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Lynching as a Misdemeanor

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    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    Four white San Jose State University students who assaulted a Black teenager for nearly two months have been charged only with misdemeanors, when their crimes actually constitute “felonious battery, terroristic threats, and kidnapping.” The corporate media portrayed the “racist assaults and threats of lynching as nothing more than white rites of adolescent passage” – like “hazing” and “bullying.”


    Lynching as a Misdemeanor

    by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

    White society is incapable of acknowledging – or even perceiving, on the cognitive level – the violence that it daily perpetrates against Blacks.”

    A 17-year-old Black student is set upon by four white males that inhabit the same suite of rooms on a college campus. Over a period of almost two months, his tormentors force him into a closet and twice fasten a “U” shaped bicycle lock around his neck, once chaining him for at least ten minutes and bruising his lip in the attack. The whole time, the perpetrators prominently display a Confederate flag, a board scrawled with the word “nigger,” and a photo of Adolph Hitler, the mass exterminator of “lesser species” of humanity, while verbally assaulting the victim with racial slurs, calling him “three-fifths” and “fraction” to dramatize their view that he is nothing but a slave to whites. The victim would sometimes barricade himself in his room to escape the assaults.

    The initial police report describes the assaults as “hazing.” CNN insists on calling the prolonged attacks a form of “bullying.” Journalists refer to “three-fifths” and “fraction” as the victim’s “nicknames.” Ultimately, the four whites are charged only with a misdemeanor hate crime and simple battery, for which they face a maximum of one year in county jail and possible fines.

    The criminal offenses committed against the unnamed victim at San Jose State University should, under California and federal law, constitute felonious battery, terroristic threats (which, under California Penal Code section 422, can be charged whether or not the person making the threat has the ability to carry out the threat or even intended to carry out the threat), and, if the police were serious about deterring such atrocities, kidnapping. If vigorously prosecuted in the penal dystopia that California has become, the four white boys would emerge from prison as middle-aged men, covered in Aryan Nation tattoos. But that’s not going to happen, because these are the children of a white society that is incapable of acknowledging – or even perceiving, on the cognitive level – the violence that it daily perpetrates against Blacks.

    Black students and the local NAACP made the same point in a demonstration beneath the 22-foot statue commemorating Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ “Black Power” salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. "The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin," said the Rev. Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP. But, there is no Black Power on San Jose State’s campus. At just three percent of the student body, there is hardly a Black presence.

    Qayoumi has assimilated the values of his adopted country.”

    African American enrollment was reduced by one back in 2008, when Gregory Johnson’s body was discovered in the basement of the Sigma Chi fraternity house. The police ruled it a suicide by hanging, despite the wound in the back of his head. “He died like a dog,” said Johnson’s tearful mother, Denise, holding pictures of her son as students consoled her at the demonstration.

    University President Mohammad Qayoumi, who had initially failed to even suspend the white supremacist assailants, presented words of contrition for his cognitive dysfunction. “By failing to recognize the meaning of a Confederate flag, intervene earlier to stop the abuse, or impose sanctions as soon as the gravity of the behavior became clear, we failed him. I failed him.”

    Born in Kabul, Afghanistan, Qayoumi has assimilated the values of his adopted country. White supremacy oozes from the digital pores of Atlanta-based CNN, which peppered its coverage of the San Jose assault with links from an article on “bullying” that featured a photo of young white actresses from the 2004 movie Mean Girls: Are we too quick to cry 'bully'?, When friends become bullies and Bullying among boys easily dismissed? For CNN, racist assaults and threats of lynching are nothing more than white rites of adolescent passage – like “hazing,” the term used by Raw Story, the Los Angeles Times (“NAACP seeks harsher charges in San Jose racial hazing case”) and the San Jose police, themselves, to describe the crime.

    White America invented lynching as a broad category of practices inextricably entwined with the peculiar institutions of U.S. chattel slavery and Jim Crow. There are as many variations on the tree-and-rope motif as racist minds can imagine. Lynching is not a punishment for any defined infraction other than the race of the victim. It is a weapon of racist oppression, which can be unleashed for the most whimsical of reasons, or for no purpose other than to terrify the targeted population. Lynching is white supremacist violence, in all its purposeful manifestations – judicial and extrajudicial. It is endemic to the white supremacist USA.

    Lynching is not a punishment for any defined infraction other than the race of the victim.”

