I have read too many stories lately about people being brutally mistreated at the hands of those who felt they were justified.  Seventeen year old Treyvon Martin, pursued and shot by a neighborhood watchman for "looking suspicious" while walking home.  Anastasio Hernandez Rojas, beaten, repeatedly tased and killed by more than a dozen Border Patrol agents for the nonviolent crime of illegal presence in the U.S. (where his wife and five children awaited him). Justin Patterson shot dead in the back as he fled the home where he and his brother had been invited.  In reading one tragic tale after another, there seems to be a trend.  That trend, sadly, supports the notion that young men of color are worthless; "disposable".   One news story, covering the killing of a fifteen year old Mexican boy for throwing rocks, questions whether those in power are too quick to use deadly force.  This seems like a no brainer to me. 

The all too frequent deaths of young, unarmed brown and black men at the hands of those claiming to "protect us" deserve outrage, attention, and CHANGE. 

I agree with Representative Bob Filner:
"Anastasio’s story is a strong reminder to all of us of how far we need to go to reform our system," said Rep. Bob Filner (D-Calif.), who represents the San Diego area, where Hernandez-Rojas lived for many years.

As Mr. Hernandez-Rojas screamed for help and begged for mercy, I can't help but think that the only thing that could possibly have allowed those agents to continue to beat this man - to punch and kick and taze him while ignoring his pleas what their ability to see this man, this father, this person - as less valuable, less worthy, less human.

Here in Maine we have been working for years to address racial profiling and we have made some strides.  The ACLU of Maine sits on a statewide taskforce alongside law enforcement and representatives of communities of color to assess and address profiling. and we now have a statewide definition and ban on racial profiling by law enforcement.

But these stories and the many more like them are striking, disturbing, undeniable proof that we have far to go.  And discriminatory laws like Arizona's notorious SB 1070 only put fuel to the fire.  I am so proud to be part of an organization working to dispel racial bias by challenging discriminatory laws and holding people accountable when it appears that they have abused their positions of power. 

Our legal director, Zach Heiden got it right - "If the Constitution does not protect the least fortunate among us, it protects none of us...No matter who we are, or what we do, we are all human beings, and we deserve to be treated like human beings."