A panel of 11 white people and one African-American could not find it in themselves to hold Slager accountable for this summary execution, could not bring themselves to say that this black life mattered.
The United States locks up a larger proportion of its citizens than any other nation in the world. Mass incarceration has exacted a terrible cost — on state budgets, on black neighborhoods, on economic and social justice.
For decades, African-Americans, including those in North Charleston, have complained that police shoot black men with little provocation and then falsely claim the officers did so out of fear for their lives. This time there was video.
This is the week that the Confederacy, and slavery, suffered permanent defeat. Yet these two stories are reminders of both the nation’s original sin and the prejudices, pathologies, and policy failures that continue to haunt us.