunity.

"It's foolish to let your oppressor tell you that you should forget about the oppression that they inflicted upon you."