The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys also known as The Florida School for Boys is for sale. The name might not mean much to you.
But it should.
For over a century, it was known for abusing young, mostly black men. After investigations by Florida state authorities and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, it was closed in 2011.
Now more unmarked graves have been found, bringing the total to 55. (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/55-bodies-exhumed-at-shuttered-fla-reform-school/)
Even the normally politically staid Wikipedia notes, ” the school gained a reputation for abuse, beatings, rapes, torture, and even murder of students by staff.”
- It matters who is in the White House. Justice’s Civil Rights Division had been understaffed and starved for resources and intellectual capital for years before Attorney General Eric Holder. I’m sure that this was not an easy investigation to pursue. Kudos to the unsung who fought the good fight now just this year, but in all the years before.
- The school to prison pipeline is real.
- I can’t imagine the terror of the young men who were there: those who were harmed and those who were witnesses. If they returned to their communities without PTSD, that would have been a miracle.
Whenever a Trayvon Martin situation happens, there are those who say, what about black on black crime? When the criminal justice system treats black men like this, it creates a toxic environment where every man of color is instantly and always a suspect, first. Something to be beaten, used and abused with impunity. You can’t cripple a man, then complain about the way he walks.
So when those same men of color turn on each other, sure personal responsibility is part of the puzzle. But I don’t remember any other group in history overcoming the willful, denigrating power of the state. Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals and others during the Holocaust; the Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide; or the Bosnian Croats and Muslims during the Bosnian ethnic cleansing.
Pretending that these two things are comparable keeps us as a nation from grieving and atoning for horrific events like this. And we really need to acknowledge them, then grieve then turn things around.
My prayers to everyone who endured this “school.” Even the guards and administrators who were perpetrators were damaged as well.
My hope is that every loved one among those 55 unmarked graves is claimed by their families and communities. Closure, then justice.
N.B. Of course murder happens in all societies at all times. But I’m addressing the disproportionate numbers in African American communities.