Movie: Just Mercy

This movie is based on a true story. It is about Bryan Stevenson, a black Harvard-educated lawyer, who came down South to Alabama to offer legal representation to death row inmates. He got involved in multiple cases, the most notable of which was the case of Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian. Johnny D was charged and convicted of murder of a 18-year-old white woman. The charge and conviction was based entirely on a testimony of a convicted felon, who was coerced to provide false testimony. There was no hard evidence presented to tie Johnny D to the murder. There were multiple witnesses who weren’t presented in court.

In light of what is happening in the US, the movie adds to the voice that sounds increasingly louder across the country. There was, is and has been racism against minorities, or black people. It’s unfathomable to think that we are still dealing with this issue after achieving numerous technological advances. Think about it. We just sent people to the space in a spaceship built by a private entity. We can call anybody on Earth now, with video, for free through a litany of apps such as Messenger, Whatsapp, Viber, Instagram, iMessage. We can order everything we need to home without even setting foot out of our apartments. Yet, the racism is still raging on.

A few days ago, I blogged about “qualified immunity” and the protection that the Supreme Court seems to grant the police all the time. A lot of cases that Bryan Stevenson helped reversed and dropped in real life were because of the judicial system and the decisions by the courts. If the Supreme Court doesn’t drop the “qualified immunity” doctrine, what hope could there be for the victims?

Anyway, the movie is free and available on all digital streaming services for the month of June. I thank all that are involved in the production and distribution of the movie for bringing an important message to the screens and letting us view it for free in June. If you have some time, please do watch and share it #BLM

What is happening in front of our eyes? Absolute madness

In this entry, I want to provide you with what I have encountered so far during the last several days of absolute madness and chaos. My intention is to offer evidence of some perspectives that are floating around so that you can make your own judgement

Police brutality

First and foremost, you may want to look at the video of George Floyd being arrested and killed by four policemen. It’s tragic and horrifying, but it shows the worst of the abuse of power from the police. Here is another incident when they kicked a powerless girl

Protesters tried to protect properties from looting

There are real peaceful protests, not just the violent ones that seem to attract more attention

There is a population among police who decided to join the protest

There are white people who compassionately and bravely stepped up to help their black brothers and sisters

There are also legitimate and terrible looters

There are also cooler heads

In the process, the police attacked the press and the First Amendment Right

I am sure there are other incidents that back up each of these perspectives or bring out new vantage points from which you can look at this whole chaos. These are multiple separate issues, each of which deserves its own investigation, national discussion and dramatic overhaul of what is currently in place. However, they are currently lumped into one confusing mess to muddy the waters. You can absolutely call for justice for George Floyd and other victims, and demand racial equality while absolutely condemning the looting that some terrible individuals carried out. The two are mutually exclusive. Just like you can appreciate the job of the police and justly call out the brutality whose frequency is so high that you can’t call it “a few bad apples” any more. Like a friend of mine from Belgium said, no one ever said this about plane crashes: well it crashed, but it’s one bad apple. Indeed, no one ever.

I hope these are helpful to you while you are processing the whole chaos unfolding in front of us.

Criminal Justice Reform as The Main Issue for a Presidential run

I was very disturbed by the sentence imposed on Paul Manafort. 7 years in total for all the crimes he committed, even though the guidelines indicate that the sentence could be lengthened for another 10 years. I am not implying anything beyond the sentence for Manafort. Regardless of your political view, just put that aside and think about what he did to enrich himself at the expense of the country and what the law stands for. Would you still think the sentence was justified? Especially when there is no lack of cases when folks got longer sentences for “crimes” far less?

Or this case: https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/30/us/detroit-man-wrongfully-excused-of-murder-released-trnd/index.html. You probably will find more examples on the failures of America’s criminal justice systems, but you should get my point. There are so many, especially the poor and the under-privileged, that have to suffer from the inadequacy of the criminal justice system.

I strongly believe that we only live once. The limited years we have on this year are so precious that reading about folks spending years behind bars for trivial crimes or even crimes they didn’t commit really bugs me.

I am not a policy person or a politician. I don’t have an answer or a policy outlined in details, but to be frank, it’s not my job. The folks in Washington DC have the experience and an army of aides with relevant knowledge and experience to do the job. I would love to see criminal justice reforms as the central issue for the 2020 race. I hope that next year, a candidate, regardless of political parties, will run on this issue and one day no one will have to waste their lives unjustly. I hope that a candidate will actually put the interests of the whole country above all else. Even if the person doesn’t succeed, running on criminal justice reforms will bring so much more attention and conversation to the issue and who knows what that would be able to do later on?

I have written about my fondness of the show Madam Secretary before, but in this clip, the Secretary decided against the appeal of popular like jobs and her advisor’s recommendation so that she would run on criminal justice reforms. Let’s make it true America. Please.