NEW YORK TIMES: After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., I wrote a couple of columns entitled “When Whites Just Don’t Get It.” The reaction to those columns — sometimes bewildered, resentful or unprintable — suggests to me that many whites in America don’t understand the depths of racial inequity lingering in this country. This inequity is embedded in our law enforcement and criminal justice system, and that is why Bryan Stevenson may, indeed, be America’s Mandela. For decades he has fought judges, prosecutors and police on behalf of those who are impoverished, black or both. When someone is both and caught in the maw of the justice system — well, Stevenson jokes that “it’s like having two kinds of cancer at the same time.”
“We have a system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent,” he adds. Stevenson, 54, grew up in a poor black neighborhood in Delaware and ended up at Harvard Law School. He started the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Ala., to challenge bias and represent the voiceless. It’s a tale he recounts in a searing, moving and infuriating memoir that is scheduled to be published later this month, “Just Mercy.” Stevenson tells of Walter McMillian, a black Alabama businessman who scandalized his local community by having an affair with a married white woman. Police were under enormous pressure to solve the murder of an 18-year-old white woman, and they ended up arresting McMillian in 1987.
The authorities suppressed exculpatory evidence and found informants to testify against McMillian with preposterous, contradictory and constantly changing stories. McMillian had no serious criminal history and had an alibi: At the time of the murder, he was at a church fish fry, attended by dozens of people who confirmed his presence. None of this mattered. An overwhelmingly white jury found McMillian guilty of the murder, and the judge — inauspiciously named Robert E. Lee Key Jr. — sentenced him to die. MORE
TIME: Author, activist and academic Cornel West was arrested Monday in Ferguson, Mo., amid continued demonstrations demanding justice for Mike Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was killed by a white police officer on Aug. 9. MORE
DAILY MAIL: Prominent civil activist Cornel West has been arrested in Ferguson, Missouri as more than 1,000 people march through the city to rally against police violence. The Princeton University philosopher and author was hauled away in handcuffs as protesters called for the arrest of a white police officer who shot dead unarmed teen Michael Brown in August He was one of at least 50 detained by officers at the demonstrations which went on late into the night. Ahead of his arrest, West told a crowd at Saint Louis University on Monday: ‘It’s a beautiful thing to see people on fire for justice but I didn’t come here to give a speech. I came here to go to jail.’ MORE