    The United States has never defined lynching, much less outlawed it – although the U.S. Senate apologized by voice vote, in 2005, for failing to pass an anti-lynching law “when it was most needed.”

    Legal definitions of crime are rooted in the intent of the perpetrator. George Zimmerman lynched Trayvon Martin as part of his effort to maintain the racist social order. The police did not, initially, charge him because they shared Zimmerman’s motives. A jury eventually agreed that no lynching occurred, because Zimmerman “meant well.” They, too, were invested in preserving the racist social order.

    The prosecutor in the San Jose case defended his decision to charge the four white students with misdemeanor crimes. "While we understand the outrage of those calling for even stiffer charges in this case, the charges are not a reflection of the degree of their racism," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. "The charges are a reflection of their criminal conduct."

    Anybody who lives in the ghetto knows that police and prosecutors routinely pile on layers of escalating charges, all stemming from one discreet crime (and often charge defendants with every unsolved crime in the neighborhood). In the San Jose case, nearly two months of daily crimes that can easily and reasonably be charged as felonies were stripped down to the barest misdemeanors. The DA claims he is not allowed to prosecute people simply for being racist – which is true. But racism was the obvious motive for the white supremacist students’ physical assaults, terrorist threats, and kidnapping of the Black victim from August 20 through October 13 of this year. It is central to the crime. When the larger society dismisses or diminishes racism as an element of the crimes committed against Black people, it exposes us to an infinity of assaults.

    That’s why we have the right and duty of collective self-defense.

    BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

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    "lynching as misdemeanor" and policy

    If this were an "isolated incident" it would be an outrage that should provoke mass demonstrations.  But as incident upon incident occurs (that vigilante freak who murdered that kid in Florida (not even a "college kid"  a real kid, thirteen or fourteen) and got away with it; the shot-gun murder of a young woman in Detroit by a man who walked on a $25K fine reported on this website; the official NYPD "policy" of "stop-and-frisk" for no reason other than skin color or occasionally dangerous-looking clothes) one begins to suspect that lynching itself has become "policy."  That's how it began with the Nazis in the early thirties.  Vigilante groups beating on Jews, gays, Gypsies and communists -- legally, while the police were being paid to do the same thing.  These incidents are indeed lynchings, but maybe it's time to call out alleged "lone nut racists" for what they actually are: right-wing death squads. Once again, Blacks, and now Latinos, Muslims -- especially young-adults under 30 -- are considered "targets" for cops and wanna-be vigilante-thugs.   Do we take to the streets and scream, "No way!" before or after construction on the concentration camps begin? Something has to be done -- immediately, if not sooner.  Or nothing will be done at all.

    IMO RE Implications of This & KILLER Z's Case & Aftermath...

    These 4 white so-called 'teens' [likely really legal +18 yr old adults- since this happened on a college dorm]- should have been charged w kidnapping, a federal offense. Compare that to OJ being charged & convicted w kidnapping because a couple of guys w him pulled some guns [which IMO he most likely did NOT even know they had- telling them immediately to put their guns away], even though he never even take anyone anywhere against their will nor even lock them up in 'confinement', as he was retrieving his OWN 'Commandeered' stuff. 

    A group of almost all white women [white-woman judge, lead prosecutor & nearly all white woman jury] let KILLER Z get away w murdering Trayvon in June 2013. Since then KILLER Z's threatened 2 white women [his soon to be ex wife & a couple of weeks ago, his pregnant girl-friend he's now shacking-up w]. once w the very same gun that he gunned Trayvon down w as he punch his [ex] Father in law, & the next time w a shot gun he pointed at his pregnant girl-friend. Yet the cops covered again for KILLER Z when he threatened his [ex] wife & punched her father, but finally arrested his creepy ass when he pulled that shot-gun on his pregnant girlfriend. 

    Yet it was known, though down-played / covered-up, by the power structure IE: the lame-stream media, the cops, the white woman Judge & lead prosecutor- that KILLER Z had prior to gunning-down Trayvon, assaulted yet another white ex-girlfriend & a [white-lady?] cop, & even sexually molested his own [white?] cousin for over 10yrs! Never-the-less all those white-women involved in the case identified w 'Poor Georgie'- NOT w Trayvon's Black mom [let alone Trayvon's girlfriend Ms Jeantel]. IMO It won't be until KILLER Z murders a white woman &/or cop, likely w the same gun he used to gun Trayvon down, till they even begin to understand why & how Black folks, especially Trayvon's mom & dad, feel about how all these mainly white-women let KILLER Z walk just away 'Scott-free' from gunning-down an unarmed / non-criminal Trayvon!!! 


