Law enforcement recently went out of its way to extend the courtesy of White privilege toward a man who violated his probation after being convicted for threatening to assassinate then-President Barack Obama. When police were finally able to locate Jonathan Smead in Washington state last month after he traveled illegally from his home in Ohio weeks earlier, he wasn’t arrested. Instead, he was taken to a hotel, NBC Washington reported.
Smead, who is obviously White, was reportedly “highly intoxicated” when the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Department found him on October 3. Likely feeling empowered by his ability to dodge serious punishment after threatening to kill a sitting American president and Hillary Clinton, Smead never returned to his Ohio home as was expected and promptly went back on the run for about another month until police finally arrested him in Las Vegas this week.
Smead was sentenced to five years of probation after the Secret Service accused him of phoning in the death threat against Obama in 2016.
It goes without saying, but the fact that Smead was never behind bars at all until the second violation of his probation – an offense that routinely ends with jailing, especially for Black people – is one of the more egregious recent examples of White privilege. Officials had two chances to justifiably put him in prison, and both times decided it wasn’t warranted.
Meanwhile, rogue Florida rapper Kodak Black faced eight years in prison for violating his own probation over a “visit to a Miami strip club, his attendance at a boxing match and his excessive burping at an anger management class,” the Sun Sentinel reported in April. The reason why Kodak Black was on probation wasn’t immediately clear, but he definitely didn’t threaten to assassinate a president.
Missouri State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal was publicly shamed by her fellow legislators earlier this year after the Black politician in St. Louis posted on her personal Facebook page, “I hope Trump is assassinated!” While she never made an active threat on the president’s life, calls grew for her to resign – calls that she resisted, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“They understand that I have made a mistake,” Chappelle-Nadal said about her voters while she was censured by the Missouri State Senate in September.
One thing that is probably not understood by Chappelle-Nadal’s constituents, who are overwhelmingly Black, is going relatively unpunished for threatening to kill a sitting president — a feat that was accomplished by Smead, with an assist from the trusty American justice system, of course.