Supporter in UK writes judge to free Diop

Dear Judge Covington

I understand that you are presiding over the case against Diop Olugbala, which is why I thought it would be a good idea to share some reflections on this matter with you. You may think of them as the views of an average human being or an objective observer on the issues over which you will decide.

The incident which gave rise to the charges against Mr Olugbala was captured on video. Not only does that confer a judicial power or responsibility on anyone who has watched that video but it also confers such power and responsibility on anyone who will do so in future. It means there are a lot more people besides you, dear Judge, who will be judging this case – a lot more people who will decide on the merits of the prosecution and the legitimacy of the charges against Mr Olugbala in the privacy of their own minds.

As a judge, you must know that human nature is such that nothing whatsoever, absolutely nothing, can contradict or compete with the evidence of what we see with our own eyes and hear with our own ears. You must also know that there is a long and well-documented history regarding the persecution of black people in the United States. From slavery and lynchings to the mass incarceration of Africans in US prisons (including the celebrated case of Mumia Abu Jamal right there in Philadelphia), the world has watched and marvelled at the vicious, systematic oppression of black people in America. On the face of things, particularly the video of the incident, the prosecution case against Mr Olugbala represents yet another example of such persecution and oppression – yet another example of how those Africans who dare to speak out are attacked and crushed by the system. In light of the above, it seems to me that what is really at issue here is your own integrity – your integrity as a judge and your integrity as a human being.

I, like many people around the world, have heard of corruption within the American judiciary – of judges convicting innocent people in order to receive kickbacks and payments from prison operators for instance. Of course, there are those who would automatically question the integrity of any judge in the West – or the integrity of anyone who claims to be motivated by justice and fairness but who is happy to be employed in a judicial capacity by a government which even as I write, is waging illegal wars of aggression against innocent, dark-skinned people like Mr Olugbala in Iraq, Afghanistan, Congo and elsewhere. I suppose those are the same people who would argue that a conscientious judge in your position would throw out the charges against Mr Olugbala and encourage him to petition the UNHRC in respect of an egregious violation of his rights to free speech. Those rights, as you know, are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to which the USA is a signatory.

Given that you are a serious woman, ie a sober judge with no truck with such radical thinking, I won't waste your time by expounding on such impractical or idealistic notions. However, it is also true Mr Olugbala is not being tried for rape, drug dealing or burglary. He wasn't arrested in the course of committing a crime or any crime at all. No, he is being prosecuted – persecuted – for defending the rights of weak and marginalised people in Philadelphia, USA; for political dissent and for proclaiming views which the authorities in the “City of Brotherly Love” find unpalatable.

That is exactly what this looks like, how it appears to a human being of average intelligence. It would be interesting to see what the people of China, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe make of you and your deliberations in the present case. These countries, as everybody knows, are routinely attacked and condemned by the U.S on spurious allegations of human rights abuse yet here we are, in the case of Mr Olugbala, confronted by trumped-up charges and a racist power structure in America which will leave no stone unturned in order to negate and castrate those black people who refuse to bow and scrape, those who dare to protest. You, dear Judge Covington, are a part of that power structure; your identity and social status in America depends on your function within that power structure – which is why your own personal integrity is a critical issue, why it is doubtful that you could be sufficiently courageous or self-aware to reject the hypocrisy which enshrouds you and the system you represent. I think Jesus himself said something very relevant on the subject, about removing the log from your own eye before condemning the mote in your brother's eye – or something to that effect.

I have taken the time to share these thoughts with you in the hope that you will think seriously about the case before you and that you will find the necessary courage and selfawareness to judge honestly. I hope that you also understand that people all over the world will be watching you in that Philadelphia courtroom, that the eyes of the world will be on you as you adjudicate in “White Oppression vs Olugbala". On a more personal note, and particularly in light of my awareness that you are a “sister”, I sincerely hope that you will live up to your responsibilities as a human being with any degree of concern for future generations who must live in a world scarred by racial injustice and bitterness. Like all actions, great or small, history will record the facts of this case and your role in it.

Kind regards,
Olufemi Ijebuode
England, United Kingdom.


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