Liberals and Conservatives alike were outraged by the decision made by a grand jury in America not to charge a white New York City police officer named Daniel Pantaleo, after he placed an unarmed Blackman named Eric Garner into a choke hold and killed him.
This decision has only further enraged the American public following an earlier verdict which saw another white police officer, Darren Wilson, not charged for killing a black youth named Michael Brown.
Rev Al Sharpton said the state-level grand jury system was "broken" when it comes to police brutality cases. But perhaps the issue of racial inequality extends further than law enforcement.
Granted this is not the first case we have read about racial conflict between civilians and law enforcement officials in the United States, but for a country that pledges liberty, freedom and justice for all, the rule of law and in fact many social, political and economic sectors are all plagued by racial inequality which has never been truly confronted by Congress at large.
The case of Eric Garner is evidence to the point, he was an unarmed victim who showed no sign of resistance throughout the incident, and despite his pleading he was put in to a choke hold-which is forbidden to use by NYPD- that led to his death. The course of events were documented on video which brings to question that even with video evidence, if his killer can't be indicted then is this ruling a mark of a huge flaw in the American legal system? Or is this a grave miscarriage of justice and racial inequality?
President Barack Obama has released a statement claiming that he plans to introduce new schemes that will help improve relations between the black community and law enforcement officers, including better training for police, he said:
"This is an American problem and not just a black problem or a brown problem, When anybody in this country is not being treated equally under the law that's a problem and it's my job as president to help solve it."
On some level one could agree with Obama on this issue, when it comes to policing and law enforcement, America struggles to impose the rule of law; a law which refers to the principal of governance in which all persons, institutions and entities, public, private and States are accountable to law. This includes the principals of supremacy of law and equality before the law. According to various national statistics, if an ordinary American citizen is being investigated for a crime by a grand jury, there is a 99.993 percent chance they will be indicted, however, for a police officer the chance is practically nil.
But Obama cannot turn a blind eye from the huge racial disparity America faces: Americans today incarcerate more African Americans as a percentage than Apartheid Africa did. According to the NAACP African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, The net worth of the average black household in America is $6,314 which is minute in comparison to the $110,500 for the average white household. The race gap of wealth in America between the average white family and black family is eighteen fold, that's greater than the gap between black-white communities during Apartheid Africa.
Black students in America are significantly less likely to attend schools offering advance courses in various core subjects including Maths and Science. They are three times more likely to be suspended and expelled which of course is only setting them up for educational failure.
In 1964 Congress passed the Civil Rights Act which prohibits discrimination in employment, however, according to national statistics, 3 out of every 10 African male born in the US will serve time in prison. This places a huge hindrance on their future prospects for legitimate employment and obtaining professional licences. Racial profiling means even greater numbers will probably end up having some sort of criminal record.
Yes, the election of Barack Obama was a huge milestone for the US, and a big milestone towards racial equality, but with a majority Republican Congress, Obama too has been put into a metaphorical choke hold when it comes to bringing about any significant social change. New York City has revealed details of a $35 million project to retrain cops, but the problem stems further than law enforcement alone, all social and economic sectors should be revised, and not just by providing big budget projects, they have to eliminate racial profiling and start enforcing the rule of law, equal justice for equal society, only then can America proudly claim itself to be land of the free and home of the brave.