Who does the justice system protect?

Everyone deserves justice and protection in our communities.

by Melanie Williams


On Sunday afternoon as my partner was headed to work, a Native American teenager was beaten bloody on the sidewalk in front of our apartment building in Uptown. Luckily for the kid, my partner saw the attack and was able to call the police and get the kid an ambulance. Unluckily, the man who assaulted him was never arrested.

After the ambulance had taken him to the hospital to fix a certainly broken nose and various other serious wounds, and as my partner and I were cleaning puddles of blood off of the sidewalk, we saw the perpetrator. We immediately called the cops and told them his exact location. We then watched the man stumble around on a Lyndale Avenue median for 45 minutes. The police never came.

One day prior, I was covering an Occupy event outside the government center. It was a peaceful rally to commemorate Women’s History Month. Most of the attendees were white women and their children. Guess how many cops were sent to the plaza to protect the assembly? More than I can count on one hand.

I have called the police on more than one occasion after witnessing altercations — most of the people I have called for have also been white women who were being harassed by strangers. The police have always shown up and busted the guy. But this kid, who must have been 13 or 14 years old, who identified his assailant and clearly wanted him arrested, gets no justice. He gets no protection.

So who is the criminal justice system really protecting? Who has society taught them to value? White women and their white children under absolutely no threat of violence? White men with money, assets and white women and children at home?

Clearly this Native American teenager’s continued safety was not of high priority. His assailant is still out there, unpunished, and his blood still stains the ground outside my living room window.