Friday, June 25, 2021

Ed Gray, NDG Senior Columnist: Free Rodney Reed!

Rodney Reed photo via Change.org Petition

Straight Talk by Ed Gray

If we do not act soon, Rodney Reed will be a dead man.

The state of Texas should not add Rodney Reed to the growing number of men executed for crimes they did not commit. By now, you have read and seen numerous celebrities and just common folk have signed the petition.

This petition is simple; we want Rodney Reed not to be executed. The sham justice system that does not allow for proper testing of evidence, allows police officers to operate with impunity and targets black and marginalized communities recklessly. The result is our justice system is on trial, and the verdict is out. The whole damn system is guilty. When evidence is not looked at, that can bring justice, we must exercise common sense over common retribution.

Disparate punishment is the price black people pay in our judicial system. According to my friends at Diversity Inc., there are currently 225 people on Texas Death Row. Ninety-eight are Black, 61 are white, 62 are Latino, and four are Asian. Most are poor and adding to that fact, most that were executed under questionable circumstances were people of color.

We can exonerate Texas justice from its obligatory reliance on the death penalty as the arbiter of justice. The death penalty, whether we accept it or not, has its flaws. First, it is costly to carry out death row executions. Though putting a monetary value on executions may seem cavalier, what is not cavalier or justice is the execution of a person under questionable conditions.

This ultimate price of death is often borne by minorities in the state of Texas. Texas still operates under an oppressive Jim Crow prison system, that was cited by the United Nations as torturous and inhumane. Prisoners forced to work in slave-like conditions of servitude and living quarters have been labeled as punishing by the United Nations.

I have had the opportunity to speak with the Reed family, as they have brought forth their story. It is a story of hope, a story of protecting a system that sees, no-fault.

The Texas justice system is being tested when we say, “Free Rodney Reed.” It is not tested because of a crime, it is tested because of its lack of innocence. If one innocent man is executed, that’s one too many.

Let us not add Rodney Reed to the list.

I am Ed Gray, and this is Straight Talk.

Ed Gray is a presidential scholar at Southern Methodist University. He is the host of The Commish Radio Show airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. on FBRN.net, can be reached at eegray62@att.net. NDG was awarded NNPA’s 2018 Robert S. Abbott Best Editorial for Gray’s “Confederate Statues: The White Man’s Burden” column.

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