Jesse Jackson marched in Selma, Ala., last month to protest voter ID laws. One of the oft-heard knocks on voter ID laws (which we strongly support) is that in addition to being burdensome, they're designed to fix something that isn't broken.
In the aftermath of racial violence in Tulsa on Good Friday, Jackson expressed doubt that local officials could handle the prosecution of the men suspected of killing three blacks. Federal involvement is needed, he said. In other words, he wants to burden the judicial system to fix something that isn't demonstrably broken.
Given the high profile of the Tulsa shootings and the penchant of the Obama administration to insert itself into local affairs (by challenging state voter ID laws, for example), there was no question that federal officials would review the Good Friday killings regardless of what Jackson said.
What troubles us is the assumption that state and local authorities, including police and prosecutors — and jurors — can't handle this without outside help. Jackson also said Oklahoma has shown a pattern of blacks being attacked and has a number of unsolved killings: “It's not unlike the old South, where local officials spent an awful lot of time covering their tracks.”
What evidence does Jackson have to support his claims? He didn't offer any. If this pattern truly exists, we assume he would have been visiting the state frequently rather than dropping in only after the Tulsa killings became national news.
Jackson will declare a victory if he gets substantial federal attention to the Tulsa murders. He's already gotten the Tulsa County district attorney to attach the “hate crime” label to the killings. All murders are hateful; the special designation changes nothing in a case in which the perpetrators will likely be executed.
Capital punishment? That's another thing Jackson has marched against. Heinous crimes in this state are punished with a state execution. You can't get any more serious about that in bringing killers to justice.