Racism Is Still Alive

I just had a chance to watch a new movie called “Crown Heights” and I must say it was a really painful screening for me. Had I watched it back in Poland, I would probably look at it as just another moving story. But since I’ve been living here for over 4 years now, I can’t look at its subject matter with the same eyes anymore.

It’s a movie about an Afro-American guy falsely accused of murder and sentenced to 20 years in jail. The story is based on facts. I must admit – when I moved in here, I thought that black people exaggerate a bit when it comes to injustice or police brutality. But the truth is that if you are a black person here, or in general – a person of color, your chances are smaller right away. I have no doubts that white people are treated differently here. I wrote about racism already on Just Like NY. Yes, I believe that when it comes to racial issues, it’s better here than it’s in Europe, or at least better than it is in my country, but it doesn’t change the fact that racism in America still exists. 

Two weeks ago my Afro-American friend got arrested at work. Four police officers came in and – without telling him what is the reason – took him to an investigation. It turned out it wasn’t even about him – he lent his car to his cousin and his cousin got into a fight. He wasn’t even the one who started the fight, but his friends who were in the car with him beat those other guys up. The problem was that those guys were cops, cops who weren’t on duty. So it got serious. The only thing that saved my friend from going to jail was the fact that his car had a dash camera. He still had to spend 3 days in jail, during which he was frantically contacting his mom (who was going out of her mind and brought the recording from the dash camera). The camera registered everything and the recording was exactly the opposite of what the cops reported. The cops said that they were attacked and they had to defend themselves. The police officer who was in charge when the recording was shown said that if he was my friend, he’d would press charges. My friend did it and so did his friends. The problem is that if it weren’t for that recording, they would have been in jail now. No one would believe that black guys attacked police officers without any reason. No one would believe that the police officers attacked black guys without any reason. And what happened was that my friend’s cousin cut the cops’ car way and police officers decided to pull them over and started hitting their car for them to come out and dragged one out when he opened the door. Unfortunately, they had no idea that there were 4, not 2, guys inside and thus their asses were beaten up.  

The thing I learned living in the US is that the justice system is not built to serve the people or to bring justice. I remember that over a year ago I read an article in “New York Magazine”; it was about a group of Afro-Americans who were in the same situation as the main character from “Crown Heights” movie. The director of the movie said that there are still at least 120,000 innocent people in US jails now. 

And who is responsible for that?