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Violence, Black and White, Rich and Poor
October 30, 2015
by William P. Meyers

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Or How Robert Kennedy Got to be U.S. Attorney General

A 19 year old black man hits another man over the head with a bear bottle. He is arrested by cops, charged with assault or even attempted murder. He is convicted and serves 2 years in jail. After that he is a felon, and so can't get a job, and ends up in a life of crime.

That is a believable story in the United States of America. Some variation of it has happened millions of times in our history. It could have been a true story in the 1920s, or 1950s, or in 2015.

Now consider this quote from The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson:

At a bar "Magnuson, happened to be already celebrating his birthday there, and his friends began singing Happy Birthday to him. Infuriated over what he apparently regarded as an intrusion into his celebration, Bob walked up behind Magnuson and hit him over the head with a beer bottle, sending him to the hospital for stitches." This was just an example of a pattern of illegal, criminal, violent behavior. In another fight friends said "Bobby would have killed him if we didn't pull him off."

Now there are many reasons an act of violence does not result in jail time. Much violence is simply hidden, as when the victim can't ID the assailant, or has his or her own reasons to avoid the police.

Anyone who thinks all white men and women carry get out of jail free cards with them, should take a look at prison statistics (there are about 120,000 white males in federal prison on any given day in the USA with about 77,000 black men).

Some times violent men avoid jail because they have good lawyers. Some times that may be a public defender, but more generally for serious violence only a private lawyer will do. As a result, black or white, having money for lawyers is the main prerequisite

Some violent men get off scott free because they are part of a system of corruption. That would include cops, friends of cops and judges and politicians, and other connected people.

The Bob above is better known as Bobby or Robert Kennedy. He is better known for being the brother and United States Attorney General of President John F. Kennedy. Bobby was assassinated and died on June 6, 1968. President Kennedy was assassinated and died on November 22, 1963.

Are you surprised? I am. I thought I knew quite a bit about the Kennedy family. Only recently I read Robert Kennedy's The Enemy Within, which is mostly about his (later successful) attempt to jail Jimmy Hoffa. Robert did not mention that he acted like a psychopath at least as late has his college years.

In this particular case the violent criminal was the son of one of the most powerful men in the world, Joseph Kennedy, a billionaire (when there were only a few in the world) who maximized profits by dancing back and forth over the imaginary line separating business from organized crime. Apparently no charges were every brought against Bobby for anything he did. The American Bar Association found nothing objectionable about his ethics. He joined the Justice Department, then became Joe McCarthy's henchman in his anti-communist crusade. And at last, through nepotism, the highest figure in American law enforcement.

My own, anecdotal experience in life confirms the picture. Mainly I stay away from criminals and crime. I figure being a political dissident in America is dangerous enough. But three friends of mine have been involved in crimes that were slightly more than petty. Two, probably binging on drugs, copied a scene out of Cool Hand Luke and one of them was caught. One friend, a cook, punched the restaurant owner in the face during an argument.

All three were white. The cook was charged with assault, convicted, and spent over a year in jail. One thief, as I said, got away. I later learned he followed Bobby's path, getting a law degree and a job at the Justice Department. The one who was caught was quickly released and only orally reprimanded by a judge. I don't know what he did for a career.

The difference? The cook was poor and had poor parents and a public defender. The thief had rich parents, with connections to the intelligence community, and an expensive lawyer.

I know black and hispanic and Native American Indians all get treated worse by law enforcement and the courts. But being white and poor or working class is no picnic.

One more anecdote comes to mind. If you are going to be a terrorist, it pays to be from a rich, powerful family. Ask Patty Hearst.

Black lives matter. We need to do more to end all forms of racism. But we also need to give the same justice to people who commit crimes regardless of their economic status and ability to hire lawyers of various levels of competency.

Agree? Disagree? You can comment on this post at Natural Liberation Blog at blogspot.com

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