Civil Rights Attorney Benjamin Crump has had a front row seat to the perils of injustice within the U.S. court system. The former lawyer for Trayvon Martin‘s family and author of the forthcoming book “Open Season: Legalized Genocide of People of Color,” manages numerous high profile cases of racial discrimination, police brutality and infringement of civil rights, including that of Michael Brown, Terrence Crutcher, and Tamir Rice.
Failures of the criminal justice system are however not the only kinds of injustice Crump says threatens the civil rights of Black people.
The $20 billion-dollar lawsuit filed by Black media mogul Byron Allen on behalf of his company, Entertainment Studios, against TV network giants Comcast and Charter Communications for racial discrimination is a case Crump says could have huge implications for the Black community.
“It’s far bigger than Byron Allen or Comcast,” Crump tells theGrio. “If the Supreme Court strikes it down, it will effectively do away with a well-reasoned law that has been the law of the land for over 150 years.“
The law Crump is referring to is the Civil Rights Act of 1866 which bans racial discrimination in business contracts.
“Without the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and companion laws there would be no safeguards to ensure that every American citizen has the right to equal protection under the law,” said Crump.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) under Donald Trump recently filed an amicus brief, declaring the Civil Rights Act of 1866 should be read differently than Allen’s lawyers interpreted it.
The DOJ’s interpretation wants plaintiffs to prove that racial discrimination is the only reason why they are denied business opportunities, which in essence, would reinterpret the law to favor Comcast.
“We cannot have the court say that a discrimination claim has to be 100 percent based on discrimination and nothing else,” said Crump. “Because every time you go to court, you can never get people to agree 100 percent totally on anything. It is always a matter of degrees.”
Allen and Comcast go before the Supreme Court on November 13th for a hearing. Allen won the racial discrimination lawsuit twice previously in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Comcast has denied any racial discrimination and points to its African-American themed programming as example of its commitment to diversity and inclusion.
“We have to make sure that people are informed, that people are awake to make sure they are aware of what’s at stake,” Crump told theGrio. “It is probably the most important Supreme Court case that I’m aware of in the last decade.”
An “Open Season” on Black Lives
Crump believes using the law to control Black livelihood and opportunity could be a matter of life and death as systemic and institutionalized racism continue to operate more quietly than the days of segregated water fountains.
Freedom ain’t free… And if we are not careful, there are those who would like to manipulate us and make the law our master and us the servants.
“There’s a systematic legalization of discrimination, which in many cases, leads to genocide where you actually have the law itself being used to kill us,” said Crump.
“When you deny that it’s occurring, you may in fact be the biggest supporters [of discrimination] because you don’t recognize there is indeed an issue,” he said.
“We have to remember that, freedom ain’t free… And if we are not careful, there are those who would like to manipulate us and make the law our master and us the servants. We fought that battle a 150 years ago, so let’s not turn back the clock on civil rights.”
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