Lady Justice swaps her blindfold for a body camera

Justice is still imperfect. But the average citizen, the bystander, the victim, has more power.

SHARE Lady Justice swaps her blindfold for a body camera

Police officers form a human barricade in Bronzeville during an anti-police brutality protest Saturday afternoon, Aug. 15, 2020.

Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Lady Justice is no longer blind. She wears a bodycam and holds a smart camera up to her eyes.

We saw it at the trial of the police officer who stood on George Floyd’s neck until he was dead, and we saw it again during the foot pursuit of 13-year-old Adam Toledo that led to his death in a Chicago alley.

There was video. We no longer had to take the word of an unreliable witness or a law enforcement official who shot the only available witness to death.

Columnists bug


In-depth political coverage, sports analysis, entertainment reviews and cultural commentary.

The image of a blindfolded Lady Justice, holding a sword in one hand and the scales of justice in the other, has been with us for centuries. In the United States, it’s supposed to suggest that justice is dispensed fairly in our courtrooms regardless of an individual’s wealth, race, religion or political beliefs.

In reality, this has never been true. Lady Justice could always see whether the accused was represented by a public defender or a dream team of private lawyers. She could lift that blindfold to determine if the accused was black or white. The scales of justice, held aloft by Lady Justice, were never calibrated correctly. They were weighted in favor of the government.

Justice is still imperfect. But the average citizen, the bystander, the victim, has more power.

Still, there is something missing. Something terribly wrong.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot called the April 15 video of Toledo’s shooting “excruciating” to watch.

That’s a good word for it. It means intensely painful. Mentally agonizing. Very embarrassing. It is all that and something much more.

This is a youngster who was out at 2:30 a.m. with a 21-year-old companion. Police responded to calls of gunshots fired. They found these two walking together in an alley nearby and the police say they saw Adam carrying a gun.

Prosecutors have indicated that the gun was handed to the teenager by the older man after it was fired.

What we know for sure, looking at the video, is that Adam takes off running as a policeman exits his squad car and shouts at the teenager to halt as he gives chase.

Within seconds, the 13-year-old stops near an opening in a wooden fence. Responding to the policeman’s directive to hold up his hands, Adam does exactly that. And he is shot in the chest.

In real time, it’s almost impossible to determine what happened. In slow motion and stop action it is clear Adam’s hands are empty. He is surrendering. But there is something else. It appears that eve as the youngster’s hands are going up, he throws something behind the fence.

A handgun is later found there. He may well have confused the police officer into killing him.

The public cries out for justice.

I am not sure what that means in this case.

For me, the case of Adam Toledo is more complicated and representative of everything wrong with this country than the case of George Floyd.

This is a child in the company of a 21-year-old man at 2:30 a.m. on the streets of Chicago, one of the most dangerous cities in the country. For two days, Adam’s body remained unclaimed in the morgue because, being too young to drive, he had no identification on his body.

The 21-year-old man who was with him, no apparent relation, said he did not know the name of his companion. Could not identify him for police.

There is something excruciatingly wrong with all of this. And you wonder how this sort of tragedy can happen with such frequency. Children are shot and killed — accidentally, by mistake, intentionally, repeatedly.

Justice no longer wears a blindfold. She can see it all and her hands ought to be held high in the air in the universal sign of surrender. It is all so damn sad. Excruciating.


Send letters to

The Latest
“I need to get back to being myself,” the starting pitcher told the Sun-Times, “using my full arsenal and mixing it in and out.”
Bellinger left Tuesday’s game early after crashing into the outfield wall at Wrigley Field.
Their struggling lineup is the biggest reason for the Sox’ atrocious start.
The Sox hit two homers, but Garrett Crochet allowed five runs in the 6-3 loss to the Twins.