I met Phenyo through a mutual friend at a bar in Putney a few years ago. If we had met at university, we would probably be great buddies. It was one of the uni day type beers where we got straight into talk about solving the world's great injustices. Once we start work, we barely have time to maintain friendships, let alone start new ones. The great thing about social media is you can stay semi in touch. You can still share ideas and hope that at some stage we get to free our heads to dream the great dreams of our early twenties again. For that to happen we need space to breathe.
Phenyo and our mutual buddy Lance
Lady Liberty’s Clouded Justice
by Phenyo Molefe
As Walter Scott was laid to rest on the 12 April 2015, we were left pondering the realities that have pierced America’s dream and being. It remains that America’s racial and social transformation process is far from over and still carries upon its shoulders intractable impediments to progress.
The torrents of news of unarmed black men being savagely beaten and shot have increasingly been relayed to the world over the last few years. These acts have been punctuated by the ruthless exploits which we have seen replayed across all our screens. The undeniable impact of watching an unarmed man helplessly run for his life, seemingly the subject of a merciless hunting expedition, still remains. The hail of gun fire which ripped through his body five times as his misplaced strides proved incapable of escaping the bloodied hands of ‘justice’.
Michael Slager performed his duties in stopping Walter Scott for a broken tail light but the latter course action he served is indefensible. Walter Scott should not have fled the scene and I cannot give an accounting of the fear and thought process he engaged in. However I am even more perplexed by the beliefs and thought processes that Slager engage in. It seemingly entitled him to end Scott’s life, in a manner which articulated a scene from Brooklyn’s Finest. If Walter Scott and Michael Slager have had no prior engagements, what prejudice aggravated him to completely disregard the law with such lethal force? Even the bizarre act of handcuffing a dying man gasping for air permeates from the stores of detestation veiled and woven into certain layers of society.
This event extends itself beyond a mere case of excessive force. What sort of protocol affords police the right and privilege to respond in the manner which we have seen across countless cases, especially those pertaining to black people. It is by no means easy to fulfil the duties tasked to police officers throughout the US. It is further reason that they should undergo thorough training and qualification to execute the difficult duty prescribed to them. Michael Slager is not the problem; he is a manifestation of a problem rooted far deeper in the tapestry of America’s history and making. A problem many prefer to overlook in the hopes that the magic of future generations and economic advancement will unearth and solve in its own time.
Convicting Michael Slager of murder and sending him to the gallows of mortality’s waiting room is not going erase the imperfections that rip through the American dream and the illusions of justice for all. We will continue to be faced with manifestations such as that noted above. All spectrums of American’s making will be affected until we gather the testicular fortitude to admit to the reality of the challenges at hand and are prepared to usher in agents of reconciliation and reform.
How can we look to Lady Liberty to grant us justice when the very fabrics of her white robe are soiled by the fresh blood of innocent lives; while she stands upon the corpses of trampled souls from a past yet to be reconciled. America’s task is not easy. She has made countless advances for her people and the rest of mankind but she has yet to find healing from her fractured past, solutions for a better integrated society throughout her lands, a society willing to heal, conscious of its connected roots.
Three photos from the Martin Luther King Memorial