Justice for All
Grandpa Pickleball, Alvin Bragg, Donald Trump, Kalief Browder, and a personal story
Let’s start off easy, with a recent story about a guy I’ve come to think of as “Grandpa Pickleball.” On March 14, a 71-year-old retired civil engineer named Arslan Guney used a marker to delineate pickleball boundaries on the floor of a public court in Denver, Colorado. Guney, an avid pickleball player who came to the public center to play, and stayed before and after to help set up and break down the court, was reinforcing marks on the floor that had been put there by staff earlier and were fading. The Denver Parks and Recreation subsequently decided that this was damage to public property, charged him with a felony, and demanded $9,344 to refinish the floor (even though your mee maw or bubbe will tell you, you can remove marker from wood with a bit of rubbing alcohol) and demanded that he turn himself in. They tossed him in jail for a day, and are still deciding whether to prosecute. If they do, and they find him guilty, he could serve up to three years in jail.
This is absurd, of course, and has nothing to do with pursuit of justice. It’s all the more infuriating when you consider that things like this happen every day, overwhelmingly and disproportionally to Black people, and that it is also happening in within a justice system that, so far, has failed to hold Donald Trump accountable for financial fraud as a private citizen, or orchestrating a coup as president. Within criminal justice reform circles, this is referred to as a two-tiered justice system: One system for the poor, who are subjected to incarceration before they ever go to trial because they can’t meet cash bail requirements, and are often defended by overworked underresourced public defenders; and one for the wealthy and powerful, who can pay bail, sit comfortably in their homes awaiting trial, while their armies of lawyers defend them, and who often have powerful allies who can intervene on their behalf. (It needs to be said that Arslan Guney is a white retired civil engineer, and part of the reason why his story is getting national attention is that he is a white retired civil engineer.)
This is also happening against a backdrop of discussions about bail reform that have been covered terribly by the national news media. There is no…