December 10, 2023

We knew her life didn’t matter to them.

We knew it, going in. From the time they murdered her, to the time they announced the Grand Jury decisions. So, we weren’t surprised. America has trained us well not to be surprised, at this point. Long before the age of devices you used to record the actions of wicked state actors, black folks witnessed harassment, brutality and murder, followed by the lack of punishment done to law-enforcement officers. In the case of many victims of unjust brutality or murder at the hands of law enforcement, not much or any justice awaits them in the courtrooms.

Which is odd, because I went to law school.

Law school teaches every future attorney the “Ham Sandwich” rule when taking Criminal Law and/or Criminal Procedure. New York State chief judge Sol Wachtler was famously quoted by Tom Wolfe in The Bonfire of the Vanities that “a grand jury would ‘indict a ham sandwich,’ if that’s what you wanted.” And even though this rule sounds ridiculous and probably shouldn’t be taken literal, but, well, it actually should be taken literal. Because it’s that easy. It’s really that easy to indict a ham sandwich.

Yep, a ham sandwich.

But maybe I should stop paying my student loans and demand my money back, because law school had it wrong. Well, let me take that back. They were right. But, our brilliant professors didn’t take into account the perfectly oppressive system that allows even ham sandwiches to be indicted. Which is the same system, whose racism is self evident, ultimately determined that Breonna Taylor’s life didn’t matter.

Like, what if the ham sandwich is killed by police officers?

Well, no. Let me rephrase that question. What if the ham sandwich IS a police officer?

The legal authority that argues, and ultimately decides as to whether charges should be brought against the police are in partnership with the police. They work with the police. And the police work with them. Everything from granting search warrants, to pursuing charges, to convicting criminals, to sentencing. A perfect union for systematically convicting whoever they want while also protecting whoever they want.

Summarily, Breonna Taylor’s life isn’t worth a ham sammich to them.

But again, this doesn’t surprise us, right? Hell, no one has still yet to answer for the murders of Eric Garner, Mike Brown, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, Ataiana Jefferson and fill in the blank, here________. None of these cases even made it past the initial grand-jury proceedings. The blatant stripping away of due-process liberties in these cases has already set the precedent that equity cannot be obtained in the courtroom.

A protester (L) speaks emotionally at a police officer during a protest down a street in Ferguson, Missouri on August 19, 2014. Police lowered their profile on August 19, and refrained from using tear gas, to allow a more orderly night of protests in this St Louis suburb 10 days after the police shooting of an unarmed black teenager. AFP PHOTO / Michael B. Thomas (Photo credit should read Michael B. Thomas/AFP/Getty Images)

The lack of grand-jury oversight fully displayed the conflict of interest between law enforcement and prosecutors. The prosecution in all of the murder cases committed by state actors exhibited grand-jury practices that are alien to many in the legal community, including conflicting witness testimony and, especially in the cases of Garner and Brown, allowing potential defendants to share their side without threat of cross-examination.

I get it.

This doesn’t surprise us, but the shit still hurts.

And it’s because we have this helpless feeling. This feeling that we can’t protect black people. This feeling that we can’t protect black women. And I’m not just referring to the physical protection of our people, but the protection that will constitute real change. Protections that will ultimately dismantle the very system that not only failed to provide justice for Breonna Taylor, but murdered her.

And this helpless feeling isn’t just derived from the overall systemic racism that plagues every way of life, including our judicial system. But it derives, specifically, from the facts that stem from Breonna’s murder. Officers had evidence that Breonna’s ex boyfriend was involved in drugs. However, by the time officers showed up at the apartment, the ex was already being detained, but they didn’t bother to check. Because, why would they? Shoot black people first, investigate later, right? And when the officers performed their no-knock warrant, a warrant that requires them to announce themselves, it is being argued they failed to announce themselves, thus giving Breonna Taylor’s current boyfriend the justification to shoot first, as he was a legal weapon carrier, protecting his castle (See: Castle Doctrine Laws).

So, for the system to view those facts and STILL determine that nothing was there to even CHARGE, not convict, but CHARGE the officers who murdered Breonna Taylor is just one of many reasons as to why black america is in this constant state of incensed rage. Breonna Taylor is victim of police work so casual, that it crossed the line to malevolent and wicked. And yet, the system, that is designed to prevent such actions from taking place by punishing those who fail to consider human life, don’t care. Because humanity and black humanity are two different things. The system works assiduously to protect the humanity it was designed to protect, while neglecting, or even killing black humanity.

This system has to go. And this shouldn’t be an extremist take, anymore.

This system charged the officer who ultimately shot and killed Breonna Taylor with Wanton Endangerment. First off, I’m an attorney, and I have absolutely no idea what the fuck that even means. And from what I’ve gathered, the harshest punishment a person can be sentenced, if charged, is 1-5 years. If that person is convicted of “2nd Degree Wanton Endangerment,” it is only classified as a simple misdemeanor.

But I’m going to be honest, this didn’t surprise me, either.

The charge, nor the law they pulled out of the depths of their racist sphincters to charge the officer with doesn’t shock me. What shocked me is the OTHER charge they made against the officer whose bullets didn’t even contribute to the murder of Breonna Taylor; Whose bullets didn’t even violently rip through the Breonna’s literal heart. The third officer, who discharged his weapon that night, is being charged with reckless endangerment, a charge that could land him 15 YEARS. He was charged a more serious crime for not killing Breonna Taylor than the officer was charged for killing Breonna Taylor.

So, if the officer, who is being charged with reckless endangerment for shooting nary a person, and only striking the dry wall of Breonna Taylor’s neighbor, would’ve shot Breonna Taylor, he would free to leave? See, yeah. They didn’t teach us that in law school. I was taught that the action of murdering someone is more serious than the action of endangering someone’s life.

And now that I think about it, dry wall over black lives shouldn’t surprise me, either.

Tf was I thinking?

Leslie McLemore writes about a lot of different shit for Black With No Chaser. He is also the Takeaway Kang and is the father of two beautiful girls, one of which gets on every nerve he has. The other one is sweet. So, you know, balance. 

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