A roundtable talk on racial injustice and the justice system was held in the Levan Center on Nov. 28. Four different professors from Bakersfield College gave their insight on racial inequality in the justice system.
Neal Stanifer started the discussion with the topic of jay-walking. He mentioned how the name jay-walking was given referring to the bird and that it typically meant stupid and arrogant. This name was given to get pedestrians to stay out of the street because nobody wanted to be. Considered a jay. However just like any other law people still jay-walked but the cops mainly watched black neighborhoods. These areas usually had less money, therefore, no sidewalks forcing people to jay-walk. Stanifer then went into the Jim Crow law and Vagrancy laws these were meant to keep the blacks in order.
“Blacks could be arrested for acts of mischief. What were acts of mischief? Whatever the cops said it was.” Stanifer said while explaining the different laws.
Once they were arrested they were put on farms making it to where blacks were still working the plantations.
Michael Harvath came up next to speak about the shooting of black suspects. He brought up an economist who studied how much more likely it is that black suspects will be shot more than whites. This included getting data from the counties he studied to find out how many people were stopped and why they were stopped. Whereas the economist was expecting more blacks to be shot it came out that whites were actually 20% more likely to get shot. Harvath pointed that even though whites were more likely to be shot blacks were more likely to have other force done to them. Republicans used this study to say that this proves that police are not prejudiced while the liberals said he was wrong.
Next was Erin Miller, she asked the audience we if they felt they have a system of injustice rather than a justice system. Some of them said that there was a justice system and for the most part cops do their jobs others felt differently. They said it is a system of injustice because of how many times unarmed men of color and being killed by the police. There should be a change being made but it just keeps happening. Miller then talked about black lives matter and to her they do but she brought up the point that if black lives matter first they need to matter to black people themselves.
Lastly, Steven Holmes came on to speak about the way how there is racial injustice inside of a justice system. He talked about how there is one national government then 50 state government and that one aspect of the system does not define the whole justice system. He then used pie charts to break down the different crimes and convictions in California divided by race.
The event closed with the audience asking the professors different questions and bringing up their own opinions on some of the topics.
“I think it’s important to have talks like this so we can see different views and get more insight into the justice system.” Aamira Lomax, a BC student said after the event.