When Chris Kelly’s fellow citizens were petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the institutional racism of the decision made by his wife U.S. District Judge Nanette Laughrey. Candidate for Columbia’s mayor Chris Kelly by email mocked, belittled and insulted their calls for justice made through their petition to the high court.
Judge Laughrey had ruled that Josh Williams & Phillip Porter, black citizens, who were listening to rap music at noon on a sunny October day when they were seized at gun-point by three Columbia Police Officers who shouted “Hands Up”, “Don’t Move” and “It’s Not Worth It” as Williams & Porter wondered if they were about to be executed for being black in public. Williams & Porter were injured, handcuffed, searched, property destroyed, Williams was told he was under arrest and held for an hour before being released by these officers. Judge Laughrey held that “no arrest” had occurred but merely a reasonable detention and therefore no violation of their civil rights by these police officers. Even though there had been no recent serious crime in the area or other exception by which the law permits white citizens to be “briefly” detained in what is called a “Terry Stop“. Williams & Porter had broken no law, with the exception of the unwritten law of being black and listening to rap music in a public park. Judge Laughrey validated this unwritten law about the lesser status of black men in America and further emboldened misconduct by CPD Officers by her approval of institutional racism.
Institutional racism is defined as racism perpetrated by social and political institutions, such as schools, the courts, or the military. Unlike the racism perpetrated by individuals, institutional racism, also referred to as systemic racism, has the power to negatively affect the bulk of people belonging to a racial group. Institutional racism can be seen in areas of wealth and income, criminal justice, employment, health care, housing, education, and politics, among others.
The Attorney General’s racial disparity report of the Columbia Police Department reflects a troubling institutional bias in our police department.
A contextual analysis institutional racism by the courts is provided by University of California, Berkeley Law Professor Ian Haney Lopez in his articles “Institutional Racism: Judicial Conduct and a New Theory of Racial Discrimination”, 109 Yale Law Journal 1717 (1999-2000) and “Intentional Blindness”, 87 N.Y.U. Law Review (December 2012).
In our criminal justice system where whites and blacks use marijuana at nearly identical rates. But a black citizen is four times more likely to be arrested on a pot charge and once arrested nearly six times more likely to be incarcerated than his white contemporary the acceptance of institutional racism is the rule and not the exception in our justice system.
Missouri Attorney General’s Report on Racial Profiling details a long held institutional bias within the Columbia Police Department. Report
Citizens For Justice
Citizens for Justice made a two-part report about the injustice inflicted upon Josh Williams and Phillip Porter by the Columbia Police Department. An Injustice later validated by Judge Nanette Laughrey’s ruling. Part one and Part two of CFJ’s report.
CPD’s Geoff Jones was only able to recover a small portion of the officers’ audio recordings that occurred after the crucial portion of the incident raising questions if the loss was accidental or intentional.
Bishop Desmond Tutu known for his work in South Africa against Apartheid said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” Desmond Tutu
Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”
Only Chris Kelly can explain why he stood with the oppressor and against demands for justice and it is my hope that he has a satisfactory explanation.
-s- Stephen Wyse, Attorney for Josh Williams and Phillip Porter