According to the Trump administration and other Washington politicians such as Senator John McCain, America should be outraged at the death of Otto Warmbier. He was the college student arrested in the repressive, totalitarian country of North Korea for stealing a sign from a building hallway. Warmbier was put on public trial in the country and received the harsh sentence of 15 years hard labor. The student was recently released from the North Korean prison suffering severe brain damage. Upon his arrival in America, he underwent extensive medical testing and doctors stated that he was in a wakeful coma and unresponsive. Yesterday he succumbed to his injuries and died. His death is now being used as a rallying cry against the North Korean government and its oppressive record of human rights abuse. Once again, however, America finds itself in a hypocritical situation considering the number of Black people that have died in the repressive, systemic racist prison system in this country. Senator John McCain said that North Korea murdered Otto Warmbier but American police murder Black men, women and children on what seems to be a regular basis. A clear history of extreme brutality can be drawn from Emmet Till to Philando Castile when it comes to the American justice system. The stories are all too frequent of prisoners dying in custody, especially Black prisoners. The deaths of these prisoners are just as horrific and even more tragic because it comes from within a country that chastises other countries when it comes to prisoners rights abuses.
Take for example the case of Darren Rainey, 50, who died in 2012. He was a mentally ill, Muslim prisoner locked up for cocaine possession at Dade Correctional Institution. Rainey got the staff at the prison mad because he defecated in his cell and refused to clean it up. To punish him, they locked him in a shower stall and he was blasted with scalding hot water for 2 hours. The temperature was controlled by the guards and other prisoners heard his screams and pleading during his torture. When the stall was finally opened, Rainey’s skin had peeled away and his lifeless body was on the floor.
Freddie Gray died from injuries sustained while he was in police custody. His death was ruled a homicide but all six officers involved walked free.
Alonzo Smith, 27, was placed in custody by a private security detail at the Marbury Plaza Apartments in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 3, 2015. A witness at the apartment complex said they heard a man yell, “Help! Help! They’re going to kill me!” When D.C. police arrived on the scene, Smith, 27, was unconscious and not breathing. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital.
After his girlfriend called the police, Matthew Ajibade, 22, was arrested, taken to jail, and put in a restraint chair for allegedly fighting with deputies and injuring three of them. He was later found unresponsive. Ajibade’s family disputes the police report, saying his girlfriend requested that he be taken to the hospital to be treated for a manic episode related to his bipolar disorder.
Sandra Bland was found hanging in her cell after being in jail three days over a traffic stop on July 10, 2015. Her death was originally called a suicide.