Culture Shock: Two Prominent African-American Judges Murdered In Four Days

The nation was shocked Monday to hear of the brutal slaying of Chicago Criminal Court Judge Raymond Myles. Initially, investigators thought the incident to be a random act of violence but have since changed their tune to characterize it as a “targeted robbery.” Since that time, 37 year-old Joshua Smith has been charged with first degree murder in the case.

Judge Myles was involved in several high-profile cases and authorities have yet to conclude whether or not his judgments in those cases played any part in his murder at the hands of Smith.

Wednesday afternoon, Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American and Muslim woman to serve on New York state’s highest court was found lifeless in the Hudson River. Judge Abdus-Salaam was a highly-regarded jurist and one who came up through the ranks the old-fashioned way: she worked for it. New York State political luminaries such as Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the court in 2013, and Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in upon the news of her passing:

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Much more investigation will be going into Adbu-Salaam’s death, early reports (rumors) chalked her death up to suicide but such notion was dismissed out of hand quickly by authorities. 

While it is most unfortunate that these two esteemed jurists would reach such a demise, the cultural loss their deaths represent is also devastating. In a divisive social and political environment that has been at times both covertly and overtly hostile to people of color and—with Donald Trump ascending to the presidency on a wave of anti-muslim rhetoric—especially to individuals of Muslim faith, we need all the positive role models and voices in positions of prominence that can possibly be.  So today, we mourn not only the perishing of their bodies, but also what the loss of their unique and powerful voices meant to the fabric of our culture. 

More as this story develops.

Think Passionately. Disrupt Strategically.
-A. Lawrence Haskins

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