Friday, February 22, 2008

The Greatest Injustice in Human History

If I were developing a list of the people who most need to go away and leave the rest of us alone, it would not begin with Britney Spears or Lindsay Lohan. Nor would I start off with Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Pat Robertson wouldn't earn the top spot and neither would actor-turned-ubiquitous-pitchman Dennis Hopper. Instead, entry number one on my list of people who need to go away would be the 2006 Duke University lacrosse team.

I assume everyone knows the back story. A group of athletes, nearly all white and well heeled, hired two African American exotic dancers for an evening of political symbolism…er, I mean boys-will-be-boys hijinks. Precisely what happened from there is a matter of dispute, but by the time the night ended, racial epithets were allegedly tossed about and one of the dancers persuaded the district attorney to charge three of the players with sexual assault.

The national media, of course, found the spectacle irresistible. There was the racial angle. There was the social class disparity. And of course there was both sex and, allegedly, violence. Suddenly, a purely local crime story morphed into the sort of national morality tale that has been the unique curse of this era of the insatiable 24-hour news channel.

The University, embarrassed by the spectacle, suspended the indicted and offered public assurances that racism and violence against women would not be tolerated. A group of 88 faculty members paid for a "listening statement" in the school paper that, while never making any formal accusation, seemed to presuppose the guilt of the accused. A couple of professors were even further. Student protestors acted out of rage and exhibitionism, picketing the lacrosse players' residence and carrying various sorts of banners, some of which were sophomoric and offensive.

And then it got weird.

Right-wing pundits, obsessed bloggers, and various other flotsam and jetsam of the conservative culture wars saw an opening for their unceasing battle against the phantom demons of campus radicalism and political correctness. They enthusiastically embraced the cause of the indicted players. By this time, it had become increasingly clear that the Durham County prosecutor, Michael Nifong, was pursuing the case a bit too zealously, cutting corners and quite possibly railroading the defendants. But the culture warriors, though they hardly spared Nifong, often seemed more interested in blaming the Duke administration and faculty—and especially the "Gang of 88" professors who published the newspaper ad—for perpetrating the greatest injustice since Sacco and Vanzetti were executed for kidnapping the Lindbergh baby. (Or something like that. I exaggerate, but not by much.)

The case ultimately took care of itself. The indicted players, able to afford first-rate legal counsel, were exonerated after it became clear that Nifong had overstepped all boundaries of prosecutorial propriety. The D.A. himself was ultimately ruined, suffering disbarment and even a very brief jail sentence. The university did what wealthy institutions generally do and paid the accused a settlement to put the whole affair behind them.

All's well that ends well, I suppose, except for a couple of matters. First, a fairly pedestrian case—overreaching prosecutor violates defendants' rights—has now become a permanent rallying crying for the cultural right. Even Roger Clemens' attorney, fending off accusations of steroid use against his superstar client, made reference to Duke, as if the two cases had anything in common other than a tie to competitive athletics.

Second, the 88 professors who signed onto the "listening statement" continue to be smeared by the punditocracy and its minor league affiliates in the blogosphere. Sure, like most Americans, the "Gang of 88" probably assumed that the indicted players were guilty. But their newspaper ad, an attempt to reach out to angry and frightened women and African Americans on and off campus, simply did not approach even the suburbs of slander. It was a poorly-written, jargon-filled, self-righteous screed. But it was measured in the conclusions it drew and clearly allowed for the possibility of exoneration.

But worst of all, the cacophony generated by the right-wing noise machine obscured—perhaps intentionally—the single most important lesson to be learned from the Duke debacle. This was not a story of political correctness run amok. Rather, it was an all-too-typical tale of an overzealous prosecutor, blinded by ambition, who refused to back down even in the face of exculpatory evidence. When this happens to poor, and often African American, defendants, we sometimes learn the truth only after someone innocent is cleared by his DNA after a decade or so of incarceration. Or, absent genetic evidence, that secret may simply reside in the tortured soul of a man languishing behind prison walls for a crime he knows he did not commit. Unfortunately, the real story—the story of rampant prosecutorial misconduct and the need for judicial and public vigilance—was buried beneath layers of hackneyed culture warrior talking points about tenured radicals and their hatred of privileged white males.

