Justice, in Florida, seems to be as elusive as the mythical unicorn or Big Foot or even the famed Sasquatch. Sometimes supposedly spotted, but never actually caught. Fortunately for Southwest Florida's U.S. Representative Tray Ragel, he was in Washington D.C. when he committed his crime and his arrest took place. But what if he wasn't? What if he was home in the Sunshine State. Would justice have been any different?
Ask unarmed Black Trayvon Martin in his confrontation pistol packing white George Zimmerman in Florida. Or how about Marissa Alexander, the African-American woman who was arrested and sentenced to 20 years for discharging a firearm as a warning shot while being confronted by her abusive husband using the privileges of Stand Your Ground, in Florida?
Florida is a strange state and the case of Florida Rep. Trey Radel is the latest piece to the "What's up with Florida?" puzzle.
Rep Trey Radel (R-Fla.) pleaded guilty on Wednesday morning to possession of cocaine before a D.C. Superior Court judge and will be on supervised probation for one year.
He faced a maximum of 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, but instead got probation. Now I'm not against that sentence. What I am wondering is what if Trey Radel was Black. First off, let's look at how the arrest went down:
The Associated Press, citing an unnamed DEA official, said Radel allegedly bought cocaine from a dealer in the Dupont Circle (Washington suburb) area who had been previously arrested as part of a federal probe. “Later that night, federal authorities went to his apartment and informed him that he would be facing criminal charges related to his purchase of cocaine,” the AP said.
If he had been in his own So. Florida district, do you think federal authorities would just go an knock on a Black citizen's door and "notify" him that he'd be facing criminal charges? More likely, his front door would be busted in by 10 armed agents, he'd be thrown to the ground, shot if he struggled and his entire home tossed for any other possible violations. If they didn't find any, they'd either have physically assaulted the cuffed man or planted something on him or his place, most likely a weapon so they could boost the charges.
And what about the wrist slap penalty? Rehabilitation is cheaper and more effective than imprisonment. We should all be for that. But that option is offered far less for Blacks than Whites.
According to the Human Rights Watch:
- African Americans constituted 53.5 percent of all persons who entered prison because of a drug conviction
- Blacks were 10.1 times more likely than whites to enter prison for drug offenses
- A black man was 11.8 times more likely than a white man to enter prison for drug offenses
I'm just saying, maybe there's something to be learned from this congressman's case and sentencing. Be white and don't be in Florida.
It sure would be nice if the law enforcement would add compassion and patience to their skill set list -- like they did for Trey Radel. But I'm not sure Florida is ready for that. So luckily for the congressman, he picked a good place to get nailed.