Charleston May be the Saratoga or Gettysburg in this War on Fathers.
By Dr. Leon R. Koziol
Here in Charleston, it’s not just another racially charged killing in America. It’s much more. A black man was shot dead in the back by a white cop because of a money debt called “child support.” This is the elephant in the court room which everyone is ignoring, almost as if such obligations were sacred simply because the word “child” is attached.
Yet because of this money debt and an arrest warrant from a support judge, this heinous murder occurred. Such warrants are doled out like candy and countless fathers do not even know they exist. Substandard notice procedures are employed because these are supposedly civil courts with no criminal implications. But as the Walter Scott incident abundantly proved, these warrants are anything but civil. Debtor fathers are treated like criminals in the end. Poor notice procedures are akin to being shot in the back as a defenseless man.
Indeed in my civil rights reports, I have shown how the federal government and our family courts are literally criminalizing fatherhood for revenue generating purposes. Any competent investigation by our Justice Department must include the judge, lawyers and participants of a court process which treats fathers as lower class citizens due to their birth status. These money obligations are imposed in discriminatory fashion with minority fathers especially abused.
It was all explained in my 2012 report hand- delivered to our Justice Department and a public initiative summary made public only weeks prior to this travesty entitled “We Are Fathers.” Child support is enforced through draconian means with debtor prisons as their ultimate outcome. If it was not for a court process which is getting increasingly out of control, a more routine ending would have occurred. A traffic ticket would have issued and Walter Scott would have been on his way home .
If these courts were truly family friendly, if fathers were truly respected as parents, and if greed did not trump the true best interests of our children, no warrant would have issued to cause a desperate father to flee the scene of a simple traffic stop. Fathers are not just second class citizens in our family courts, they have been reduced to sub-class status with less parental authority than teachers and teen baby sitters.
To be sure, fathers are routinely made to exercise a degrading form of parenting known as “visitation,” a term more properly applied to prisons and funerals. Whenever someone mentions child support, a male pronoun is always attached. Indeed, fathers do not even get the respect of having the phrase “dead beat dad” treated for what it is, a sexist slur.
Walter Scott ran from the scene not because of a broken tail light, not because he was black, not because of any crime he had committed. He ran because he had been in family court enough times to know that he could not get a fair shake there. He knew that child support was often used for purposes other than the child. It was a scene that could have played out anywhere in America.
This dad knew that if he surrendered to this cop, he would be thrown into a debtors’ prison, there would be no jury of peers to decide his fate, and one person in a robe, rewarded by the number of support orders to be enforced, could not rule impartially. Why even show up to such a kangaroo operation when the only crime that Walter Scott committed was that he was born the wrong way under antiquated laws.
Protesters are now running out of steam to maintain any ongoing purpose here. Unlike other racially charged incidents, the people and government of South Carolina are not trying to justify the aberrant behavior of Officer Slager. They had him promptly charged with murder, committed to jail without bail, and they even surrendered their investigative authority to outside agencies. Unless I’m missing something, what more could be done?
Well, if I may be heard, not only as a white man but as a civil rights attorney who took on the challenges that no one else would, you have an epic purpose here. It is one that could make civil rights history. But I assert this as a parent. It is a status I have in common with this victim and one that could unite all Americans behind a worthy cause to root out corruption in our nation’s divorce and family courts.
Walter Scott is someone I can relate to as a father. I have resisted the same draconian debt collection practices for reasons too numerous to state here. They are aptly provided in prior posts here at Leon Koziol.com. In short , these practices violate rights under the American Constitution which our military fights each day to preserve only to return to the same unjust laws.
Walter Scott’s sacrifice cannot be allowed to go without real purpose. He is our turning point in this war on fathers. When a loving dad is shot dead in the back fleeing from a child support warrant, all fathers become victims. This is our fraternal bond since the time of creation itself. My objective here in Charleston knows no color or origin. It remains the final frontier of civil rights reform left unchecked in America today.
Dr. Leon R. Koziol
Civil Rights Advocate
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