Community & Politics

Community addresses the elephant in the room: Being biased on the Bench

Tensions are heating up as local Florida communities gear up to discuss, and challenge the issues of “Racial disparities in sentencing”. Residents are being made aware as to how severe being “Biased on the Bench” effects their lively hoods, and the issue has struck a nerve among many residents who say Florida’s justice system doesn’t fairly serve all. Residents have reached their breaking point, and say they will not allow the justice system to continue to harass, bully, and threaten their constitutional rights, and their rights to be treated equal, and fairly by an unjust system.  Many argue that Florida’s laws are set in place to target minority communities specifically to target, and railroad the African American communities.

The current issues involves being “Biased on the bench, and the support of the “Death Penalty”, in which residents like Alex Goins of Orlando, Kayk Wilson of Rockledge, and Kelechi Brothers of Cocoa, Florida have all spoken out in regards to these issues. As the voices of their communities, they’re boldly taking a stand, and stepping up to fight for change. During a heated debate that played out on Facebook after a recent post to promote the upcoming event to address the issues of “Being biased on the bench” was shared amongst friends, the leaders didn’t hesitate to speak out.

The conversation was sparked by a public debate in regards to the current issue of the “Death Penalty” –Some residents weren’t in favor of the conditions of the punishment of one being sentenced to “Death”, and others were okay with it, arguing that the death penalty is necessary for the crimes that has been set in place.

The judicial system is messed up yes 100%.. BUT when it comes to the death penalty that is a part of our maximum sentencing punishment and it is the prosecutor’s duty to charge and prosecute those that fit the death penalty description and let a panel of jurors decide their fate.” –Anonymous 

In response to this comment, Alex Goins, a project manager, community advocate leader, and a former resident of Rockledge argued, “Why do you think its only 11 states with the death penalty? After the Supreme Court of the United States struck down all states’ death penalty procedures in the Furman v. Georgia ruling, essentially being found guilty, and imposing a penalty of death simultaneously was unconstitutional. Florida was the first state to draft a newly written statute on August 12, 1972. —In 1996 Florida did the same thing, and said it was unconstitutional… that’s what she (state attorney) is saying, basically tell me in the Constitution what crime or act constitutes death, not an opinion or emotion.”.

Alex Goins (Left) with Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings (Right)

Goins went on to say, “you have to prove the death penalty Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. For instance, the Casey Anthony case, she killed her little girl and got off, because the state attorney tried Murder One, premeditated, instead of manslaughter. If the state attorney would have tried manslaughter or murder 2 she would have been convicted, but because the evidence wasn’t concrete she got off completely. The system is screwed up and the state attorney understands that, she’s not completely against the death penalty, she simply wants a more structured system, and or guidelines in the death penalty process”.

Kelechi Brothers, a resident of cocoa, Florida, logistics manager at Harris Corp, community activist, and a former resident of Flint, MI jumped in on the the debate adding that, “The law gives State Attorneys prosecutorial discretion. And as her fact based reasons for not pursuing the death penalty were made clear, she was within her rights to make that decision.–University of Florida Law Professor Kenneth Nunn said he’s been discussing this case in his classes, talking about the breadth of prosecutorial discretion and ethics”.

Kelechi Brothers, Cocoa Florida

Brothers went on to say, “What the governor did here is unprecedented. As far as I know, no governor has involved the 1905 law to remove a case because the governor disagreed with the state attorney’s exercise of his or her discretion to charge or not charge a particular case,” Nunn said. “Under the Florida Constitution, that power is reserved to the elected state attorneys in the various judicial circuits. This is an extraordinary expansion of gubernatorial power at the expense of all the state attorneys. So, they ought to be concerned. My guess is, however, they are not. They probably view this in partisan political terms.”

Back in November of 2017, The state of Florida elected it’s first ever African American prosecutor–Aramis Ayala​, whom shortly after being sworn into office came under fire after she announced in a press conference that she wouldn’t be seeking the death penalty in any of her cases. This shocked a community, and surprised voters who supported her during her campaign, because it came just before the first degree murder case of Lieutenant Debra Clayton.

The Orlando, Florida Lieutenant was killed by 41 year old Markeith Loyd who had also been accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend. Many residents felt that this was a crime that certainly deserved a sentence of death.

Click link to Read Article

Orlando Police Chief furious that death penalty will not be an option for murder suspect

Kayk Wilson, a Brevard county resident of Rockledge, and a Florida Institute of Technology graduate hosts a podcast where she publicly addresses current issues that effects her community. She continues to speak out during her weekly podcasts to inform the local community as to the severity of how being biased while in any political office is detrimental to the rights of African Americans. As a  victim of racial profiling, her fight is to end injustice, and allow equal rights, and fair treatment for everyone.

Wilson was stopped by Rockledge officers leaving her neighborhood to make a quick stop to the store. The officers pulled her over, and stated that they needed to bring the K-9 unit to search her vehicle. not knowing what she had been pulled over for, and terrified about the entire ordeal she cooperated with police, and was let go.

Kayk Wilson, Rockledge, Florida

Wilson’s podcast discussions also address cultural issues in regards to outside countries, including issues she briefly mentioned in a recent podcast that she reminds her audience are still going on, like the war in Syria, and the recent slave trades in Liberia that seem to have all been forgotten.

 “There’s a need for our people to be educated on the things happening right now, my mission is to help bring more awareness and give others the opportunity that someone gave me. There’s a great need for our youth to know their heritage and fight the fight our ancestors started many years ago”, Wilson said.

“If what you see doesn’t upset you then you’re walking with your eyes closed”

–Kayk Wilson

Brevard County residents will be attending the event to address the issues they say, have been going on for far too long.

Bias ON THE BENCH March 17th 2018 9am Zion Orthodox Primitive Baptist Cdhurch…. featuring Aramis Ayala​ is the first African-American State Attorney in history. Michael Braga​ is the Pulitzer Prize-winning Investigations Editor from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which published the groundbreaking 2016 study Bias On the Bench. Don’t miss this awesome event.

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