The celebration of Martin Luther King’s Birthday was an opportunity to celebrate Dr. King’s life, recognize his incredible contributions to our world and come to grips with the reality that our nation is failing to make much, if any, progress when it comes to the Dream that Dr. King laid out for our society.
A prime example of that failure is America’s infatuation with and dependence on incarceration. As noted in a recent Atlantic Monthly article, “while the United States has 5 percent of the world’s population we house 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”
Highlighting the myriad problems with our country’s criminal justice system is something that Capital Prep Principal Perry is actually quite articulate about. He often tweets about the unfair and racist approach taken against young African-American Males.
And he is right…
But the problem is not simply a system that unfairly targets Blacks. As the Atlantic Monthly story explained, according the Journal of Crime & Delinquency, “By age 23, nearly 50 percent of America’s black males, 44 percent of Hispanic males, and 38 percent of white males have been arrested.”
There is no doubt that we are surrounded by racism but equally appalling is the fact that we’ve seen the creation of an underclass and that regardless of race, Americans without money and status are treated very differently than those who have the wealth, status and prestige to do as they wish.
Capital Prep Principal Steve Perry is living proof of this double standard.
When Steve Perry tweeted his now infamous threat that he was going to “strap up” and “there will be head injuries” he wasn’t arrested.
In fact, despite a call for an investigation, his employer, the Hartford Board of Education apparently took no action at all.
Perry’s Tweet was as follows;
Dr. Steve Perry@DrStevePerry The only way to lose a fight is to stop fighting. All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.
When Perry was confronted with mounting criticism about his words he Tweeted WNPR reporter John Dankosky, “@johndankosky John, does the word metaphor mean anything to you? I really and truly used to think that you were a real actual news guy.”
By comparison, look what happened to student at Doss High School in Louisville, Kentucky.
According to media accounts, an 18 year old “Doss High School student has been arrested after police say he posted multiple threats on Twitter.”
“Is time to get da [expletive] straps out [expletive] heads about to get blown away!!!” “Doss ain’t ready for wat I got coming to em,”
A local television news report explained that, “The student was arrested and charged with terroristic threatening… A letter was sent home with students Monday afternoon, explaining the situation and saying students were never in danger.”
The kid said he was simply joking, but the “joke” got him arrested.
Google the words “student arrested,” “twitter” and “joking” and you will find dozens and dozens of situations in which students were arrested, sometimes for specific Twitter threats and other times for more generalized threats. But joking or not, the individuals were arrested.
But lets face the reality of the situation. The young Kentucky man’s Tweet, “Is time to get da [expletive] straps out [expletive] heads about to get blown away!!!” is not very different from Perry’s Tweet, “All this did was piss me off. It’s so on. Strap up, there will be head injuries.”
Weather permitting the Hartford Board of Education is finally scheduled to discuss Principal Steve Perry in executive session tonight. That discussion will take place behind closed doors and it is not clear the particular issues that will be discussed.
But the sad truth is that no matter what happens, in present day America, wealth and status kept Steve Perry from being arrested for something that probably would have gotten a student arrested, put in handcuffs and led away.
That is the double standard.
That is exactly the type of discrimination that Martin Luther King Jr. was talking about fifty years ago.