The Misconception of Justice

"With liberty and justice for all” are the final words of the Pledge of Allegiance that many patriotic Americans recite and declare daily. As defined by the Webster dictionary, justice is the maintenance or administration of what is deserved. A more conventional definition of justice is the administration of a punishment that is justifiable by the crime committed. Although both definitions are similar, the government fails to properly execute justice for victims of police brutality. Thus, leaving the community to fight for the justice that is supposed to be constitutionally theirs.

Police brutality is the abuse of power with excessive and unnecessary force from those in authority. Though police brutality has been a nationwide issue for centuries, this dehumanizing tactic has revitalized due to millennials publicly expressing their disgust and unfathomable disappointment with justice not being served. A prime example of an injustice due to police brutality is the death of Trayvon Martin. On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin entered a 7- Eleven convenience store dressed in a dark grey hoodie seeking to purchase a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Tea. While on his way home, George Zimmerman, an off-duty police officer, racially profiled Trayvon Martin as a suspicious young man and began to follow him. As moments passed, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin eventually crossed paths and became involved in an altercation. That altercation turned deadly as George Zimmerman pulled out a firearm and shot Trayvon Martin resulting in his death. With the notorious statement from George Zimmerman, “it was self-defense", and the racism that America was built upon, these aspects influenced the non-indictment of George Zimmerman. Fast forwarding six years later, the community is still protesting for justice for Trayvon Martin in his death.

A similar incident occurred just two years later on August 9, 2014. Michael Brown, a recent high school graduate, was spending the summer with his grandmother. While walking in his grandmother’s neighborhood, a police officer aggressively approached Michael Brown demanding he walk on the sidewalk instead of the street. When Michael Brown did not comply, he obstructed his power of authority by trying to instill fear within Michael Brown by grabbing his neck and threatening to shoot him. As Michael Brown tried to pull away, the officer shot him. While trying to find safety and expressing to the officer that he was unarmed, the police officer shot Michael Brown again multiple times resulting in his death. Similar to Trayvon Martin’s case, the police officer was not indicted due to a “justice” system that fails to implement the act of justice for those who have been victimized to the dehumanizing and fatal acts of police brutality.

The justice system has failed its nation so much that citizens feel as if they have to take matters into their own hands in order for justice to be served. A very prominent organization that conducts protests against these injustices is the “Black Lives Matter” organization. Originally focusing on the discrimination and unjust treatment of LGBTQ citizens, this organization has shifted towards a racial project that specifically focuses on fighting for the justice of victims involved in police brutality. “Black Lives Matter” has brought vast awareness and national attention to police brutality with the hopes of justice finally being served for victims such as Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and others. Overall, America’s government has failed to execute the definition of what it truly means to seek justice. Instead of administering punishments that are deserved, the justice system does the complete opposite. As a result, it leaves the people of a nation to question if America is truly a country “with liberty and justice for all”.