Lawyer Ben Crump On ‘Open Season’

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: There were more protests in Dallas today over the fatal shooting of a black man inside his home by a white police officer…


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: An unarmed black teenager was shot down by a white neighborhood watchman who claimed self-defense…


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: It’s growing outrage tonight after an unarmed African-American teenager was shot and killed by police in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Mo…


Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Botham Jean – the lawyer who represented each of their families after their deaths is Ben Crump. In his new book, he argues these tragedies and those that affect so many other Americans of color isn’t just a pattern of discrimination, racism and police brutality. The word he uses is genocide. And he joins me now from Columbia, S.C. Good morning.

BEN CRUMP: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Can you explain why it’s important for you to use the word genocide?

CRUMP: Certainly. This book “Open Season” is an extension of what many black leaders did in 1951 at the United Nations Convention. They issued we charge genocide, the crime of government against the Negro people in America. And they based that on the daily killings, rapings and lynchings of Negro people in America. And yet the courts and the law sanitized it over and over again. Nobody was held accountable. They legalized these atrocities. And that’s what we think is still occurring today. And you don’t have to take Ben Crump’s word for it. You can go sit in the back of any court room in any city in any state in America.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There are a lot of people who work in the international sphere who say that genocide is a very particular word with a very profound legal meaning and that it is very important to keep that legal meaning and not use it for other issues in other cases that may be egregious but don’t fall under genocide. What would you say to that?

CRUMP: I would say the case was compelling then, and the case is compelling now. I want to be clear. There are many ways to kill a person, as we demonstrate in this book. When you are a convicted felon and you are a person of color, it is like you are the walking dead. They just haven’t given you the death certificate yet. You are caught up in a system that you can never get out of.

And, you know, it’s one thing to kill us with bullets. I think it’s even more horrific to kill a person, and they die a little every day because of the circumstances that you have made them live under. Think of the wrongfully convicted people in America and the death row statistics and how they correlate based on ratio dynamics. The quickest way to get on death row is literally to be a person of color and kill a white person. But yet when a white person kill a person of color, in many regards because of the racist Jim Crow “stand your ground” laws, they don’t even spend the night in jail.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Mr. Crump, this book, as you mentioned, doesn’t just talk about the deaths of black and brown people at the hands of police. It talks about an entire system of injustice, segregation and racism, how at every turn black and brown people are sentenced more severely for similar crimes, are judged more harshly for behavior that would not be deemed criminal if they were white. This has touched your family. Can you tell me the story of Marcus and what happened when he was 13?

CRUMP: Yeah, and it’s so personal. Marcus was my cousin who my mother and I and my aunt end up raising. He, like all young teenagers – they discover girls. And he started liking. And apparently, this little white girl started liking him back. And it became a major incident.

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