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  • Yvens Alex Saintil

#UberInjustice: Mikey

Updated: Jul 5

über

1. being a superlative example of its kind or class.

2. To an extreme or excessive degree.

injustice

1. absence of justice : violation of right or of the rights of another : UNFAIRNESS

2. an unjust act: WRONG

#Uberinjustice: Mikey, was born out of the compulsion to document a family’s journey through a far too common phenomenon in the black community—a loved one, usually a young man, have found himself in the grasps of the criminal justice system. In our current society, racial bias in the justice system is seldomly addressed or acknowledged, yet it exists today as it did a hundred years ago. Today, scholars like Michelle Alexander, Cornel West, and Bryan Stevenson, continue to point out the systemic mass incarceration of black men and the perpetual marginality and systemic racialized social control—fueled by the justice system. A system that once you are introduced, the chains and shackles are forever...regardless if convicted or not. 

Michael Hancock II, better known as Mikey, is a father, brother, and son, with no criminal background. In the eyes of white America, he is the standard-bearer for the black community—a step above his peers with arrests record. Especially those with felony offenses. One summer night in June 2018, Mikey defended himself from an aggressive attack that resulted in the death of the attacker. In Mikey’s mind that night, he was justified. However, in the controlling and oppressive eye of the justice system, and discretion of those appointed to provide justice—he was deemed a criminal. And for 15 months, he was uprooted from his family, friends, school, and thrown into a system designed to keep him and people who look like him in a revolving cycle of recidivism. His only crime that night—being black. And because of the color of his skin, his account of the events that occurred that night was not factual. And for over a year and a half, a highly fabricated and embellished story was concocted by the judicial system to criminalize and dehumanize him. Except this time, the plot to send Mikey to prison for the rest of his life was thwarted by a jury. 

However, the outcome of Michael Hancock’s case is not the norm. His family is well educated, veterans of the United States Air Force, and are outstanding members of their communities. Now, imagine Mikey had a prior arrests record, or his father and siblings, or cousins. The outcome of his trial would have certainly not been favorable for him or his family. Because of what happened to Mikey, my future interactions with law enforcement will forever be altered. Let me be clear, I am not scared of the police. However, I consciously or subconsciously find myself avoiding any interaction with law enforcement—not because I have committed a crime or plan to in the future, but because of the possibility of a simple interaction escalating to the use of deadly force. 

I have concluded that there is no set-standard on to how to interact with the police—unless you’re black, that is! Black people have had to adopt rules of engagement, a term I learned very well from my time in the Middle East with the United States Army. Rules of engagement refer to orders issued by amilitary authority that delineate when, where, how, and against whom military force may be used. As well as implications for what actions soldiers may take on their own authority and what directives may be issued by a commanding officer. 

2020 is no different than 1920, and if your skin color has even the slightest hint of black or brown, you should know rules of engagement. Why?! I’ll give you 15 reasons why; De’Von Bailey, Freddie Gray; Sam Dubose; Philando Castile; Terrence Crutcher; Alton Sterling; Jamar Clark; Jeremy McDole; William Chapman II; Walter Scott; Eric Harris; Tamir Rice; Akai Gurley; Michael Brown; and Eric Garner. Discriminatory and racialized practices were not eliminated, but simply rebranded. This country’s long history of oppressing Black Americans using systems of control like the justice system is running full steam into a new decade, as the number of deaths by police increase, and the number of black and brown men in the system continue to rise. And as long as these practices are not confronted, our voices will continue to silenced, and innocent people will continue to be incarcerated by the masses, and black and brown families will continue to be ripped apart—in the name of justice. Unless that is, we acknowledge the reality of mass incarceration of black people...one person at a time.


©2020 by Yvens Alex Saintil