I fought the law, but . . .

Under the impression that the American justice system treats all who come before it equally? You haven’t been paying attention:

JERICHO, Ark. – It was just too much, having to return to court twice on the same day to contest yet another traffic ticket, and Fire Chief Don Payne didn’t hesitate to tell the judge what he thought of the police and their speed traps.

The response from cops? They shot him. Right there in court.

According to the Associated Press, Mr. Payne was unarmed when one of the seven cops — 1-2-3-4-5-6-7 — in the courtroom shot him in the back, grazing the finger of another officer. Since this is America, after all, surely there will be some repercussions for this loose cannon unworthy of calling himself one of Jericho’s finest . . . right?

Prosecutor Lindsey Fairley said Thursday that he didn’t plan to file any felony charges against the officer or Payne. Fairley, reached at his home, said Payne could face a misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle, but that would be up to the city’s judge. He said he didn’t remember the name of the officer who fired the shot.

To recap: The prosecutor has no plans to file charges against the police officer that shot an unarmed man in the back, claiming he doesn’t even remember the cop’s name, so inconsequential were his actions. The guy complaining about unfair tickets, though? He faces a possible “misdemeanor charge stemming from the scuffle.”

America has long had a multi-tiered justice system, with agents of the state and the wealthy and politically connected generally afforded leniency (think of the establishment outcry whenever there’s even talk of holding political elites accountable for their actions), while those not fortunate enough to have the right friends, attorneys or occupation fill America’s prisons — which along with missiles seem to be the only thing this country makes anymore. In the past, though, declaring that the state was stabbing — or shooting — its citizens in the back with its policies was always intended more as a metaphor than a literal reference.

About Charles Davis

A writer and producer with whose work has aired on television and radio and been published by outlets such as Al Jazeera, The Intercept, The Nation and The New Republic.
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