Mall of America case: are Black people allowed to be mentally ill?

Emmanuel Aranda

So Black people are not allowed to be mentally ill?  Press  throughout the US from CBS to CNN and even the UK’s BBC reported that a Black man, 24 year old Emmanuel Aranda (who was obviously disturbed) was just sentenced to 19 years in prison for throwing a five year old White boy from a balcony.

Headlines read “Man Who Threw 5-Year-Old Off Mall Balcony Sentenced to 19 Years in Prison,” but none of the headlines acknowledged that the attacker was suffering from some form of mental illness, mental health crisis, or that he was “troubled.” Interpreted through the lens of the US brand of White Supremacy the headline says, ‘yet another “Negro” commits yet another heinous crime, cause that’s what they do, they are born that way.’

Aranda had the book thrown at him after admitting the crime and taking a plea which netted him practically the same amount of time he would have received had he gone to trial and been found guilty. A cursive glance at the circumstances of this case would lead most folks to understand that this man was disturbed, but apparently the requirements of White Supremacy that seeks to have all Black folk especially men, be viewed as criminal would not allow for extenuating circumstances, such as mental illness.

Blacks according to the White Supremacist handbook are criminal, not crazy. In 1848 John Galt, a physician and medical director of the Eastern Lunatic Asylum in Williamsburg, Virginia, concluded that “Blacks are immune to mental illness.”

The AP story about the case included this paragraph. “Aranda’s attorney, Paul Sellers, did not raise a mental illness defense. Aranda did acknowledge in response to a question from the judge that he had been in mental health court previously and completed required treatment.”

At first glance it appears that his attorney failed him, but upon further investigation it appears the system tied the hands of his attorney. It is obvious to the average lay person that this man had to be deranged to decide to throw a random child over a third floor railing, who had done nothing to him,  especially after he explained that he did it because his efforts to talk to women were rebuffed and was as a result looking for someone to kill. Truth is that sounds crazy on its face. Yet his attorney could not submit a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, nor could he provide records of his clients past history of mental illness, because he was bound by his client’s wishes. And Aranda did not want that revealed to the courts. Had Aranda been White and wealthy the system surely would have intervened and made sure the appropriate action, the appropriate sentence was handed down.

Aranda’s mother who the convicted man refused to see while in jail, told the press that he has suffered from mental illness of some sort since he was three years old. She said that he had been diagnosed on lots of occasions and had been required to see therapists and take medication. He was said to have suffered from: autism, depression, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and schizophrenia.

His mother said they were never certain of the true nature of his mental health issues, but that “we just know that this illness would flare up. He would be fine most of the time … and all of a sudden, out of the blue it would just kick in out of nowhere.”  She also told the press that her son had been hanging out at the mall because he was homeless.

According to the mother, her son refused to sign consent forms to release his mental health records from Illinois, where he spent most of his life before moving to Minnesota. The disturbed young man had been in trouble with the law on a few occasions in which he was charged with assault and had previously been required to undergo psychological evaluation and mental health treatment.

Even the parents of the five year old got in on the act, pretending that the Black man who assaulted their son, was in his right mind.  Though they made many references to God, while saying they forgave him, they couldn’t help calling him “evil” and “selfish.”  Their religion should have led them to be compassionate and merciful and ask the court to get Aranda the help he obviously needs! It would be great if one day someone publicly claiming to know something about God would actually act God like.

Compare Aranda’s fate with that of the White 18 year old Roman Adams, who threw an eight year old off an Apple Valley, MN water slide, causing the boy to fall 31 feet and severely injure himself.  In his case, even the police said that Adams was “developmentally delayed.” The case is different because the young man did have an aide with him at the time, making it even more obvious he was mentally disabled.

However Aranda had been in the system and had been sent for mental health treatment and evaluation. In the case of Adams, the Dakota County Judge Timothy McManus accepted that he was mentally impaired and that prison would be inappropriate and sentenced him to mental health treatment.

Apparently, Hennepin County District Judge Jeannice Reding could have done the same for Aranda, since it was brought to her attention he had been in the mental health system and had been ordered before to seek psychological evaluation, but she chose not to.

And while Reding  would likely say that is unfair, it is likely, that unlike the Dakota County judge who acknowledged Adam’s mental handicap,  she did not see Aranda’s humanity, but chose to see him as just another Black miscreant and sentenced him accordingly.

Yet, White shooters, mass killers and victimizers are more often described as “troubled,” by the so-called “objective” Corporate press. One of the headlines after the Parkland shooting read, “At least 17 dead after troubled former student allegedly opens fire on Florida High School.”

This description allows White shooters to be given the benefit of the doubt, to hold on to their humanity, and to be viewed as a severely flawed or damaged human and to even be pitied or sympathized with by the public.

As a rule, White dominated society does not want to believe that people who look like them can commit heinous crimes. It does not fit the narrative that the US “settler” society has created for itself, which stated simply claims ‘White  good, everybody else not so much.’

Ironically, considering the pressures of living every day under the pall of racism, the trauma from experiences with institutionally reinforced prejudice, along with the constant looming threat of violence from its armed enforcers (police), it is a wonder that more Black folks have not lost their minds.

There were two vulnerable people damaged in this case, both who could not help what happened to them and had little control over the events of that day.

Everybody including the courts, the prosecutor, the public the parents seemed to have a need to pretend that this young Black man was sane and fully conscious of what he was doing. He too was victimized and will get out of prison one day and likely hurt someone again, because we live in a society in which is more important to demonize Black humanity, than to treat them like what they are; human beings.

His mother said “I don’t think justice was done.”  She is correct, retribution, revenge and the penalty for damaging White life was assessed, but justice played no part in this case.


justice then peace

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