“Just Mercy” is a compelling true-to-life film written by civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson that could explain why millions support the ongoing protest rallies.
Since this Warner Bros. movie was released only in December 2019, the story and its message about systemic injustices against black Americans is still fresh in the minds of those who have seen the movie.
So much so that when videos went viral, showing how a white police officer killed George Floyd in broad daylight and in plain view of the public in downtown Minneapolis, the uproar came not only from black Americans but from all races and colors, including white Americans.
To date the cries for injustice over George Floyd’s death has turned into a global protest of how America’s justice system has very little regard for the lives of black citizens. Although many contend that not only Black Lives Matter (BLM), but All Lives Matter, the story of how Walter McMillan was unjustly arrested, tried, prosecuted and sentenced to death, explains the difference.
Jamie Foxx who portrayed Walter McMillan and Michael B Jordan who reprised Bryan Stevenson’s role, were immediately seen in Minneapolis during the early days of the now 3-week long BLM protest rallies.
Who is Walter McMillan and How Did He Suffer from America’s Systemic Injustices
Walter McMillan, was an African-American from Monroeville, Alabama, who was falsely accused of murdering a young woman, but was saved from a death sentence by civil rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson.
Stevenson together with his Equal Justice Initiative staff, led by Eva Ansley (Brie Larson), were able to gather evidence that the Monroe police force, under Monroe County Sheriff Tom Tate had arrested and incarcerated McMillan based on trumped-up charges.
It turned out that the main witness who testified that McMillan was the killer, was under investigation for crimes committed in another county, but was coerced by the Monroe police to falsely testify against McMillan. The trial lasted only a day and aa half, with the jury putting more weight on the suspected felon’s false testimony, over the statements of other black citizens who testified that at the time of the murder, McMillan was with them during a church fish-fry gathering.
The all-white jury pronounced Walter McMillan guilty and had sentenced him to life imprisonment. However, presiding Judge Robert E. Lee Key, decided to override the jury’s life sentence, which he commuted to death by electrocution.
Civil Rights Lawyer Stevenson Succeeded in Appealing for the Release of MacMillan
The crime and McMillan’s sentencing took place in 1986, while it was only in 1988 that civil rights attorney Stevenson and the EIJ had the opportunity to undertake legal actions in appealing McMillan’s case.
After six years of looking for evidence that supported McMillan’s innocence, the wrongfully convicted African American was set free in 1993. Based on the pieces of evidence that the EIJ had gathered, Atty. Stevenson was able to convince the Alabama Court of Appeals that McMillian was imprisoned and sentenced to death for a crime that he did not commit. .
After his release, Mcmillan actively participated in movements that aimed to educate African Americans about legal systems. His public appearances drew attention to other wrongful convictions, which resulted to the exoneration of more than a hundred fifty wrongfully accused black Americans.
Sadly, the trauma suffered by McMillan while in death row led to the development of dementia in the last two years of his life. In 2013, Walter Mcmillan passed away at age 71 years old. Sheriff Tate on the other hand, remained with the Monroe Police Force, up to his retirement in 2019.
“Just Mercy” is highly recommended to those who would like to have a clear understanding of the reforms being sought by the Black Lives Matter protesters throughout the country and in other parts of the globe.