In this piece for The Root, I react to the videotaped killing of an unarmed man by a police officer in Charleston, S.C. I write a bit about how offenses that are often related to poverty become another way to create a permanent “felon” underclass of people constantly battling tickets and fines.
If you are wealthy and can’t or don’t pay child support, you can hire a lawyer and create an elaborate defense. Tickets? You either pay them off or fight them in court. Money allows you toeasily hide your recreational-drug use or hire legal counsel when you can’t. No worries about loitering because your home is a house, not the curb. When taillights break on your car, they are replaced. And if you are mentally ill with money, you’re not actually “mentally ill” at all, but among our most protected class: trust-fund babies who suffer from “affluenza.”
If you’re poor, you are one broken taillight from homelessness—or, in Scott’s tragic case, death.