A black woman named Heather Ellis is looking at 15 years in prison for cutting in line at a Wal-Mart store. Ellis, who is a teacher and has been described as respectable, joined her cousin in a check-out line that was moving faster than the line she was previously in. After Ellis joined this line, she alleged that white customers and employees began to use racial slurs, pushed her, and police officers physically and verbally mistreated her. A police report states that Ellis pushed merchandise off the conveyor belt, resisted arrest, and threatened the officers, all of whom were white. Even if Ellis did resist arrest, a 15 year prison sentence seems to be a bit much for such an offense. None of the accusations that the police officers made merit the punishment that they are seeking. It is quite clear that this sentence is the product of outright racism.
“Black Teacher May Get 15 Years in Prison for Cutting in Line at Wal-Mart.” http://www.alternet.org/rights/144189/black_teacher_may_get_15_years_in_prison_for_cutting_in_line_at_wal-mart/?page=2
Student Researchers: Shannon Cree, Anna Kung, Delana Colvin
Faculty Instructor: Kevin Howley, Associate Professor of Media Studies, DePauw University
Evaluator: Jo MacPhail, Part-time Instruction and Reference Librarian, DePauw University