The American justice system has never been about the commission of a crime or about civil justice.
Crime knows no color, but justice does.
The problem comes in, when history tells the truth, in the skin color and the race of the victim.
Black on black crime, victim and/or family has slim to no chance of being vindicated; white on white crime, victim/family has high chance of vindication and where the justice sytem actually becomes equal; black on white crime, victim has a higher chance of being vindicated, even moreso than white on white; white on black crime, victim has virtually no chance of being vindicated ... but in the past 10 years or so, more of a chance of being vidicated if the crime committed was extreme, such as the James Byrd Jr. lynching in Texas.
Film maker and director, Jerry LaMothe, recently produced an independent film about the racial disparities in the justice system, where he spent three days in New York's Central Booking System to see what it was like to be a "black man lost" in the justice system.
“I was locked up,” he confesses about the film’s inspiration. “It was a real thought-provoking experience in the sense that that’s what I went through. I saw the red tape and politics that goes with central booking and the jail system. So I wanted to tell the story of a Brooklyn man’s 3-day journey through The Tombs. It’s kind of semi-autobiographical.”
The result is a stirring telling of what actually happens to black people when they get caught in the system. “I wanted to convey to young Black males..the helplessness,” says LaMothe. “It’s an innate instinct as an artist for me to tell stories. It’s my way of communicating. Most of my films have always had some subconscious plot or theme and that’s the best form for me to put out my stories."
His three-day volunteer journey was nothing compared to the actual critical experience of it.
Though some fear to admit it, there isn't a black man or woman in the United States who doesn't know that had Trayvon Martin been a 17 year old white kid -- suspended from school and high on a tiny bit of THC or no-- and had George Zimmerman been black, the news reports and the prosecutory system would have been telling an entirely different story. Zimmerman, the black man, certainly wouldn't have spent nearly two months evading murder charges, let alone would he have been able to put up a website with a Paypal Account collecting more than $200,000. He definitely wouldn't have had a retired judge for a father who is helping him to taint and cover up critical evidence, let alone the favoritism use of the Sanford police department--maybe even calling in favors--to protect him from his wrongdoing.
As a matter of fact, in the mass media and the public at-large, Zimmerman would have been another O.J. Simpson, convicted in the court of public opinion without benefit of a fair trial ... and he certainly wouldn't have had a "Dream Team" to help him stand a chance of exoneration.
This is what happens to black men and women every day in the justice systems across America, the color and race/ethnicity of the 'victim' decides whether or not they are guilty, whether or not they are punished ... and how much of a punishment they get.
A white man in Phoenix was overheard saying "They profile themselves." So do whites; but the metric of justice, somehow, is hardly ever, almost never, the same.
LaMothe is in talks for distribution of The Tombs and is wrapping up a festival tour which includes the Panafrican Film Festival in Los Angeles and Act Now/New Voices in Black cinema in Brooklyn at BAM.