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Black Judges Matter

Black Judges Matter

Photo courtesy of http://www.wlky.com/


By Taylor Brown
News Writer
brownta@berea.edu

Recently there has been news of an African American judge by the name of Olu Stevens being removed from a criminal case because he dismissed a 13 member all-white jury last year.
Commonwealth’s attorney by the name of Tim Wine went to the Supreme Court to ask if Stevens had the right to dismiss the jury because of lack of minorities, and has since pushed to have him removed because he was “biased”.
Of course this sparked outrage, particularly among the African American society. This country has had a history of unfair court cases when it came to people belonging to minority groups; often the jury would be composed of only white people, sometimes one or two people of minority descent, and the sentencing was often ridiculously long and did not fit the crime.

Chantelle Helm, one of the many protesters out in Louisville, Kentucky, says this during a protest in a video, “Let’s be clear! Black men and black women and black people go to jail more than anyone in this state.”
Social media exploded with hashtags such as black judges matter, black lives matter and support pages for Judge Stevens. A group of protesters, including Helm demanded a fact to face talk with Tim Wine about his decision to take Stevens off the criminal case. According to the articles found, he refused. He told the group that he “just wanted to know what the rules were.”
Jose Garcia, a sophomore here in Berea College, had this to say: “I think it is important to have diversity in the justice system because different people come from different backgrounds, and they have more perspectives and opinions. That’s important because that way you are more likely to understand what lead someone to commit a crime.”

Having diversity within the jury means that they are more likely to relate to the person being convicted, and the judgements are less likely to be too harsh or biased, which is a problem seen often when dealing with people of minority backgrounds.
Racial tensions seem to be higher now and more people are paying attention to what is going on. We have heard of the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina where the nine people died, the burnings of historical black churches, and even here in Berea we have experienced harassments from thugs driving around in trucks shouting insults to minorities and LGBT members of the college.

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