Published: Jun 30, 2012 07:00 PM
Modified: Jun 30, 2012 05:21 PM
We applaud Gov. Perdue for taking another stand for justice and equal protection under the law by vetoing the right wings most recent attempt to take us backwards and turn a blind eye to the reality of racism in our criminal justice system.
This Racial Justice Act repeal bill should never have been on the Governors desk in the first place. It is bizarre and unthinkable that legislators are striving to maintain the status quo of racism in the death penalty system and steal a tool from the courts to address this abomination.
Now is the time for elected members of the General Assembly to make good on their constitutional responsibility to govern for the good of the whole, not just their narrow political interests. We especially call on Reps. Brisson, Hill, Owens, Spear and Crawford to wake up and not turn their backs on the many African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and poor people they represent.
We say to members of the N.C. General Assembly: Sustain the veto. Sustain your humanity. Sustain North Carolina going forward together, and not one step back.
The only conclusion one can come to when you have legislators gut a bill that has already been used in the courts to prove systemic racism exists, is that those legislators do not care about, nor do they want to address, the reality of racial bias in our current legal system. And a refusal to use every tool necessary to root out the racist application of the death penalty is to in fact participate in the injustice itself.
We live in a state where seven men have been exonerated from death row; men who would have been murdered by the state if the system had only worked faster. Five are black, one is Latino and one is white. ALL were charged with the murders of white victims.
And lets be clear, support for the Racial Justice Act is not an endorsement of violence or a sign that anyone is soft on crime. Criminal justice enforcement is only strengthened when the system confronts racial bias directly and attempts to rid it from its practices.
We should note that not one African American legislator supported this legislative trickery. Every African American legislator supported the Racial Justice Act in its current form. Every legislator who voted for the repeal bill, which removes tools needed by the courts to root out racial disparity, is white. This alone should cause the legislators voting to repeal the Racial Justice Act to pause and rethink their vote.
Please go to our website: naacpnc.org
for more information.
The writers are the president and executive director of the N.C. NAACP based in Durham.