Saturday, August 11, 2018

Hank Sanders: Senate Sketches #1626 - Injustice is rolling

  Injustice. Injustice. Injustice. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters and unrighteousness like a mighty stream. No, I did not make a mistake and put “injustice” where I should have put “justice” or “unrighteousness” where I should have put “righteousness.” No, I am not talking about Biblical times when the prophet Amos lived. Injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters.

  I am not talking about far off places. I am not talking about far-off times. I am not talking about Africa, South America, Asia, etc. I am not talking about past times of slavery and segregation. I am talking about right now. I am talking about right here in Selma, Alabama.

  Back in 1973, I was convicted of assault and battery and sentenced to jail. A White man pushed my wife down and was standing over her. I jumped out of the car and hit the man, knocking him down. The man, a postal employee, got up and stabbed me in my left side. I still have kidney-related limitation from the stab. At the trial, he did not even lie about what happened. Still, he walked free while I was convicted and sentenced to jail. I appealed the conviction and all the documents disappeared. I have not found the documents to this day. Everyone – the mayor, the judge, the prosecutor, the police officers – was White. I just knew that such things would not happen in five years when African Americans held some of these positions. I was wrong on the time and wrong on the race.

  A number of things have happened during the last six or so months that reek of similar injustice. I want to share just a few examples. The first one involves a Black man who went to a church, went into the pulpit and was put out of the church. He went peacefully. Later he sent a text to his friend saying he was considering killing the pastor of the church. Months later, the friend showed the text to another friend who shared it with a member of the church, who then told the police about it. The man had not said anything to the pastor or done anything and never sent the text to him.

  The district attorney, who is Black and a member of the church, charged the man with domestic terrorism. Bail of $2.5 million was set. The district judge, who is White, allowed the outrageous bail bond to stand. It took more than a year to get the bond reduced so the man could get out of jail. After years of litigation, a circuit judge, who is White, recently dismissed the charges. The Black district attorney, at this very moment, is trying to reinstate charges of domestic terrorism.

  My wife, Faya Rose Toure, was at a polling place in Dallas County on December 12, 2018, the day Doug Jones was elected to the U.S. Senate. She had my car. A White man tore a “Vote or Die” sign off the car and threatened to kill her. To date, no warrant has been issued by the sheriff or deputy sheriff (both are White) in spite of numerous complaints.

  Some weeks ago, someone called our Selma law office multiple times. Each time they told the receptionist that they were going to kill Faya Rose Toure. Complaints were made to the Selma Police Department. The caller’s number was provided to the police. Absolutely nothing has been done about it.

  The same person also called the Z105.3 radio station several times with similar death threats. Faya does the Faya’s Fire Radio program on this station. This information was also provided to the Selma police chief, who is White. Nothing has been done about it.

  Black Selma City Councilman Sam Randolph was recently charged with “peeing in the streets” by the White Selma chief of police. The councilman vehemently denies that he did such a thing. The Selma police chief also called the councilman’s employer in Montgomery and said, “You have a fugitive working for you.” No warrant had been filed at the time. What started this development was an exchange of words between the mayor of Selma and the councilman. Both are Black. This happened in a Selma City Council meeting. The White police chief took up the disagreement and exchanged words. The police claimed the “peeing in the street episode” supposedly happened some weeks earlier. The councilman was charged and arrested.

  On July 16, 2018, Faya Rose Toure was arrested for removing a White probate judge candidate’s political signs from the public right of way. The sign was in front of the Tabernacle Baptist Church, the first church in Selma to allow a mass meeting to be held during the Voting Rights Movement in the 1960s. A church deacon, who was standing in front of the church, thanked her for moving the objectionable sign.

  The church deacon said that Tabernacle Church members objected to the political sign in front of their church, but they did not think they could remove the sign because it was on the public right of way. In fact, the City of Selma has a municipal ordinance prohibiting the placing of political candidates' signs on public rights of way. Faya Rose was also charged with eluding the police. When an officer in an unmarked car turned on his blue lights, she drove slowly several blocks until she located some people to witness the stop. Otherwise, an officer could shoot her and swear she went for a gun.

  It’s been 54 years since the 1964 Civil Rights Act became law. It’s been 53 years since the 1965 Voting Rights Act became law. It’s been 44 years since I was unjustly arrested, convicted, and jailed in Selma. A lot has changed in Selma. However, injustice is still rolling down like rivers of waters.

Epilogue – If the injustice is rolling down like rivers of waters on a 73-year-old mother, grandmother, attorney, former city judge, and wife of a state senator with resources to fight, just think of the flood faced by the poor, the oppressed, and the left out.

  About the author: Hank Sanders represents Senate District 23 in the Alabama Legislature.

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