Tea Party Leader: Black ‘Thugs’ Do Not Deserve Due Process (VIDEO)

Jesse Lee Peterson via Facebook

Jesse Lee Peterson via Facebook

As the outrage over how police treat African-Americans continues to heat up, a Tea Party leader in California is ratcheting up the rhetoric in a way that threatens the constitutional right to due process.

Jesse Lee Peterson is the leader of South Central L.A. Tea Party and he thinks black “thugs” should be considered guilty until proven innocent. During a phone interview on The Steve Malzberg show, Peterson claimed that white people are treated worse than African-Americans by the justice system. He said while whites are viewed as guilty when they get arrested, blacks are “given the benefit of the doubt” and police are viewed as the “suspects.”

I’ve said from day one that Michael Brown is a thug… The fact that he was running from the cops, period, because good folks do not run from police officers, they follow their instructions. I just think that it’s a shame that, in America today, that criminals are given the benefit of the doubt – especially black criminals because white criminals are not – but black criminals are given the benefit of the doubt and the police officers are the suspects. I don’t know what has happened to my country.

Then Peterson opened up a wound that hasn’t quite healed in this country since it occurred two years ago. He brought Trayvon Martin into the conversation and accused Martin of being a “thug” who deserved to die at the hands of George Zimmerman.

This guy was a thug, he grew up without both parents in the home. When you look at his Facebook page, he has a gun in his hand, smoking marijuana, has tattoos, had been thrown out of school. The guy’s a thug. Why are we protecting thugs?

Here’s the video via Raw Story.

For some reason, Mr. Peterson is ignorant of how the justice system works in this country. And he’s clueless about what is happening between police officers and African-Americans on our streets. First of all, people run from the police for all sorts of reasons. Mostly it’s because they’re just scared or they panic. And who wouldn’t be scared considering how police are shooting unarmed citizens or beating the hell out of them for doing nothing?

Furthermore, Peterson is wrong about whites being persecuted by the justice system. The fact is, the reverse is actually the truth. Not only are black people treated as second class citizens in our courts, that’s assuming they even make it that far. Multiple independent studies indicate that black people face police brutality at a higher rate than whites. A 2007 study of deadly police shootings in 10 major cities in the country found that “there were a disproportionately high number of African Americans among police shooting victims in every one.” And that’s just one of many studies that Mother Jones looked at that indicates a major miscarriage of justice when it comes to how black people are treated by police compared to white people. Additionally, the African-American imprisonment rate is higher than it is for white people. Huffington Post reports that “only 1 in every 106 white men are incarcerated, in comparison to 1 in every 15 African Americans.” That’s a serious statistic proving that the justice system is tilted in the favor of whites even though slavery ended 150 years ago and African-Americans are supposed to be treated equally under the law. Sadly, that just isn’t the case.

And finally, innocent until proven guilty is enshrined in our Constitution. We ALL have the right to due process and a fair trial. And it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt. As the ones bringing the charges, prosecutors are the accusers while defendants are the accused. Cops aren’t supposed to be judge, jury, and executioner. What police officers are supposed to do is treat all citizens equally, and they aren’t doing that. Both Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin were unarmed teenagers who were gunned down simply because it was ASSUMED that they were criminals. And these incidents are happening every day and officers aren’t being held accountable.

But what makes this incredibly hypocritical is that Peterson is a black man. If he were walking on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, he cannot say that the police wouldn’t look at him suspiciously, especially if he was strolling through a mostly white neighborhood. Should we assume that he is guilty of something and arrest him on the spot? According to Peterson, that’s exactly what he thinks police should do. This is wrong, and goes completely against our constitution and legal precedence. And the right-wing wonders why African-Americans support Democrats.