Nearly all of the ways that the judicial system serves justice are unfair, and it is the poor, underprivileged citizens who are suffering.
According to NAACP.org, “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people incarcerated population. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.” Seeing those statistics, I can’t help assume that the justice system seems to have a bias that black people are all the same: that they’re all agitators of civilization.
This bias isn’t the truth and is displayed by many African Americans including 17-year-old Aymir Holland.
Aymir is described by his English teacher, Mark Fitzpatrick, as being, “A good student who is like a big, gentle teddy bear.” Mr. Fitzpatrick also explained that Aymir was an anti-bullying student leader who would intervene in a nice, assertive manner when he saw someone being bullied.
About eight months ago, in November of 2015, Aymir went to go hang out with a friend to get his mind off of the recent loss of a close friend of his who died from cancer. Some older boys that he didn’t know were there, and while they were walking, the group of young men assaulted and robbed a prestigious, 79-year-old Yale professor. Frozen in shock from what he saw, Aymir just watched. By the time he unfroze and ran away, they were all running as a group.
As a kid, you don’t have the knowledge to know what to do in every situation. You might not know how to react when you see something like what Aymir saw. However, not knowing how to react shouldn’t land you behind a plexiglass window watching the world leave you behind.
Due to the amount and severity of the charges against him, the court wishes to try Aymir as an adult.
But since when is a 17-year-old boy an adult? You can’t vote, buy cigarettes, or buy a lottery ticket until you’re 18. You’re not allowed to drink “adult beverages” until you’re 21, yet the justice system wants to deem Aymir an adult in this case?
Aymir now sits in Manson Correctional Facility awaiting judgement about whether he might be spending the next 61 years of his life behind bars.
Latoya Willis, Aymir’s mother, described how it feels to have a son behind bars: “It’s almost like I can’t breathe. As a mother, my role is to protect him, but I can’t while he’s in there.”
Community members are now coming together to help Aymir work to get his case moved to family court where he may be able to get a less severe punishment.
Youth Advisory Board community organizers from Citywide Youth Coalition have made the effort of beginning a petition to help Aymir’s case get moved to family court, and are organizing a rally on his next court date, Sept. 9, at 9 a.m. at 235 Church Street to bring attention to this.
This is the situation surrounding Aymir, however, hundreds and thousands of people similar to him, have faced or are facing the same injustice. Unfortunately, they may not know where to turn or who to go to because they’ve never experienced the legal system before.
It’s hard to imagine the whirlwind of feelings Aymir’s mother, teacher, family, and friends are feeling if you never had someone you know and care about laying inside of a cage each night. But imagine this; what if it was your father, brother, son, or friend in there? How would that make you feel?
Briyana Mondesir is currently a sophomore at Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School where she is in the Creative Writing program. She is a community organizer affiliated with the Citywide Youth Coalition (CWYC). She is a published author of two books and is presently working on completing a third novel.