    A Related Topic: AlterNet last week had an excerpt from a book called: 'Women on Ice_The Surprising Rise of Methamphetamine Use Among Suburban Women' [which I renamed 'Women on Ice_Stunning Rise of Suburban {= white} Housewife Meth Addicts']. The book featured one couple- especially the wife- who's a 'soccer-mom' & under-cover meth addict who one can't tell by just looking at her, because she does NOT fit the stereotyped profile / look of a meth addict. Her husband also a so-called 'occasional' meth user. Then the article goes on to say that they in combo w their neighbors, started dealing coke out of their own home [low-key style]- to the point that so much $$$ was coming in from coke dealing, they even discussed him quitting his day job- but decided not to - to keep-up appearances & avoid attracting undue 'attention'. Obviously the coke 'clientele' of this white middle-class suburban couple ain't homeboy & home-girl from either the 'Hood' &/or Barrio. 

    I also know there's a similar scenario RE heroin & white middle-class suburbanites [along w meth & coke]. Yet there are over 1.5 million Black & Brown men & women [& even teens] locked up in the US' Criminalized {in}Justice System / Prison Industrial Complex, mainly for non-violent drug offenses [mainly involving simple possession of marijuana- FYI: far more whites smoke pot than do Black & Brown people]. Yet they used Trayvon's pot use to demonize him & justify KILLER Z gunning him down. PLUS Because that young sister in Detroit, Renisha McBride, had apparently been drinking before she had that non-fatal car accident, where she went to a white guy's house asking for help & he responded by taking his Shot-Gun & BLOWING HER FACE OFF- According the main-stream [= most white folks], this makes HER to BLAME for this racist northern suburbanite BLOWING HER AWAY [+85% of DUI offenders in the US are white]!!! 

    no surprise

    GZ goes to jail for simply threatening a couple sleazy jerk white gals (you have to be a sleazy jerk to pal around with the likes of gz) but NOT for stalking, accosting, & murdering a decent young black man, thanks to the hateful collusion of a bunch of greazy supremacist-minded white gals (the white-gal jury, judge, & prosecutor). But let a body (even a racist white dude) even grimace at a white gal and everybody gets their draws all in a bunch without any prodding or pressure to take action. It took such prodding & pressure to make that black-gal D.A. in Michigan get her ass in gear about releasing the name of and charging the white dude who shot and killed the black girl for knocking on his door. If this white dude gets a bunch a white gals for his trial, then he'll be home free----literally!



    Lynching Misdemeanor

    I like to think I'm a man of peace who also embraces the beliefs Malcolm X helped promote when he said that, as a man of peace, he would not turn his cheeck to any man's act of violence.  I also abhor gun violence but would never advocate repeal of the 2nd amendment because I may have to turn to it for defense some day in the not so distant future. The anger I suppress after reading the experiences of too many Black and Latino17 year olds victimized by racism, becomes harder to contain and constructively channel as white supremacism appears to be regaining silent acceptance through a quality of white denial ready to use language and symbols to defend their complicity.  The U.S. denial of virulent white racism is reminiscent of the willful ignorance Germans practiced so well while Jews were being trucked to concentration camps, experimented on, and methodically exterminated.  Sure, there were good Germans with a moral compass and compative response to Nazism - but they were the exception not the rule.  Since I am not willing to confront unequal force against racist oppression, and have no desire to convert a racist, or convince their enablers to think differently, collective self-defense is a viable strategy that needs to be implemented with a pre-emptive model of resistance. Just keep the Sharptons and pastors of the country out of it. 

    U.S. denial of racist mayhem

    U.S. denial of racist mayhem is reminiscent of the smug, willful ignorance/obliviousness of 18th-, 19th-, & 20th-century white 'mericans while countless Native peoples and blacks were slaughtered and tortured in every way imaginable; of 19th- & 20th-century brits & frenchies while millions of Blacks and Indians (india) were slaughtered & tortured; and of 20th- & 21st-century zionist jews while countless Palestinians (and more recently Blacks) have been slaughtered, tortured, or terrorized. What Germans did for few yrs pales in comparison to the atrocities perpetrated by Spaniards, americans, Brits, French, and zionist jews over decades, if not centuries.