A Black man in Lubbock, Texas, was sentenced to 70 years in prison on Wednesday for spitting at police officers. It’s the kind of story where people are likely to read the headline and assume there’s more to the story—and there is 36-year-old Larry Pearson, who was found guilty of two counts of harassment of a public servant for spitting at Lubbock Police officers, who had prior criminal convictions. According to Everything Lubbock, he had previously been convicted of aggravated robbery and continuous family violence. In fact, at the time of his arrest last year, he had been accused of striking his girlfriend multiple times.
“You’re not going to get 70 years for something like this when you’ve never been in trouble before,” Prosecutor Jessica Gorman said after Pearson was sentenced.
From Everything Lubbock:
Gorman told EverythingLubbock.com that Pearson was arrested in May of 2022 for domestic violence after a victim flagged down an officer in the 200 block of Zenith Avenue.
The victim told police that Pearson hit her several times, and that he had a gun. Gorman said that firearm turned out to be an airsoft gun. A police report at the time stated the victim had “multiple visible injuries” on her face. Gorman said after Pearson was taken into custody, he was upset the victim was not arrested instead.
Gorman said Pearson started kicking at the doors in the officer’s vehicle. When the officers opened the door to tell him to stop, Gorman said he spit at both officers. Gorman said Pearson kept spitting after he arrived at the Lubbock County Detention Center.
During closing arguments of the sentencing phase of Pearson’s trial, Gorman asked the jury to consider a number that would “send a message” to Pearson and society. Gorman told EverythingLubbock.com that Pearson had prior convictions of aggravated robbery and continuous family violence. Due to those convictions, the minimum sentence Pearson could have received would’ve been 25 years.
Still, there’s something unsettling about a Black man receiving seven decades behind bars for a crime that shouldn’t yield nearly that much time in a gun-happy, Confederacy-celebrating, critical race theory-hating MAGA state like Texas.
And given that, in America, Black people receive disproportionately harsh sentences compared to white people who commit the same crimes and have similar criminal histories, it isn’t much of a stretch to speculate that if Pearson was white, his sentence would be closer to the minimum of 25 years. And thus, Pearson’s story is being debated on Twitter with some (mostly Black people) calling it unjust, and others (mostly white people) saying he earned 70 years in lockup for crimes that individually wouldn’t get anyone anywhere near that much time.
Many would argue that no one who hasn’t taken a life should spend the rest of theirs in prison and that Pearson is just another example of Black lives being treated as disposable. And it’s worth noting that this is another story that proves the “blue lives matter” movement is defective nonsense in a country where penalties for committing crimes against police officers are already more severe than when they’re committed against civilians. (Pearson wouldn’t likely have gotten that much time for spitting on a citizen regardless of his prior rap sheet.)
But will a man who has prior convictions that indicate he’s a violent abuser receive the same sympathy other victims of racial injustice get?
What do y’all think?
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