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The Differences: Being Black or White and a Murderer
Originally published in Davey D's Hip Hop Corner
The killing of 4 Oakland police officers and Lovelle Mixon, the 26 year old who shot it out with the OPD and killed 4 officers before being killed has kept me up at night. No, it's not because I fear for my life or because I am concerned about cop killing becoming a trend but, because as an advocate for youth in the criminal justice system, I am realizing what these youth are up against when it comes to receiving a second chance at life after being released from incarceration. This has been most apparent w/ peoples response and lack of understanding of the life of someone re-entering society after prison. There are a couple of things that people should remember and consider when understanding our criminal justice system.
1) the juvenile justice system, is built of the philosophy that youth don’t have the mental capacity to fully understand the impact of the decisions that result in them being detained. Therefore they deserve a second chance. The juvenile justice system exist to rehabilitate those that are too young to be held fully accountable for their crimes.
2)The CRIMINAL justice system is built on the philosophy that you are old enough and should not only be held accountable for your decisions but should also be punished for your actions. It is NOT rehabilitative (for those that thought it was principled like that) however, the law states for both systems that when you have completed your time you should no longer receive scrutiny or punishment and should be considered redeemed.
However, our laws are contradictory to those basic philosophies of redemption. Laws like the Higher Education Act, which prohibits those that have been convicted of drug crimes from qualifying for financial aid to attend college. Or the Quality Housing and Work Responsibility Act which deems those who have been convicted of, once again a drug or violent felony ineligible for subsidized housing programs. Housing and higher education-two things necessary to achieving a crime free and successful future.with this said, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone why life for folks like Lovelle Mixon is so hard after prison and why returning to a life of crime, not only familiar but easy, becomes the destiny for so many leaving prison and re-entering society.
Two programs located in Oakland, One Fam and the Mentoring Center risk receiving less than adequate funding for working with young black and brown men and women re-entering society after incarceration. Both these programs not only provide life skills training, but also help young men and women assess the very decisions they made and make that create less than adequate life outcomes but also result in jail.believing that people can be rehabilitated proves to be beneficial for everyone. these programs reduce recidivism and help create confident people who positively contribute to their communities through community service and other forms of giving back.
Its been interesting and sad to see how the very fact that Lovelle was an ex-offender has deemed him a “devil” by mainstream media and the general public and unworthy of investigating the very factors that created the 26 year old who so desperately did not want to return to the very system that helped create this cop killer. Compared to the news coverage two young white men Eric and Dillon, received,in April 1999, one has to ask if news coverage would look different if Lovelle was white?
For those that don’t remember Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a massacre, killing 12 students and a teacher, as well as wounding 23 others, before committing suicide at Columbine High in Littleton, Next month is the 10 year anniversary. It is the fourth-deadliest school shooting in United States history. In the days and hours following the Columbine Massacre, Eric and Dillon were profiled by everyone. Major talk show host from Geraldo to Oprah aired profile specials on these two young men. There were an awful lot of people, especially parents of white teenagers who began asking the question “how did this happened?” There were primetime specials that analyzed their upbringing, created a list of “signs to look for”for parents who potentially may have been raising “eric and dillons”. There was such an interest in trying to do everything possible to find a reason for their behavior and not call them devil children and cold blooded killers. But not Lovelle.To discuss the contributing factors to his behavior is “insensitive” of the police that lost there lives.It is providing an excuse for a man many believe did not deserve to live.
After columbine there was a memorial commissioned by the community on the hill across from the school that the massacre happened at.15 crosses were erected,13 for the victims; students who lost their lives and the teacher who died trying to save them and 2 crosses for eric and dillion, the killers. As mad and outraged as many were, people felt sorry for them. People knew something “had to be wrong” with these boys. There was no public outcry or protest for crosses being added for the killers.
Fast forward to one week ago in Oakland and the Uhuru House holds a memorial to pay tribute to Mixons life lost and they are scrutinized by not only the public but the media and are now in jeoprady of losing their Furniture store that not only funds programs for youth but employs folks in the community. The contributing factors to Mixon’s lifestyle are as plain as day. He couldn’t find a job, after serving time his life was under a microscope as a parolee, his skills were limited due to incarceration. Things that have made men walk into previous places of employment and take out former coworkers before killing themselves. So what’s so different? Mixon killed cops. Men who take an oath to protect and serve (aka willingly put their life on the line to keep the general public safe) and knew that everyday they could have been killed while on duty. Not innocent children like Eric and Dillon killed.
Why do people believe Mixon killed? According to the general public becuz he was just evil. Why did Eric and Dillon kill? The list is endless and without the same certainty that many give to the Mixon rationale; they were depressed, on drugs, part of ‘The Trench Coat Mafia’, victims of bullies. However psychologist have a different conclusion, one that is far more disturbing than Mixons dispair. They were diagnosiable psychopaths.(http://www.slate.com/id/2099203/)
In my opinion the Columbine boys were far more sadistic and deserve less sympathy for two reason. Their upbringing was impeccable. They came from homes with two loving parents, had more than adequate living conditions, and had friends -there WERE no contributing factors other than these two kids were sick punk ass white kids who decided to shoot up there school to show they could do it. And unlike Mixon, they research and planned to kill; they researched bomb making, staked out the school and accumulated a fair amount of ammunition prior to the killings to execute their plan. Everything was sooo premeditated.
As for Mixon, life was not so sweet. And in the end Mixon only had freedom, the ability to roam where he wanted to. He had no job, no home to call his own, and less than a network of support adequate enough to help steer him in the right direction.there were no weeks of planning to kill 4 cops.In those seconds before he shot those cops he knew two things-his freedom, the only thing he had, was going to be taken away and he had a gun. The rest is now history.
Being poor and of color should never mean you have to fight twice as hard to live a decent life but it does. With this recession turning “well to do people” into desperate ass victims of the economy, I want to see what they are going to do when life outcomes for their children start to mirror those of poor people of color. Will there be laws created to deem them deeper into despair? If so, I am sure there will be no shortage of politicians and advocates to save them from becoming the next generations of Eric or Dillon’s. Or even Lovelles.
To find out about One Fam or The Mentoring Center or to make a contribution to these programs go visit: