Tuesday, August 31, 2010

U.S. v. Armstrong (9th Cir. - Aug. 31, 2010)

Race doesn't matter. We're a post-racial society. Right?

"[Richard] Armstrong, Michael Bullard, and James Whitewater went to Wal-Mart around midnight on a Saturday night to buy orange juice. In the juice aisle, they noticed Raylen Smith, an African American man, shopping for milk. Smith did not interact with the three strangers but noticed they were talking and laughing among themselves. He was not aware that they were using racially derogatory remarks like 'spook' and 'nigger' in reference to him. On the way to the checkout aisle, Bullard told his companions that he would fight Smith, and the group began to discuss the idea. As Smith got in line behind them, he noticed Bullard staring at him. Smith did not stare back or say anything to the group.

After Armstrong, Whitewater, and Bullard purchased the orange juice, they waited outside the store for Smith. When Smith left the store and walked to the parking lot, he was confronted by Bullard, who flicked his cigarette at Smith and asked, 'Do you know what country you’re in?' Smith, surprised and fearful, attempted to run away. The three men chased after Smith, Armstrong yelling, 'Get him, get that fucking nigger.' Bullard caught up with Smith first, at the end of the parking lot, and tackled him; both rolled down a hill toward a canal. Armstrong and Whitewater approached the fight moments later and began hitting and kicking Smith while he was on the ground. The three assailants beat Smith until he was unconscious. The assailants then fled the scene, returning to Armstrong’s apartment. . . . and congratulating each other on the attack."

This isn't a story from Mississippi in the 1950s. It's from the Ninth Circuit in 2010. Idaho, to be exact.

Don't give me that "Idaho is the Mississippi of the Ninth Circuit" stuff either. While Idaho surely has more than its fair share of right-wing racists, I'm quite confident these exact events could -- and do -- happen throughout the Ninth. At Wal-Marts as well as plenty of other places as well.