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What is Justice in America?

"There is a principle - which is compatible with the presumption of innocence, and is deeply ingrained in our sense of justice - that individuals wrongly accused of a crime should suffer neither stigma nor adverse consequences by virtue of an arrest or criminal accusation not resulting in conviction," said Governor Paterson on June 16, 2010.

Thus, Governor Paterson signed a bill limiting Stop-and-Frisk Database collection of the names and addresses of those stopped. This action requires some reflection because we are living in the 21st century and not the 17th century. This action was necessary, because there is still a resistance to equity before the law for persons of color in this nation.
While one would think that after years fighting the institution of Slavery and subsequent Jim Crow Laws, the nation would be able to move on to a new day of freedom and justice for all Americans; well, it has not happened.
Apparently, there are new racist laws which have replaced the old unjust laws. And so once again, we must take up the mantle to strike them down. In the past, we had courageous leaders, white and black, Jews and Gentiles, who would make the ultimate sacrifice to see that justice was served. We had dynamic NAACP lawyers like Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston who crisscrossed the nation to fight injustices. However, today, there seems to be less outrage to the injustices which plague our nation as the growth of intolerance continues. The quiet storm of outrage is limited primarily to the affected communities. Today there is surveillance of Muslim students, tomorrow another religious or ethnic group will be targeted by the NYPD in the name of homeland security.
In 2007, Julian Bond said that each and every citizen, irrespective of color, should be assured of the equality of opportunity and equality before the law, which underlie our American institutions and are guaranteed by the Constitution.
Martin Luther King said:"I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds."

Fredrick Douglass warned, "Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe."
I believe Douglass, King, and Bond were correct. However, not many people were listening. Because today our basic rights are not fully be protected. And therefore, the racial profiling in Arizona and New York which impedes our liberty, justice, and pursuit of happiness must end.
King also stated that "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." If that is true, we must applaud Governor Paterson and President Obama for taking a quantum leap forward in the right direction. "Because human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals."

According to the ACLU, "The Arizona immigration law is poised to inflame the already widespread problem of racial profiling in the United States. This law, S. B. 1070, would require law enforcement officers to investigate a person's citizenship status if they think that the person could be in the country unlawfully. This is a clear invitation to racial profiling, and because of this new law, more people will be put into jails and the criminal justice system merely because of their race or ethnicity. When law enforcement is invited to question people based on appearance and without evidence of criminal activity, dire consequences occur."
"Similarly, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's support for New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk policy is another abysmal example of racial profiling in law enforcement. According to the New York Times, in 2009, African-Americans and Latinos were nine times more likely to be stopped than whites but no more likely to be arrested. From 2004 to 2009, almost 3 million people were stopped and frisked; 90 percent of these people were not charged with a crime," stated the ACLU.
Surely there will be more difficult days ahead. The U.S. Justice Department recently sued Arizona over SB 1070.  Yet, throughout these tumultuous times, we can take comfort in knowing that "the moral arc of the universe bends at the elbow of justice."

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