When I was growing up, I saw the image of the blindfolded Lady Justice holding the scale of justice in one hand and a sword in the other. The blindfold conveyed the idea that we had equal justice for all, no matter how rich and powerful or how poor and unimportant the people involved were.
As I have grown older, I have seen too many examples that make a mockery of this ideal. Some recent examples include crimes committed by Wall Street that led up to the 2008 financial disaster. These Wall Street criminals profited from their crimes and the bailout of Wall Street. Worst of all, these criminals weren’t prosecuted. In addition, during the next few years, there were huge numbers of illegal foreclosures, but even these blatant crimes weren’t prosecuted.
More recently, Wells Fargo employees set up about 2 million false accounts and charged fees without customers’ knowledge of these accounts. Wells Fargo had to pay a relatively small fine and fired about 5,300 low-level employees, but no high-level executives were charged or fired.
Public officials and CEOs of companies lie before Congress and face no charges. Gen. David Petraeus gave classified material to his mistress and received a slap on the wrist. In contrast, whistleblowers receive long prison sentences for bravely doing their duties while those whose crimes or embarrassing behaviors are reported go unpunished.
The rich and the powerful use money to influence the writing of legislation that makes behavior that was formerly criminal now legal. Regardless, the behavior is still highly unethical and immoral.
Black Lives Matter has courageously and powerfully brought attention to the horrific and unwarranted police killings of blacks and other minorities across the nation. Cellphone videos and police cameras provide documentation that disprove many of the initial police versions of these killings. Making matters worse, the police involved in these shootings are often not charged.
In the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte last week, the police department further undercut confidence in the system by first refusing to release police videos of the killing. Shockingly, North Carolina has passed a law that will prevent the release of police videos beginning Oct. 1.
We must deal quickly to right these injustices and to protect human and civil rights. Otherwise, the subsequent distrust in the judicial system doesn’t bode well for the future of the country.
The Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center’s “Peace Train” runs every Friday in the Colorado Daily.