Two stories in The Intercept illustrate well how skewed the justice system is in the US.
In the first case, Shaun King writes about a man, clearly inflamed and influenced by Donald Trump’s attacks on the media and in particular at CNN, who phoned in multiple deaths threats to that network.
EARLY TUESDAY MORNING, we learned that Brandon Griesemer, a 19-year-old grocery store clerk from Novi, Michigan, made at least 22 calls to CNN’s Atlanta headquarters where he not only threatened to shoot and kill employees, but used racial and ethnic slurs for both African-Americans and Jews. The calls were made two weeks ago, and Griesemer was charged last Friday.
This was not Griesemer’s first rodeo. On September 19, he was reported to have made similarly ugly calls to an Islamic center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Brandon Griesemer is a bigot.
His is the kind of bigotry that is hard to keep to oneself. He has to get it out. He wants Muslims and African-Americans and Jews to experience his cruelty. He wants them to know that they are hated and despised and threatened. He acts out on his bigotry — acts out with his threats, yes, but who knows how far he would have taken it. That’s why this latest story is so frightening to me. But Griesemer did not seem to frighten the U.S. District Court.
Griesemer, you see, is a dangerous bigot, but he is also white. And because of his whiteness, he is already free on just $10,000 bond. He was charged, arrested, and released all in a single day, last Friday.
His threats, in the spirit of the Trump administration’s soft stance on white supremacy and other violence from white people, were basically given the legal version of a wink and a nod. If you think for a single solitary moment that a Muslim-American who made 22 hateful, violent calls to CNN threatening mass casualties would’ve been charged, arrested, and released on the same day, with a bond of any kind, I’ve got a bridge to sell you. They wouldn’t get home in time to see next year’s Superbowl, let alone the game that night.
The other story by Ryan Devereaux describes what happened to members of the No More Deaths group that tries to prevent the deaths of migrants who come across the southwestern desert border areas by placing jugs of water at various locations.
Born out of a multi-faith border conference in 2004, No More Deaths serves as an umbrella organization for an array of religious and community groups working in some of the harshest terrain along the divide between the U.S. and Mexico. In addition to leaving gallon jugs of water in remote areas where migrants make their way into the U.S., the organization also maintains camps where migrants can receive medical care and routinely aids in the recovery of bodies along the border.
The true scale of deaths that occur along the U.S. border with Mexico is unknown, but academic and journalistic investigations in recent years point to a loss of life of epic proportions. In a report published in December, USA Today found that illegal border crossings have claimed at least “7,209 lives over the past 20 years,” but that “the actual number is far higher” because “federal authorities largely fail to count border crossers when their remains are recovered by local authorities, and even local counts are often incomplete.”
The group discovered that agents of the US Border Patrol were systematically destroying the jugs and published a report on this practice. Soon after, border patrol agents arrested Scott Warren who had given food and water to two people.
According to a complaint filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Arizona, Border Patrol agents conducting surveillance in the town of Ajo observed Scott Warren, 35, and two undocumented immigrants entering a building — referred to as “the Barn” — on January 17, 2018, the same day the humanitarian group’s report was published. The migrants reportedly learned of the Barn’s address, and the sanctuary it was said to provide, through online research.
“Warren met them outside and gave them food and water for approximately three days,” the complaint states, accusing the activist and Arizona State University instructor of also providing the migrants with “beds and clean clothes.”
What a horrible crime Warren committed. Not only did he give people food and water, he even gave them beds and clean clothes! Other members of the group were also arrested on charges of ‘littering’, this being the term the authorities used for leaving jugs of water.
William G. Walker, an attorney who has represented No More Deaths volunteers for more than a decade explains what is going on.
Walker said there are persistent complaints among Arizonans that not enough focus is given to enforcing the law and strained resources mean crime fighting falls by the wayside. “So why are we out there, then, using these precious resources to slash water bottles?” he asked. “To arrest and charge humanitarian volunteers from across the country that are trying to save lives?”
“I know why we do it,” he added. “We have a racist federal government now, and you can quote me on that.”