by Chris Haire
It should be as simple as this: when you want to make the charge that a town or a police department or a state court is racist, be sure that when you do, the victim of racist policies, attitudes, or actions is in fact a victim ... and not some two-bit hood who broke into the house of a clinically depressed guy to steal his medical marijuana and in the process beat his teenage son with a baseball bat so bad he no longer can feed himself. Yeah, stay away from that guy.
Oh, wait. They didn't.
According to the AP:
In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him responsible for the bloodshed.
"It was pandemonium" inside the house that night, District Attorney Jon Hopkins said. Hughes was responsible for "setting the whole thing in motion by his actions and the actions of his accomplices."
Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7, 2005 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled.
Hughes was charged with first-degree murder under California's Provocative Act doctrine, versions of which have been on the books in many states for generations but are rarely used.
The Provocative Act doctrine does not require prosecutors to prove the accused intended to kill. Instead, "they have to show that it was reasonably foreseeable that the criminal enterprise could trigger a fatal response from the homeowner," said Brian Getz, a San Francisco defense attorney unconnected to the case.
The NAACP complained that prosecutors came down too hard on Hughes, who also faces robbery, burglary and assault charges. Prosecutors are not seeking the death penalty.
That said, I guess it's a sign of progress when the NAACP has to dredge up losers to champion. It'd be nice if they didn't, of course.