*When I saw there were just two White people on Amber Guyger’s jury, and the judge, bailiffs and staff all were Black, I was sure she would get convicted of murdering Botham Jean. What I didn’t expect was the level of sympathy Guyger got from her victim’s family and the judge who presided over the trial.
Last week Guyger was convicted and sentenced to ten years for killing Jean while he sat in his apartment minding his own business. She admits she shot him. She thought Jean was an intruder in her apartment, but she was in the wrong place. She claimed she got off on the wrong floor. She ignored all the visual signs and the common sense that makes you check yourself before you start shooting just because you have a gun. The story still doesn’t add up. But wrong is wrong!
So if Guyger admits she meant to kill ‘the intruder,’ and therefore was rightfully convicted and sentenced, why do some Black people still find it hard to accept the justice they deserve? Why do we negate our justified emotions of grief or anger by over sympathizing with those who harm us?
Why would Jean’s family extend mercy to the murderer who refused to extend mercy to him?
Brandt Jean did more than just hug Amber Guyger in court. And when his father said he wants to be friends with the woman who murdered his son, those were more than just displays of Christian forgiveness. They were ammunition for Guyger’s case when her lawyers file for an appeal or early release from prison. Their argument: If the victim’s family doesn’t want Guyger in prison, she should be released. And with judges like Tammy Kemp who think it’s acceptable to hug a convicted murderer in the middle of a case over which she just presided, an overturned conviction or early release is likely. I wouldn’t be surprised if Guyger’s legal team seeks to have Jean’s family testify for Guyger’s early release.
Systematic injustice didn’t end with a guilty verdict for Guyger no more than racism ended with the election of the first Black president. We’re in a game of psychological warfare. For Black people in America nothing is as it seems. Just like chess, we have to think at least five steps ahead of our current situation. Sure, it’s exhausting. But we have to play the hand we’ve been dealt and play to win.
Steffanie Rivers is a freelance journalist living in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex. Send comments, questions and speaking inquiries to [email protected]