"The Negro does not want love. He wants justice."
- E. Franklin Frazier, 1894 - 1662
Since the Trayvon Martin tragedy, and George Zimmerman's farce of a trial, there has been a backlash of public outrage and concern regarding the racial inequities permeating the American Justice System. The fall-out from Zimmerman's acquittal has culminated into a universal consensus that the criminal justice system is broken. All agree -- Democrats and Republicans, Judges and D.A.'s, Attorney Generals nationwide, law enforcement, and citizens of all persuasions -- that the criminal justice system is applied prejudicially towards people of color.
One of the oldest and most pernicious of these inequities is that old relic of injustice called the "ALL WHITE JURY." All but forgotten by the general public, the Zimmerman trial has trust this tactic once again into the center of public awareness. It has repeatedly shown up as a topic of discussion in newspaper articles, on news shows and on C-Span.
Most Americans are misinformed and sincerely believed that the average African American defendant receives a fair trial before a jury of his/her peers. They were astonished to learn that this was not the case. Even more shocking to them was the revelation that D.A.s all over the country routinely violated African American defendant's rights by manipulating the jury selection process, using peremptory challenges to exclude African American jurors in order to seat "all white juries."
The tactic has served two diabolical purposes. The first has been to acquit whites guilty of crimes against African Americans: e.g., the white defendant's who killed Emmett Till, the officers who beat Rodney King, the white men who were acquitted in Shenandoah, PA of beating a Mexican immigrant to death, and now George Zimmerman for the murder of Trayvon Martin. The second, and most often utilized, has been to pick "all white juries" that would ignore the evidence and convict on the basis of race and racial stereotypes.
In the movie "Twelve Angry Men," starring Hendry Fonda, the injustice of the "all white jury" is laid bare. IN a shocking display of racial attitudes and prejudice, we see what happens when "an all white jury" deliberates the fate of a person of color charged with first-degree murder. Little attention is paid to the evidence, instead eleven jurors are poised to convict on racist notions and stereotypes. However, the Henry Fonda character fights against these attitudes to turn the other eleven jurors around to acquit the defendant. In reality, Henry Fonda's character does not exist.
Recognizing the unconstitutional and nefarious nature of this tactic, the Supreme Court of the United States in several rulings over the last forty years have outlawed the practice in a succession of cases: E.G., Swain V. Alabama (1965), Batason v. Kentucky (1986); Miller El v. Dretke (2005).
Instead of adhering to these precedents, prosecutors nationwide have repackaged the tactic in order to circumvent the Supreme Court precedent and render it impotent in protecting the fair trial rights of African Americans. In these respects, Pennsylvania state courts are among the most relentless abusers. For example, a state prisoner named Charles Diggs, AK-7945, SCI-Graterford; was tried three times by "all white juries." I, Omar Askia Ali AKA Edward Sistrunk, was tried twice by "all white juries." Many other PA prisoners have suffered convictions at the hand of this nefarious tactic. Indeed, there exist in the public record evidence that the Philadelphia D.A.'s office over a forty year period have maintained an illegal policy of picking "all white juries" in trials involving African American defendants. Training sessions were held, codes developed, and guidelines promulgated in implementing the racist tactic.
Case in point, during the Philadelphia D.A. administration of Ron D. Castille (current chief justice of PA's Supreme Court), ADA Jack McMahon in 1986 recorded a training session in which he taught the racist tactic to incoming ADA's. Later, in 1990, then director of training for the Philadelphia D.A.'s office, Bruce Sagel, taught the same tactic. Mr. Sagel's "ideal jury" was "12 Archie Bunkers who will convict on little evidence." The reference is to the bigoted lead character in the 70's sitcom "All in the Family." This type of racist and illegal policy has caused thousands upon thousands of African American defendants all over the country to be unjustly convicted.
The question, however, is what do we do about it? In response, I am suggesting that any African American tried by an "All White Jury" to contact the Human Rights Coalition, 4134 Lancaster Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104; Leon Williams' Journal, 327 S. 13th St, Philadelphia, PA 19107; and/or, the PA Prison Society, 245 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19107. Make them aware, so that this issue can be taken to the current D.A., politicians or the court to be considered for review for possible action.
In Berger v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court stands for the proposition that a prosecutor's job is to seek justice and not just convictions. It's our job, with the help of the public to hold them to this standard. Our goal must be to free those victims of this pernicious tactic and to end this form of high tech lynching. Many have been unjustly sentenced to death and life in prison without parole by its use, it is time to stop it.
Please note, do not send any large files, just very brief summaries of your situation that proves you were unjustly tried by an "all white jury."
Omar Askia Ali #AF0814
P.O. Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698-1000