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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Well At Least they Are Consistent: NAACP Protests Sentencing of "barbie bandits"- "A crime is a crime is a crime"

I vowed to try to have a three week moratorium on posting about the NAACP after the Dunbar Village debacle, but this story jumped out at me in light of our April 3rd podcast where the Florida NAACP President and NAACP spokes person Richard McIntire were our guests. During the show, listeners challenged the "appearance" that the NAACP only appears to speak out on behalf of Black male criminals , and the NAACP Spokesperson Mr. RichardMcIntire McInLIAR ( whoever came up with McInLiar gets an award) said on our show that the media reports what it wants to report as it relates to the work of the NAACP.

So of course when I saw a cnn.com headline with NAACP in it, I looked to see what the "media" was "electing" to report. Its amazing how selective the media can get when you stage a press conference on the court house steps in a high profile case and those "evil" media folks show up with microphones and cameras.. THE NERVE of the media covering your press conference that you called to talk about a high profile case.

Fresh off of their press conference to decry what they think is the "unfair" treatment of the suspects in the Dunbar Village rape and torture case, the NAACP in Georgia is speaking out on the "Barbie bandits" case because the two white women who actually walked in the bank to take the money received probation and their two Black male accomplices received 5 years and 20 years. It is like a scene out of the movie Malcolm X where the two white women get light sentences and they send Malcolm to the clank for years.

The head of the Georgia NAACP called for the state to investigate the sentences
given in the so-called "Barbie bandits" bank theft case, saying the two white
defendants got less prison time than two black men. Edward DuBose said Monday
he will ask state Attorney General Thurbert Baker to look into the case. Baker's
office did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Tuesday.Last month, Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley sentenced 20-year-old Heather Johnston to 10 years probation after she pleaded guilty to a charge of theft by taking in the 2007 heist. The judge gave 19-year-old Ashley Miller two years in jail and eight years probation. Both women are white. Michael Chastang, 28, was sentenced to 10 years for being the mastermind of the robbery, and bank teller Bennie Allen III, 23, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to five years. Both men are black. Chastang also is serving 15 years on unrelated drug-trafficking charges and Allen was on probation for a drug conviction. Associated
When I heard what the Barbie Bandits had been sentenced to, I also shook my head and said "no way." I did not know at the time that they also had African American accomplices. I was just thinking that if these young women had been Black or Hispanic or even if they had been white women who did not fit within the narrow standard of beauty, they would have been thrown in the clank. (ignore the mug shot pictures, they lived up to their "Barbie" label at sentencing with fresh dye jobs) So I can't quarrel with the NAACP pointing out a clear discrepancy. But once again, they have some troublesome facts to deal with. Sandra Rose breaks it down. She is based out of Atlanta and then she asks:

Was the judge supposed to ignore the fact that both men were already out on probation for serious drug offenses? Doesn’t the NAACP have anything else better to do with its time? SandraRose.com
Well the answer to her question is NO. It is clear that the NAACP has made a decision as an organization to make African American criminal defendants, the face of their most public nation-wide campaign. All of these branches are following the same script. Pick a high profile local case, hold a press conference in front of the prosecutor's office decrying unfair treatment and move on. The problem three weeks ago with their Dunbar Village press conference is that there was a vociferous response from victims rights advocates decrying a) their comparison of a horrific crime against humanity to any other crime and b) arguing that some potentially violent sociopaths be released back into the community pending trial ( I don't care what they say, their intentions in WPB were clear)

A Pattern??? A Crime is a Crime is a Crime?

I did a google news search of the NAACP. In addition to their Dunbar Village fiasco where the NAACP along with Al Sharpton declared that a rape is a rape is a rape in their eyes, two other local NAACP chapters in Florida are holding press conferences to declare that a murder is a murder is a murder.

In Manatee county Florida, the NAACP is decrying the sentencing in a murder case where a 67 year old man and his wife were gunned down in their home. The Black defendants face life in prison. But wait, where have you heard the following before?

Authorities say Walker was the driver of the getaway car. They're seeking a life
sentence. Local NAACP presidents Trevor Harvey and Edward Bailey say in similar cases white accomplices have received lighter sentences. They also point out the decision involving the murder of 9-year-old Stacey William's case. The convicted felons got a plea bargain, which only gave them four years for the crime.
I am sure 9-year-old Stacey William's family did not appreciate the comparison nor does the family of Daniel Ramsey. If you are going to make the case for disparate treatment in the system, why not compare DEFENDANTS in the aggregate? If you are trying to raise public awareness of an issue, it might be prudent to do so in a manner that is not morally repugnant.

There has to be a more articulate and effective way to make this argument other than "A rape is a rape is a rape- A murder is a murder is a murder." Someone needs to go back to the drawing board because this argument is apparently being used nationwide by the NAACP, not just the West Palm Beach Branch. Disparate sentencing is an issue, but your spokespeople aren't the best on it.

By going HIGH PROFILE when it comes to arguing on behalf of Black criminal defendants and being more "low key" *cough*silent*cough* when it comes to the victims of black on black crime, you run into charges that you only appear to champion criminals and it undermines the explanation that you do not get involved in individual criminal cases. By comparing the slaughter of a 9-year-old girl to the slaughter of a senior citizen, you run the risk of being callus towards the victims of the crime and appearing to minimize violent crime.

Someone has to pursue this issue, but I can't help but question this courthouse press conference strategy they are employing to pick any case involving a White defendant at random and hold it up against a case involving a Black defendant and scream "It's Unfair" you are always going to open yourself up to having to explain away the unique facts in each case.

  • For those who watched The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo, tonight, there will be a conference call tonight to speak with the filmmaker and activists from around the world.
  • This week is Child Abuse Awareness Month so our topic on Thursday's podcast will be Stephanie Williams, an author and child abuse advocate and we will also be speaking with the founder of Project New Era. That's Thursday, April 10, 2008 at 8:00PM CST- the call in number is 646-478-4750 or participate in the chatroom.
  • Author Tayari Jones is hosting a Dunbar Village literary fund raiser - You can bid to get your novel critiqued and various literary works. As always with any fund raisers we mention, direct your questions to the folks running it.