Feb 5, 2007
Could a verdict be more astonishing? Witnesses call 911 to report young boys in a street fight. Three months later, a judge – not a jury – declares eight juvenile girls convicted of felonies!
That’s what happened in Long Beach, California, on January 26.
The prosecution of the girls grew out of a street fight last Halloween night. Ordinary street fights among young people happen day in and day out. But last Halloween, on a street in Long Beach, California, the street fight involved wealthier college-age white women and working-class black high-schoolers. Cops usually try to get little involved in neighborhood fights, beyond breaking them up. But they jumped all over this one.
The local cops ignored several witnesses’ reports of young black males fighting and then running away. The cops arrested a group of young black females, plus a brother of one of them. The cops ignored accounts of the whites initiating racial taunts. Cops pulled a kangaroo line-up in a dimly lit parking lot and on the description of “hair-dos, earrings and clothes,” charged the young black females and kept them in jail for 87 days. All were under l8. One was 12. One was not allowed to call her mother for 5 days.
In court, evidence from the defense lawyers was ignored and never investigated, while statements from the white women were taken for absolute truth, regardless of witnesses and of contradictions in their stories. One woman claimed not to have been drinking – the doctor who examined her after the fight said she had been. Another woman claimed to have been close enough to identify assailants. But her friend said, and she then admitted, she had been driving away and only saw the fight in her rear-view mirror, in the dark.
None of that, and none of the other evidence, testimony, and character references, mattered in the judge’s final decision. The judge found all of the young black people guilty, except for the one who was only 12 years old. The judge also convicted them of felonies – of “hate crimes,” mainly because of the hysteria drummed up by the local news media.
We live in a society ruled by the rich, and divided by racism – as this entire show trial demonstrates.