In watching yesterday’’s activities commemorating the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington in 1963. I was reminded of the part of the Dr. King’s speech that is rarely ever mentioned by talking heads and historical pundits.
“In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our Republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes black men as well as white men would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is OBVIOUS today that America has defaulted on this promissory note. Insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the negro people a bad check which has come back marked insufficient funds.”
The speech at the March on Washington over 50 years ago which was held to bring attention to the issues of jobs, economic economic justice, and the right to vote.
Fast-forward to today and nothing much has changed; and, that “check” is still bouncing all over town.
The injustices that people of color face today are no less today, and of late, have become too frequent and too strident to continue to ignore.
While the Trayvon Martin case shocked many awake who had been sleeping having drank deeply from the cup of complacency, there are so many other cases and instances where people of color are being met with injustice; and where families and lives are being destroyed and dreams deferred; or, put on indefinite hold. Fortunately, however, not all of these cases of injustice involve someone’s death or violent actions.
There are those of us who bought into the dream of independence by working hard and going to school; and maybe starting our own businesses as a means of creating success and forging that path to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Cases where no one is killed or hurt aren’t as popular or stir the emotions as quickly as the Trayvon Martin case or Amadou Diallo or Sean Bell. However arguably the path of devastation left behind as a result of being caught up in a system that is not the embodiment of “justice for all,” but is instead a means by which a privileged few get to benefit off the efforts of others.
I just recently had a conversation with Olivia Hodges who is part of a group out in Colorado that is working to support the IRP6. No, that name probably won’t sound familiar because the mainstream media up to date has not deigned to cover this story. Not enough blood and guts maybe?
The six individuals in this case , were part of a software company, Investigative Resource Planning (IRP), that was in the midst of securing government contracts with the Philadelphia Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security. The software was being demoed for both agencies and was in the final stages of being modified for use specific to the agencies that were interested. During this process in order to facilitate the numerous changes in deliverable s requested by these agencies, some of the work was contracted out via recruiting agencies which is standard practice to get projects completed in a timely fashion and get people on the ground working on a project that needs updates and modifications on a frequent basis prior to a final production version going live.
It is common practice in the corporate world to do business on Net 30 terms. For those of you who don’t know this means that I can receive goods and services and as long as I pay for them within a 30 day time period everything is good. There are instances in the lucrative land of government contracts where those terms get extended based on a company’s Dun and Bradstreet Report which is a form of credit report and speaks to a company’s solvency. This group was extended credit under this guise and this allowed them to continue to work on the software that was set to be distributed to two major government agencies.
Then the bottom dropped out. One of the employment agencies decided that they wanted to be paid immediately. There were emails sent threatening legal action if they were not paid immediately these email threats included the threat to destroy the company completely. The amount being requested was in excesWhen that amount was not tendered by the time stipulated in the email communications that were sent (and are available to read here) The case somehow wound up being at the US Attorney’s office and somehow wound up being a case regarding mail fraud and wire fraud. The IRP6 found themselves staring down federal charges stemming from a case of non-payment that should have at best been a civil case but now wound up being so much more.
I am including links to the court documents and case information that is available on this and even if you don’t like to read you should READ these. Amongst the glaring issues in this case are the constitutional rights of the IRp6 being violated (5th amendment, speedy trial). There is also destruction of court records (the exchange in which the judge orders one of the defendants to testify against himself). The biggest tragedy of this is that these six individuals are all as of right now sitting in federal jail convicted of charges that are highly questionable and deeply troubling.
While they are awaiting appeal a mounting surge of support from their community is what is needed to shed some light onto this case and scrutinize the judicial process and all that has gone on so far.
Support from the community needs to kick into full gear and not only on the behalf of the IRP6 but those for whom justice has proven to be illusive. Out of the community has come a group called A Just Cause which seeks balance and accountability in the judicial process for ALL.
This case doesn’t have any dead bodies or bloodshed, but the damage to the families and friends is still the same. This case doesn’t have a celebrity figurehead to spearhead efforts and advocate for them to finally get the justice that they deserve. As such, that shouldn’t prevent them from being served fairly by the laws that are supposed to apply to us all. After all, as Martin Luther King Jr. once famously said, ”Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Unfortunately in communities of color we know this all too well; but, it’s time for this to change. And that’s change that I can believe in.