The federal trial of four Los Angeles cops, forced by the public orgy of rebellion and rage, which rocked the city a year before in response to acquittal stemming from the brutal Rodney King beating, ended in a jury compromise: two guilty, two acquitted. While observers may be dispirited by the fact that two cops, who brutalized, traumatized, and pummeled King, were acquitted, the trial itself raises some serious and disturbing questions. While no one would call the writer a cop lover, it is my firm opinion that the federal retrial of the four LA cops involved in Kings legalized brutality constituted a clear violation of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which forbids double jeopardy. Fifth Amendment provides, in part, quote, “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb,” unquote.
Like millions of Africans in America, Chicanos, and a host of Americans, the acquittals of the LA Cop Four and the Simi Valley State assault trial was an outrage that solidified the conviction that there can be no justice in the course of this system for Black people. Although not a reason for the LA rebellion, it certainly was a psychic straw that broke the camel’s back. The Simi Valley trial, like the King beating itself, was both an obscenity and a commonality for neither all white pro-police juries nor state sanctioned brutality, or rarities, to those who live in US tombs as opposed to reading about them. The point is, the Federal LAPD King civil rights trial was a political prosecution, spurred by international embarrassment stemming from the raging flames of LA, without which no prosecution would have occurred.
It also reveals how the system, under the pressure of an outraged people, will betray the trust of their own agents. So one need not ask how they will treat or do treat one not their own, especially when there is public pressure to support it. The same system that denied the four LA cops their alleged constitutional rights, denies the rights of the poor and politically powerless daily with impunity, and will further utilize the Koon case to deny others. To be silent while the state violates its own alleged constitutional law to prosecute someone we hate is both to invite silence when the state violates its own laws to prosecute the state’s enemies and opponents. This we cannot do. We must deny the state that power. The National ACLU is also of the opinion that the second federal prosecution violated the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution, a position that seems sound.
I believe it is upon that basis that the convictions will later be reversed by an appellate court. It is ironic that many of those who did not oppose the federal civil prosecutions feel it inappropriate for the federal system to review state convictions under habeas corpus statutes. All the second federal civil rights violation case has done is provide the system with camouflage to give the appearance of justice. The illusion is never the real.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu-Jamal. For more information about my case, racism, and the death penalty, and what you can do contact Equal Justice USA at 301-699-0042.