When we say the legal system is inherently racist and operates with a bias toward Black people, we aren’t just talking abstractly about the way U.S. laws are written. The police, lawyers, judges— they’re all in on it.
So while most people reacted with disgust and dismay at the news of a home video full of racial slurs from Louisiana judge Michelle Odinet, it was pretty unsurprising for those of us who know America’s justice system isn’t immune to racism.
On Wednesday, Odinet announced through her lawyer that she would be taking an unpaid leave of absence, CBS affiliate KLFY reports.
The video was taken during the aftermath of an attempted burglary at a home that was later identified to belong to Odinet and her husband. There were multiple voices caught on the footage laughing about the failed burglary, repeating the n-word and asking for a gun.
According to CNN, Odinet said she had no “recollection of the video and the disturbing language used during it” because she had conveniently been “given a sedative” at the time of the video to sleep.
It’s shameful how these sedative and melatonin brands can get away with leaving “racism” off the side effects list.
“My children and I were the victim of an armed burglary at our home. The police were called, and the assailant was arrested. The incident shook me to my core and my mental state was fragile,” she said.
Here’s more from CNN:
The Lafayette Police Department said that at approximately 2:00 a.m. Saturday, two vehicles were burglarized in the driveway of a home, which records show is owned by Odinet and her husband.
The suspect attempted to flee on foot but was caught by the victim, who police said was returning home when they saw the suspect getting out of one of the vehicles at the home. The victim held the suspect down until officers arrived, according to the statement from police.
In the video circulating online, a male voice can be heard saying, “And Mom’s yelling n***er, n***er.” Then after what appears to be some jovial banter, a female voice is heard saying, “We have a n ***er, It’s a n***er, like a roach,” while laughing.
The group continues talking back and forth, at one point laughing at someone in the surveillance video tripping and someone else losing their wallet.
Then a male voice is heard saying, “That’s my phone where it fell out.”
“The dude had a phone on him,” a female voice chimes in. “You should have taken his phone and stolen from him, that f**king a**hole.”
“Go and get the gun,” says another voice. “It’s important, very important,” says a male voice as the video continues.
“Anyone who knows me and my husband, knows this is contrary to the way we live our lives. I am deeply sorry and ask for your forgiveness and understanding as my family and I deal with the emotional aftermath of this armed burglary,” Odinet said in a statement to cover her ass.
KLFY reports that the Louisiana Supreme Court will look to appoint an interim judge while Odinet lets time cover up her misdeeds. Her attorney, Dane Ciolino, said that Odinet was “embarrassed and humiliated and sorry for what she has done and the harm she has caused to the community.” As she should be.
However, some in the community do not want to see Odinet back on the bench.
“We call now for her immediate and uncompromising resignation, failing same, we demand swift and immediate act by the Judiciary Committee of the Louisiana Supreme Court, removing her from office,” said Michael Toussaint, president of the local NAACP chapter in Lafayette, according to CNN. The Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus also called for her resignation.
The Mayor-President of Lafayette’s Consolidated Government, Josh Guillory, said that the language heard in the video was “hurtful, divisive, and unacceptable.”
“The fairness and objectivity of our courts are the foundation of our legal system. It is my hope that the judge will do what is best to help the community heal and move forward,” Guillory said in a statement.