As for the players themselves, their names are now entered into the hallowed book of right-wing martyrs, along with Dick Nixon and Joe McCarthy. But they are innocent only in the sense that they broke no laws other than, perhaps, regulations governing the distribution of alcoholic beverages. A bunch of rowdies got in over their heads and almost paid a terrible—and certainly unfair—price for their actions. There is no heroism here and much cause for embarrassment.

Yesterday, the 38 former players who were not indicted decided to reach back into the money pot to see if there was anything left over for them. They filed suit against the city and the university for emotional distress. "They were," said their attorney, "harassed in class by teachers and their fellow students. They were the target of protest marches and threats; they were called rapists and racists; they were surrounded in their own homes by screaming protesters." Evidently, the legal theory is that Duke University should have suspended the First Amendment so as not to hurt anyone's feelings.

I'm sure the lawsuit has pumped a fresh shot of adrenaline into the veins of the culture warriors. The Greatest Injustice in Human History, after all, will not be avenged until every professor who even thought—but never said—that the players were guilty is drawn, quartered, and run out of town. The warriors will not rest until 88 careers are destroyed.

My dog is less tenacious than this—and far less hypocritical. The Duke case was all about people who used bad judgment being punished far out of proportion to the actual offenses they committed. Now the culture warriors, irony-challenged as ever, will not back off until the university and its faculty experience an identical form of injustice.

As for the 38 unindicted athletes, it's time to call off the meretricious money grab. The 2006 Duke lacrosse team dishonored their university and now they need to suck it up and move on. Let the right-wing windbags find some new toys to play with.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My name is Rhonda Fleming, and I am writing this letter and posting it on every news and blog site possible, to seek recognition, aid, and to educate the masses to the unfathomable abuses and crimes that are allowed to be continued without ANY help from our government concerning the murder of my brother in Durham, North Carolina in 2005, and many other crimes involving a very long list of injustices committed by Law Enforcement, and not just in the Carolina's.

The media and world have focused too much attention to this one case, as countless other cases have been completely left at the wayside! During the three years I have spent gathering evidence that they have completely ignored, have made numerous official requests and complaints to countless officials in NC, and Washington DC, all to no avail.

The focus is on one case by a city that is totally corrupt, yet the Department Of Justice, Administrative Office Of The Courts, Congress and many other official legislative, and judicial branches sits idly by, watches and does nothing!

The lawsuit made by the Duke LAX team will shed a bit of light onto the deliberate attempt and conspiracy of many, to care less about the lives, laws, and rights of citizens, and instead use them and us as political pawns on their nefarious road to perdition.

What is the big shock here? The families have every right to sue the city for negligence of an entire political system that failed miserably! This is by far NOT the biggest case to be media worthy, but one that has brought to the light of day a sample of what people in power do every single day and nobody even knows or cares!

Well, I am here to tell the WORLD and every entity watching, that As God is my witness I will not go to my grave without speaking out about the same system that has not only covered over my beloved brother's murder, but have mocked us, threatened us, and continue to deny us the right to know not just how my brother died, but everything that was done and NOT done!

I have contacted EVERY person their is imaginable, excluding the President, and still have been denied not just documents, but the right of a family to know how their loved one met their death, and to know what was done, and not done to his body!

We have been lied to and threatened by the Durham Sheriff's Department, have been shuffled through 3 years and 3 District Attorneys, countless complaints filed to numerous governmental agencies, even our own Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and STILL NOTHING!

We have sent our documents that we have been able to glean from the system to Mr. Seastrand, but due to his obligation to the LAX team is unable to represent us but would if he could. I have sent him, the FBI, and several others copies of the BLUE blood coming from an entrance wound, none from 2 exits wounds, a inconclusive and actually negative GSR screen, proof of fraud and collaborative deception, and have been to hell and back in this maddening chase to expose this city and system for allowing crimes against humanity to go unannounced, while innocent people suffer from the hands of the very powers who took oaths before God and man to protect and serve!

So, here my family and I are coming forward to beg the media to help us to solve my brother's death, and expose a system of debauchery and evils that not only baffle the mind, but leaves you breathless and speechless! I have tried and done all that I can alone, and now have 2 months before the state can be held liable for not just one mans death, but expose a system that feeds off the helpless, then leaves them for dead!

