A two-tiered justice system is nothing new — and certainly not what Trump says it is

It may come as a surprise to hear that I actually agree with Donald Trump on something: America does have a two-tiered system of justice. In fact, you could say I beat him to it since I reached that conclusion long before the former president adopted it as his mantra.

I was not even in grade school when my older brother was arrested. While I didn’t know much about the world, I always thought that you had to do something terrible for law enforcement to haul you away. I also knew my brother Tony. And, though he teased me in the annoying way big brothers do, I valued him not only as a brother and friend, but as a pretty cool dude. So, I knew he couldn’t be the bad guy.

I still remember that night.

My mom and dad, fresh off the joy of a church dance, were confronted with the crisis when they hit the front door, and they scrambled to find the deed to the house in case they needed it to bail their son out (because if my father had anything to say about it, Tony was not going to spend a night in jail).

I was more confused when I discovered his “crime,” sitting down in a diner and ordering a burger.

That was it?

It really was the “system,” I realized, not my brother. Maryland law, at a time not that long ago, allowed business owners to bar Black people from their establishments. What the state did was technically legal — but wrong. I was sure of it.

An unjust law allowed the police whose salary my parents paid with their taxes to handcuff, fingerprint and jail my big brother because people who looked like my family were not included in an oath to “protect and serve.”

It was definitely a two-tiered system of justice, one that folks like my three eldest siblings and civil rights lawyer Juanita Jackson Mitchell — whose expertise brought my brother home — worked to correct with activism and courage, an adjective that definitely does not apply to Trump’s Jan. 6 army of lawbreakers.

That the activists’ job is not done is clear when poor folks and minorities, often represented by overworked public defenders, languish in jails when they haven’t been tried or convicted of anything.

It’s why my solidarity with Trump ends when you dive into the actual details.