Strange Fruit

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Sabrina Butler Porter was 17 when she found her baby Walter unresponsive and not breathing. Her attempts at CPR to save his life resulted in bruising that lead police in Mississippi to accuse her of child abuse. She was wrongfully convicted of her baby’s murder and spent more than 6 years in prison – nearly three of those on death row.

“Being on death row, I wasn’t told that the state had to exhaust all remedies before they could actually carry out the death sentence,” she explained. “I paced the floor every day,” she remembers, “trying to figure out when they coming to kill me.”

Walter Dean Butler

Walter Dean Butler
Credit: sabrinabutler.webs.com

Porter’s conviction was overturned when new lawyers took her case and it was discovered that Walter had died of kidney disease. She now works with Witness to Innocence, an organization that helps death row exonerees become advocates against the death penalty.

Between her speaking engagements in Kentucky last week, she stopped by our studios to tell her story and talk about how her experiences shaped her view of the criminal justice system.

“I didn’t have anybody in my corner,” she says. “They knew that I was a young black girl, really didn’t know nothing, so they took advantage of that.”

In our Juicy Fruit segment, we talk about whether Jamie Foxx crossed the line with his jokes about Bruce Jenner at the I Heart Radio Awards. Foxx’s remark that Jenner would be “doing a his-and-her duet, all by himself,” drew accusations of transphobia.

And these days, a week just doesn’t seem complete without another head-scratching gaffe from Raven-Symoné. This time, she claims her ancestry is from “every continent in Africa but one.” Jaison tries to break down why “new black”-touting personalities like Raven and Don Lemon are so captivating to the public imagination, while Dr. Story just wants Raven to “read a book or two … hundred.”

And we pause to acknowledge the murder of Walter Scott in South Carolina. Scott was pulled over for a broken tail light and ran away from Officer Michael Slager, who then shot him in the back, killing him.

The officer initially claimed Scott had taken his Taser and tried to use it against him. But a bystander video showed otherwise, with Slager appearing to drop the Taser next to Scott’s body after he’d been shot.

The officer has been fired, and charged with murder. Does this mean the tide is turning in favor of consequences for unnecessary use of force by police? We talk about it at the close of this week’s show.

Laura oversees WFPL's podcast strategy and produces Curious Louisville, where listeners submit questions and our reporters find out the answers.