‘The Injustice Files: Hood of Suspicion’ premieres Feb. 13
ABOVE PHOTO: Keith Beauchamp.
Pasadena, CA- Less than one year ago, the killing of young Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida sparked a nationwide dialog on racial profiling practices, including “stand-your-ground” laws, which state that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat.
These laws, which on their face may seem fair, have often been used to discriminate against, intimidate and even murder innocent minorities. This February, Investigation Discovery goes on an in-depth investigation of modern day racial profiling practices in the next installment of THE INJUSTICE FILES series from Emmy nominated filmmaker Keith Beauchamp.
Looking at three distinct cases that illustrate how self-defense practices discriminate against African Americans, The Injustice Files: Hood of Suspicion premieres Wednesday, February 13 at 8 PM (E/P).
“Even in 2013, America still struggles with equal rights for young black men and women,” said Henry Schleiff, president and general manager, Investigation Discovery. “We are thrilled to welcome back to ID filmmaker Keith Beauchamp, who has worked with us over the last three years on this deeply moving series. After exploring civil rights cold cases in 2011 and suspected modern “lynchings” in 2012, this year Keith returns with a thoughtful look at the continuing efforts of heroes who shockingly even today still need to fight for equal rights.”
Well-known murders such as the 1955 killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till, an African American teen who was visiting relatives in Mississippi, indicate a pattern of guilt by assumption. White men brutalized Till after it was rumored he had whistled at a white woman.
Modern day self-defense laws, such as Florida’s Stand Your Ground law which was invoked in the Trayvon Martin case, and the Castle Doctrine – which states that a person has no duty to retreat when their home is attacked – continue to perpetuate the pattern of discrimination against African Americans. The Injustice Files: Hood of Suspicion examines three such recent cases, including:
ROBBIE TOLAN: Bellaire, TX
Around 2:00 AM, on December 31, 2008, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were confronted in their driveway, in the prominent, predominantly white city of Bellaire, Texas by local police officers who suspected that the young men were driving a stolen vehicle.
According to relatives, the two young men were returning from a late night run to Jack in the Box, when police officers emerged from the darkness pointing a flashlight and gun at them. An altercation ensued when the police officer reportedly pushed Robbie’s mother, leading the officer to fire a shot at Robbie when he responded to protect his mother.
The officer contends he was defending himself stating that he thought Robbie was reaching for a weapon, reacting quickly in what he thought was self-defense. No weapon was found, and the officer was put on administrative leave, while stridently rejecting any allegation of racial profiling.
REKIA BOYD: Chicago, IL
Chicago is a city that is less than half the size of New York, but has more than four times the number of homicides – and a majority of these victims are African Americans.
In March of 2012, less than one month after the shooting of Trayvon Martin, 22 year old Rekia Boyd was unjustifiably killed as an innocent bystander by the bullet of an off-duty officer during an altercation in Chicago’s Douglas Park. The family is still searching for justice.
JOHN MCNEIL: Kennesaw, GA
John McNeil was a successful business man with a wife and two kids. In December of 2005, the McNeil’s moved into their newly built dream house in Kennesaw, Georgia. After leaving one of their kids at the home to wait for workmen, John received a call from his son who said there was a strange man lurking outside.
Having had issues with the builder, John immediately suspected him and called the local police to meet him at the scene. When John arrived at the house before the local police department, he was forced to defend himself with his firearm on his own property because he was concerned that the builder had a weapon. Although initially let go, John was arrested almost a year after the incident, and is now serving a life sentence in a Georgia prison.
Law enforcement will not speak about the case, and Keith Beauchamp’s request for a prison interview was denied. John’s wife is now living in North Carolina to be near family, as she fights a long battle with terminal cancer – and a battle to free her husband.
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