Tyler Perry and the Pursuit of Justice

Tyler Perry is a breath of fresh air. He has an amazing story of rising from poverty and homelessness to become a Hollywood succes story. His films are always inspirational and well known, and his live performances are always sold out. The man is pure gold. He is a great example of what is possible when an individual is determined to succeed, and takes advantage of the opportunities that are available for use. In the last couple of days he has proven to be even more impressive as a humanitarian and seeker of justice. He has gotten involved in a cold case involving two men who dissappeared about fifteen years ago under suspicious circumstacnces. The two men, one black, and one a Mexico immigrant were were last seen with the same Police deputy from the Collier Police Department in Naples Florida before their disappearance. Both men, Terrance Williams and Felipe Santos were last seen with deputy Steve Calkin who is the only suspect in the case. He gave conflicting accounts of what transpired the last time they were seen. He was investigated and cleared of any wrong doing in each case, but was fired from the departent for providing contradictory information, and not cooperating fully with the investigation. It is must be heart wrenching for the men’s families.

Marcia Williams, the mother of Terrance Williams never gave up in the search for justice for her son. Due to her persistence, she managed to get the attention of Tyler Perry who took an interest in the case. After learning more about the case, Perry decided to add his voice and celebrity to the cause to draw attention and assist in resolving it. In an interview with Good Morning America Tyler Perry spoke to the hosts about his interest in the case, and he shared some really deep insight on the pursuit of justice for Terrance and Felipe. It was a welcome sound to hear Mr. Perry give his reason for getting involved in the case and offering a $200,000 reward for credible information on the men. He made a simple yet profound statement and said that it is not “a black and white issue,”  it is “not about us against the police.” Finally! A celebrity getting involved in one of these cases, and not immediately turning it into a side show of the cops and the system being against and out to get black people. Perry reiterated that the Police have been “fantastic” and “want justice” just like he does. He said “everything has become about race…this is not a black or white issue, this is about justice…I want us to get away from everything being black or white.” Plaudits to Mr. Perry for not letting the search for justice descend into a race pimping affair. He identified an apparent injustice that may have been committed against these young men, he is helping their families and working with the police department in the pursuit of justice. 

When a family loses  a loved one to police brutality, there is nothing that anyone can say to ease the pain that the family suffers at the loss. It is no comfort to say to that family that the police are not all bad, and that the family’s lost loved one is just an isolated incident. That does not matter. Seeking and getting justice is the only important thing. As Tyler Perry said “it is a matter of justice.” Seeking justice is what should happen in all of these incidents. These incidens unfortunately often get portrayed as black people against the police. Mr. Perry is careful to avoid that mistake even though he has coordinated with America’s supreme race hustler Al Sharpton. He and the police have the same goal which is finding justice for these two men, and not turning it into a race war against the police because that is not helpful to the family either. If these men suffered an untimely death at the hands of a rogue police officer, then no effort should be spared in bringing that police officer to justice. In addition, every effort must be made to eliminate whatever led to the violence perpetrated against a citizen, committed in the ultimate betrayal of trust by an individual who is supposed to protect and serve. Even if this incident turns out to be about race, it is not about black people against the police. It is about a racist policeman against Terrance Williams, Felipe Santos and his family. We live in an imperfect world and things often go wrong, even with all of the protections that are in place to guard against them. Thank you Tyler Perry for keeping the focus where it needs to be, on finding justice not stirring racial discontent.  

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