Alabama shooting highlights race-crime disparities

Amy Bishop “went postal” at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. On Jan. 26, the Harvard educated biology professor received a termination letter from the dean of the college of sciences. This apparently did not go over well with Bishop, because on Feb. 12, the day that her termination from the University of Alabama would be effective, she shot six colleagues, killing three.

The public was initially outraged by the incident. “She was just phenomenally smart, and she had the moods to go along with it. But I never saw her violent,” said Debbie Kosarick, an old neighbor of Bishop in The Patriot Ledger, a Boston area newspaper. That public outcry would escalate as America learned that Amy had a dark criminal history.

In 1986, Bishop shot and killed her brother, but the incident was later found to be an “accidental shooting.” In another incident, Bishop became a suspect when a double pipe bomb was mailed to the home of one of her colleagues in 1993. The bomb never detonated and no one was ever charged.

At an International House of Pancakes in 2002, Bishop yelled obscenities and assaulted a woman for refusing to give her the last booster seat. She was initially charged with assault, battery and disorderly conduct, but the charges were dismissed six months later because Bishop reportedly “stayed out of trouble.”

Bishop was ordered to seek anger management for the 2002 incident but she never did.
Bishop has been loose in society for years and it took a tragic incident such as this one for officials to finally say, “enough is enough.”

What if a similar situation involved an African-American woman? Would she have received as many chances as Bishop? Does the judicial system treat people the same regardless of race?

A new Ohio State University study found that blacks convicted of killing whites are not only more likely than non-whites to receive a death sentence but are also more likely to be executed.

These findings are relevant to this case, since three of Bishop’s victims were minorities.

David Jacobs, co-author of the study and professor of sociology at Ohio State University, said, ” The disparity in execution rates based on the race of victims suggests our justice system places greater value on white lives, even after sentences are handed down.”

The Bishop case brings to light the problem of racial disparities in the legal system. While it seems unfair, African-Americans must understand that we are not on a level playing field with other races, so we cannot conduct ourselves in the same manner and expect similar outcomes.