Anderson Cooper weighs in on race, justice and Kennett, MO

My friend John just called report the Dunklin County courthouse in Kennett, Missouri (where I grew up), is surrounded by TV satellite trucks covering the trial of Heather Ellis. I posted on this a couple of weeks ago and have no idea what what really happened at the local Wal-Mart. I guess that’s what the trial is deciding. It sounds like CNN’s Anderson Cooper might have already have a verdict:

“… Kennett, Missouri has created both a pattern and practice of disparate treatment toward people of color. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the police of Kennett, Missouri search African Americans more than twice as often as whites (14% vs. 6%) even though they possess contraband at roughly the same rate (25% vs. 20%). Across the state of Missouri, African-Americans are searched almost twice as often as whites (12% vs. 7%), even though they are LESS likely to possess contraband (17% vs. 20%). Attorney General Eric Holder should get involved by conducting a thorough investigation of the entire Southeast Missouri judicial system.”

“My simple contention is this: Had Heather Ellis been a Duke Lacrosse player getting a little rowdy on spring break, I doubt very seriously that she would be facing this kind of prison time. America has a two-tiered justice system, where people of color are being given the bottom rung of the justice ladder. Our inability to let go of our racially horrific past is causing us to destroy our future. The Heather Ellis case is merely a symbol of a much larger problem.”

Story from yesterday on the Daily Dunklin Democrat website. I’ll update this with a verdict if and when there is one.

5 thoughts on “Anderson Cooper weighs in on race, justice and Kennett, MO

  1. From my friend John, a life-long resident of Kennett, MO:

    “For the past 7 years, the First Methodist Church, along with others in the community, have put on a Christmas Party for people in the area. They can sign up at the local food distribution center or at the migrant Center, etc.

    This year we had about 1,800 people go through the doors. Kids get to pick up gifts for parents, parents pick out gifts for kids, etc. Then they all get gift wrapped. The community probably kicked in about $8,000 for this project and this is the 7th year.

    Mix was about 40% Hispanic, 40% Black and 20% White. But no media (showed up) to cover this event and how things are done in this “racist” town. We didn’t see Anderson Cooper anywhere. No headlines in this story.”

  2. Are you sure she’s married to a Trooper? I don’t see any Ellis listings in the Troop E area in my personnel directory. Either way, there are things you cannot do in this country no matter what is being thrown at you. You don’t cut in line no matter who you are or what the reason (you said “who hasn’t”…well I never have), and when the Police get called, you don’t ever lay your hands on them unless you want to get arrested for assualting a Police officer, no matter what they say.

    I had posted the racial profiling numbers for the Kennet, MO police department that I found in the Attorney General’s office report, and I won’t argue that it certainly points in the direction of being a racially biased organization. They are biased…no way around that because the reports show it. That being said, not every place in this state is like that, and I don’t like the media throwing everyone into the same pile as in the case of Anderson Cooper’s report.

    Its unfortunate that all of this happened, and impossible to tell exactly what would have prevented it, be it not cutting in line, or store management and law enforcement keeping things equal and not bringing race into it. At the end of the day, its a “chicken or egg” situation and both parties involved should learn something from it. The Kennet Police Department and Kennet Wal-Mart management should learn to treat people equally, and Ms. Ellis should learn to back down when challenged with small (at least it was small in the beginning…) disagreements like one concerning her place in line. To take that a step further, learning something from a situation like this means nothing if they don’t apply in order to prevent situations like this from happening in the future.

  3. Just suppose Heather Ellis was your daughter, your wife, your mother, your grandmother and she was treated in the same way at the Walmart??? How would you feel. She was buying a few things for her Mom and so she cut in line, who hasn’t done the same thing? However, it happened in a small town of Kennett, Missouri, where there’s 13% African/Americans, but it could have been, Asian/American, Native/American,Middle Eastern/American, Mexican/American, etc… No one wants to feel less than, and called derogatory names while making purchases at the Walmart. This young person who may or may not have an anger problem, has a teaching certificate and is married to a Trooper and she never had been arrested before which makes me wonder why the anger would just surface all at once. She could have been totally, subjected to a situation of mob hatred. Some people just do not like people of certain races, especially, given that 5 police officers were there calling her names, telling her to go back to the ghetto. Perhaps, they were jealous because she had left the area to get an education, and they were stuck in Kennett, Mo at the Walmart???

  4. The ACLU should either check their numbers, or be more specific… The last report that came out from the Missouri State Highway Patrol on racial profiling within the State Patrol showed that there was not significant attention on any particular group. This may be different based on the the area of the state, or within local law enforcement, but to be fair, they should be more specific.

  5. Hmmm. . .Had the Duke lacrosse players not been rich white male athletes (the epitome of evil in the eyes of many with agendas), they never would have been charged in the first place, and then pilloried by the media. Had any single component of their nature been changed– had they been poor/black/transgendered/muslim or whatever–a host of defenders would have appeared to champion their obvious innocence.

    Good lucking getting a fair trial (or fair press coverage) if you fall into an unpopular category (either at Scottsboro in 1931 or at Durham in 2006–the two “twin” cases of rush-to-judgment prejudice).

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