Kudos to Assistant Kentucky Attorney Richard Elder for speaking truth to power in a hearing before Jefferson (Ky.) Circuit Court Judge Olu Stevens in early February. After listening to Stevens vent for several minutes over a victim impact statement describing a toddler’s emotional trauma as the result of a home invasion, Elder remarked, “Certainly I can understand the court’s outrage there.” Elder paused for a moment to think about Stevens’s tirade, then recanted: “I guess I really don’t.”
That makes two of us. See if you can make sense of the judge’s pique after reading the back story. According to the Courier-Journal, Jordan and Tommy Gray of Buechel were at home with their 3-year-old daughter on March 21, 2013 when two armed black men broke in and robbed them at gunpoint.
After he was apprehended, one of the perpetrators, 27-year-old Gregory Wallace, pleaded guilty. Just prior to his sentencing hearing on Feb. 4, Jordan Gray submitted a victim impact statement to the court, which noted that her daughter was still “in constant fear of black men”:
Whenever we are running errands, if we come across a black male, she holds me tight and begs me to leave. It has affected her friendships at school and our relationships with African-American friends.
But, as the Courier-Journal observes, it was the Grays, not Wallace, who incurred the brunt of the judge’s wrath. In the video that follows, Stevens says:
I am offended by that. I am deeply offended that they would be victimized by an individual and express some kind of fear of all black men….
This little girl certainly has been victimized, and she can’t help the way she feels. My exception is more with her parents and their accepting that kind of mentality and fostering those type of stereotypes.
Stevens says at one point, “I wonder if the perpetrator had been white, would they be in fear of white men?” The most likely answer is that the child would have fixated on some other easily identifiable defining physical trait — a scar, an item of clothing — that would have become the object of her irrational fear. In other words, the child didn’t come to fear blacks because of some deep-seated racial hatred that her parents were stoking but because of a physical association with the men who disrupted her home. What is amazing is that the judge, who is way past his own toddler years, is too blinded by his own obsession with racism to see that.
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