As the commander-in-chief douses with gasoline the racial fire that has consumed America and led to two recent mass shootings by at least one known white supremacist, this country’s judicial system continues to be tone deaf when it comes to the plight of Black men. This is obvious in the case of Gaston Tucker, a 32-year-old Chicago man who was on parole and allegedly caught with a pistol during a traffic stop. After reviewing his phone calls, prosecutors used what he said against him to argue for a no bond.
According to a Chicago Tribune piece by Jason Meisner, Gaston was recorded by phone call reflecting on the stop that led to his subsequent arrest. Gaston supposedly said over the phone, “Everything happens for a reason man…what I was doing this summertime, man, I would have gotten caught shooting that [firearm]…that would have been life in prison…Boy, I quit. I ain’t carrying [a gun] no more.”
Tucker didn’t know this phone call would be used against him. So, this is as genuine as it can get. For all intents and purposes, this sounds like a man resigned to his fate, a man who knows where he went wrong and knows what he needs to do to get better. This is a man who is beyond the denial stage. At this point, he is in the stage where a helping hand is all he needs. Gaston has been punished his whole life by the streets of Chicago, by the judicial system, by society. He understands he has made bad decisions that could have been worse. Now, he wants to do better. This is what a compassionate person would get from the phone call he allegedly made.
However, the judge , U.S. Magistrate Maria Valdez said, “[Gaston Tucker] feels that he is stuck between the crosshairs of Chicago” and used Gaston’s supposed phone call against him as a reason to instate a no-bond order for the man. Instead of feeling compassion for a man who wants to do right and knows he did wrong, this judge punished him for feeling stuck. Haven’t we all felt stuck before in our lives?
Gaston’s situation is not unique. His story is one told every day dozens of times across this country where Black boys and Black men pay a price heavier than what their white counterparts pay. This is a country where a judge argues that a white man convicted of rape deserves a light sentence because he could have a potentially bright future and comes from a wealthy family or where a judge can sentence a white man to probation after that white man kills four and paralyzes two while drunk driving and flees the scene and the judge agrees that the man was too rich to know right from wrong. While the Black man or boy is punished for being poor and doing wrong, the white man or white boy is slapped on the hand and given a light sentence if any at all.
There is no love or compassion for Black people in this criminal justice system. The same burdens that were put upon Black people by the system are the same burdens the system continues to punish Black people for. Gaston Tucker is a prime example that when the system has the chance to help a Black person at his lowest, the system instead kicks and spits on him for being so lowly.
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