Question For The President: Who Are The Real Thugs?

thug lifeby Attorney Jerry Girley, Esq.

Dear Mr. President:
I felt inclined to take the extraordinary step of writing to ask that you reconsider the use of the term thug when referring to African American youths. I am not a critic of your administration and I have no intentions of becoming one. I enthusiastically embraced your candidacy from its inception.

Similarly, I proudly voted for you in 2008 and again in 2012. I also encouraged others in my community to vote for you as well. As an African American pastor and as a Civil Rights lawyer my hope was not that you would be partial to communities of color, but rather that you would, at a minimum, deal with our community with an even hand.

A couple of days ago I listened very carefully to your comments regarding the Freddie Gray matter in

 PhoenixAG banner 300
 HallsDirect Banner300
 UOB Logo 300

Baltimore, Maryland. I stand with you, as it relates to your characterization of the actions of a few misguided youths as criminal behavior.

However, I was troubled by your characterization of these young people as thugs. This term delegitimizes and dehumanizes them. More troubling, this term thug, energizes and emboldens those who are predisposed to look at African Americans as less than human and, therefore, undeserving of the dignity and respect that is owed to all human beings. Surely "these people" must be beyond reaching if the President of the United States, a Black man, by his very powerful words suggests that their humanity is suspect. I am sure that this was never your intent, but the reality is that your words helped some and hurt others. We have all done things in our youth that we hope will never see the light of day. We all have sinned and fallen short of the glory that our creator intended for us. That is why I was inspired by the candid discussion,contained in your book, which detailed how you lost your way and committed unlawful acts. It's inspiring to know you later found your way back to the higher path. The world is thankful that you did. More importantly, those young people that you spoke so harshly about are thankful that you regained your moral and intellectual footing.

Therefore, I respectfully ask you sir, do you not allow space or grace for those who have been forced to live under such extreme and hostile conditions? If I may be candid, what concerns me most is that you spoke disparagingly of these young people of color with greater ease than you spoke about the lawless governmental actors that continually trample upon their humanity. If those who damage property are thugs, what word is appropriate to describe government officials, that time and again, callously snuff out precious African American lives?

For that matter, what exactly is a thug? If by the term thug it is meant Tortured Humans Under Great Stress, then these young people are thugs, and so am I. And so are you. Even in the high office of President, the weight and the attendant stressors of institutional racism pose an impermeable barrier to achieving your worthy policy goals and objectives. It is not productive to resort to name calling in any instance. It is right, however, to attack issues and to call acts what they are: good or bad. Conversely, it is counterproductive to make sweeping negative characterizations about groups of people based upon one troubling day in their lives. Nevertheless, If you are inclined to continue to speak about individuals in this manner. I respectfully ask that you please be completely inclusive in your usage of the term thug.


Jerry Girley, Esquire

Founded in 2007, The Girley Law Firm, P.A. focuses it efforts in three main areas of the law: Civil Rights, Criminal Defense and Social Security.  Web site:
Location: 125 East Marks Street Orlando, Fl. 32803 Ph.(407) 540-9866 Fax:(407) 540-8767