“You’ve got African-Americans. You’ve got Hispanics, and you’ve got a bag full of money. Does that tell you – a light bulb doesn’t go off in your head and say, ‘This is a drug deal?’”
– Sam L. Ponder, assistant U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas, in reference to the case of Bongani Charles Calhoun.
Calhoun, who is Black, went on a road trip with some friends who planned to purchase cocaine. The drug dealers turned out to be undercover Drug Enforcement Agency operatives. Calhoun was arrested along with the others, but insisted he had no knowledge of the drug buy. Ponder questioned the validity of Calhoun’s ignorance. Calhoun filed suit, claiming his arrest was racially motivated.
Ponder’s comment incited a strong retort from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the court’s first Hispanic member. “By suggesting that race should play a role in establishing a defendant’s criminal intent, the prosecutor here tapped into a deep and sorry vein of racial prejudice that has run through the history of criminal justice in our nation,” she said.
I suppose, if I saw a group of Caucasian folks at a shooting range (and there are plenty of them in Texas), I could reasonably assume they’re White supremacists out to assassinate President Obama. If you know anything about Tea Party Republicans in Texas, that’s not too outlandish a scenario. But, it’s still a racist assumption. It’s the kind of bigoted crap Blacks and Hispanics have had to deal with for decades; that we’re criminally inclined and – if we’re groups especially – it should be assumed we’re up to no good. It doesn’t matter that Calhoun probably knew what his friends were doing. But, a federal prosecutor should know better than to make such a blatantly racist comment like that. But, if he’s a Republican from Texas, that shouldn’t come as a surprise.
One response to “Stupid Quote of the Week #2”
Very good point. Even if the Calhoun may be guilty, the prosecutor can go for sentencing without adding racial comments. He should know better, but yes, some people may never learn. That is maybe just who they are.