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Protests Aren't 'Mob Justice,' They're 'Rage and Despair'

'NYT' column takes issue with term used by attorney general in Breonna Taylor case
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 24, 2020 8:42 AM CDT

(Newser) – "We hoped that for once, justice would be on our side. This is yet another disappointing reminder that it's not." In a New York Times op-ed, Melanye Price is speaking of a Kentucky grand jury's decision Wednesday to indict just one police officer involved in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and on charges unrelated to her death. Price zeroes in on Kentucky Attorney General David Cameron's use of the term "mob justice" when addressing protesters at a presser about the decision. "If we simply act on emotion or outrage, there is no justice," Cameron, who is Black, said. "Mob justice is not justice." But Price pushes back on that characterization of demonstrations, explaining that Black Americans are simply filled with "rage and despair" after "consuming a regular diet of Black death."

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Price looks back at the real history of "mob justice" used in the Southern states, specifically via lynching and other "racial terror tactics." That's not comparable in any way, Price says, to what protesters today are doing, or seeking. "Mr. Cameron ... should know that to suggest that protesters are nothing but a mob dehumanizes the people calling for justice and respect," she writes. Price notes there's nothing Black Americans can do to adequately prepare for incidents like these—"what can prepare a person for the proper response to heavily armed cops in their home in the middle of the night?"—and that, once more, they're left reeling in the all-too-familiar aftermath. "It's painful to realize that kneeling for the national anthem can cost a football player like Colin Kaepernick his career, but a police officer firing a deadly shot into an innocent young woman's home late at night will face no consequences." (Read the full column here.)

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