Last week, 25-year-old Hannah Payne was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of felony murder, malice murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, and three charges of weapons possession during a crime in the 2019 murder of 62-year-old Kenneth Herring in Clayton County, Georgia.
Payne—who witnessed a minor traffic accident when Herring, who was reportedly experiencing a medical emergency, hit a tractor-trailer and drove off—did a lot of crying in court after she was sentenced. It’s almost as if she never expected to receive any semblance of accountability for chasing after Herring, blocking him from leaving, ordering him out of the car as if she had the authority to do so, pointing her gun at him, and, ultimately, shooting the elderly man to death.
Perhaps Payne saw George Zimmerman get away with killing Trayvon Martin by claiming the teen he staked attacked him first and she thought she’d escape justice by claiming her victim was the attacker, as well. Herring’s killing happened nearly a year before Travis and Greg McMichaels and William “Roddie” Bryan took part in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. Maybe Payne thought she’d do fine in court because, like many of us, she imagined a trial like that of Bryan and the McMichaels going the other way. Maybe Payne read all the stories about cops getting cleared of wrongdoing after killing a Black motorist who refused to get out of the car or allegedly accelerated and the “Karen” forgot she was not a cop and thought: “I can do that! I just have to say I was in fear for my life, right?”
Maybe she thought she was safe because she’s a white woman. One of the character witnesses in Payne’s trial testified that she couldn’t be racist because she didn’t see color, had an ex-boyfriend who was “a Black man” and is currently in a relationship with “a Dominican guy.”
But that wasn’t the interesting part of her testimony as Black people are well accustomed to white people’s default “but I have a Black friend” narrative they toss around after being accused of racism. The interesting part came when the witness claimed the murderer she was caping for was “trying to do what’s right” and that “like everybody in here” Payne could have “never visualized that something like” Herring’s death “would have occurred.”
Who exactly is this white woman referring to when she said “everybody in here” was unable to “visualize” the result of Payne’s vigilantism? She couldn’t have been talking to Black people, because, of course, not only can we visualize it but we are also forced to do so. far too many times.
We literally saw the end result when Zimmerman killed Trayvon and when three white men killed Arbery. We saw Kyle Rittenhouse get away with being the only person to take lives during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. We saw it again when Daniel Penny—who also used “my best friends are Black” as a fall-back—killed Jordan Neely.
In fact, we’re still waiting to see if Penny, who has been charged with second-degree manslaughter, will be convicted for killing an unarmed Black man who hadn’t physically harmed anyone because, as he claimed, people were afraid of threats being shouted by Neely, who was reportedly suffering a mental health crisis. We’re still waiting with bated breath to see if Penny will share Payne’s fate or if the overwhelming support by right-wing America will set him free as it did for Rittenhouse.
After all, Payne didn’t receive nearly the backing from the MAGA world that Rittenhouse or Penny did. She was defended by TurningPoint USA founder Charlie Kirk and his followers, but Kirk never met a fact he didn’t want to put his feelings before while pretending to be all about “facts over feelings,” so he doesn’t count for much.
Despite the convictions and lengthy sentences of Payne, Arbery’s killers and George Floyd’s murderer, Derek Chauvin, any optimism Black people may have that Penny or others like him will be brought to justice should be extremely tempered with cautious optimism. We have to remember that the aforementioned convicts are the exceptions, not the rule. Penny could still walk free. On a different day with a different judge and jury, Bryan and the McMichaels could have walked free. Zimmerman walked, as countless others have.
Payne’s fate doesn’t mark change, it only provides fragile hope that could easily be broken through Penny’s case, or by the predictable next case in which a white person asserts their non-authority over the Black citizen they end up killing.
What’s also a shame is the likelihood that Payne’s case won’t stop the next instance of racist vigilante “justice” from happening. Clayton County District Attorney Taha Mosley—who reported that her office has been receiving death threats since she prosecuted Payne—gave these wannabe cop morons the best advice they’ll never take.
Just mind your business. It’s really that simple, and it just might save a life.
The post Hannah Payne Is The Latest White Vigilante Sentenced For Black Death. Will Daniel Penny Be Next? appeared first on NewsOne.
Hannah Payne Is The Latest White Vigilante Sentenced For Black Death. Will Daniel Penny Be Next? was originally published on newsone.com
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