So, I will say the purpose of this letter now is to also gain attention to the enumerable failures within the system, to right a countless injustice done to a plethora of lives that have been left completely devastated, and to make our government be held responsible and accountable for FAILING us the citizens, and the dead who have no voice but scream beyond their graves! The truth is worse than a nightmare because it is REAL and more HORRIFIC than you could ever
have imagined!

Never could I have guessed such wickedness by not just individuals, but extremely organized and calculated, and failed by the very country and leaders we so blindly put our hopes and faith into! My heart bleeds for the truth, and mourns those who have been so wickedly tortured! My brother and countless others did NOT die in vain, and I will be damned if I will let fear keep me from Justice For Jack, but JUSTICE For ALL!

Imagine instead, your child or loved one MURDERED, and not only does it take Law Enforcement over a YEAR to send ONE single report, they LIE to you from the beginning, and not only REFUSE to do any investigating, but fail to adhere to ANY role of conduct and protocol, then threaten you and LAUGH at you?!

Yes, I have the utmost sympathy for the team, but let us not forget just how many OTHER cases have been corrupted by the exact same system! WHAT has been done to answer and solve the murders of my brother, Janet Araboa, and Michelle Young?! What voices have they now they are dead?!
Where is the outrage, and public and media attention for our families?!

Nifong is by far the only knave on the long list of miscreant marauders who care nothing about rights of citizens, and care only for what is in "their" best interest! Wake up people and ask why the Department of Justice has not intervened, and why do our nations leaders just watch and do nothing about an abjectly corrupt and politically ran city?!

I never would have imagined what I now know, and am sick that nobody has taken our pleas, and heard our cries! Our loved ones not just dead, but murdered, and we will never see them hear them, or feel their touch ever again! Unfair?! Unjust?! Impossible?! The cesspool of corruption flows deep into a murky quagmire of wickedness that should expose our own government for allowing it to continue!

True and REAL crimes against humanity ranging from organized crime and drugs, to kidnapping, slavery, prostitution, and murders for global sale of body parts! Google human trafficking in organs, and learn exactly what is going on behind closed doors "the powers that be" never want to see opened! The reality is not only horrific and unimaginable, it IS happening every single day across the world, and Durham is just one of the many links in this chain of the grisly, dark underworld!

I have fought for nearly 3 years to restore my beloved brother, and best friend's respect, and JUSTICE he, and all of the others desperately deserve, and will never quit until something is done and things are changed! NOBODY deserves what mine and countless other families have endured, and for us I am begging the people and media to make a difference and care about all of the other serious matters that have fallen to the wayside for needless years!

Where IS the SBI report on my brother? Where is the details of what was done to his body and organs after he was killed? What was done to investigate his death? What was done to provide the family with documents and reports we should not just have public access to, but to every iota of information, as they closed his death as a "suicide" yet did no autopsy and lied they did?

What was done to my brother is so horrifically twisted and unreal that the city has gone out of it's way to not only deny him an investigation, but to hide facts, alter reports, and fail to adhere to any semblance of protocol?!
Where is the OUTRAGE for our family and others of unsolved and purposely neglected murders, just from 2005?!
Does anybody out here give a damn for us?!

Imagine instead, your child or loved one MURDERED, and not only does it take Law Enforcement over a YEAR to send ONE single report, they LIE to you from the beginning, and not only REFUSE to do any investigating, but fail to adhere to ANY role of conduct and protocol, then threaten you and LAUGH at you?!

Something MUST be done, and I have come forward to beg the media and government to hear what I have to say about my brother's case, and the crimes being done to many innocent victims that MUST be acknowledged, reported, investigated, and DESERVE action and resolution!

To contact me directly, please send SERIOUS media and legal inquiries to:
Rhonda Fleming
Cleveland, Ohio
Sister of Allen Jackson Croft Jr, murdered in Durham on May 11, 2005 fighting for JUSTICE
For legal reference please refer to Mr. Ekstrand for personal contact:
Robert C. Ekstrand
Firm: Ekstrand & Ekstrand
Address: 811 Ninth Street, Suite 260
Durham, NC 27705
Phone: (919) 416-4590
Fax: (919) 416-4591