And so the time has come once again.
A time when it appears as if it is open season on the Black man in America.
Though this has seemed to be the way things have been in the U.S. for quite some time, it is still very surreal to see individuals who would otherwise deem themselves to be fine, upstanding Americans rationalize the legal killing of Black men, women and children without recourse throughout this great country of ours.
From my point of view it would appear as if the age old fear of the rabid, out of control Negro buck that has its roots firmly implanted in slavery is at the heart of it all.
Many so-called “well-meaning” White people on the liberal left and conservative right will find themselves in the same company on matters pertaining to both containing and limiting this supposed threat. If they were truly honest with themselves, many of these individuals would admit that they believe most Black people (men in particular) are dangerous, prone to criminality and should be policed harshly and without impunity.
Racially motivated law enforcement and criminal justice measures have dogged the Black community in America for a very long time. From the very first professional police force being formed to catch runaway slaves (1704), to convict leasing (1890-1944), the War on Drugs (1971 to present), Rockefeller Drug Laws (1970), Three Strikes felony laws (1994) and Stop and Frisk (2002), there’s always something on the books that is aimed directly or indirectly at minority males, especially Black men.
This is the one belief that many have secretly and overtly shared since the Reconstruction era. They believe the Black man cannot police or control himself. So the common practice has always been to flood Black neighborhoods with the meanest, toughest, most callous officers they can find. They are then allowed to operate unimpeded with little to no oversight.
In addition to those officers who use bully-style policing tactics, high crime areas often are used as a training ground for rookie officers as well. Oftentimes, the life and death of a brother lies in the competence, or lack thereof, as appears was the case in the death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley at the hands of rookie officer Peter Liang.
The New York Times recently reported that, according to the Sentencing Project, “white Americans overestimate the proportion of crime committed by people of color and associate people of color with crime.” Sometimes the overestimation is as high as 20-30 percent. It is almost certain that this very same mindset is shared by many high-ranking law enforcement officials despite access to information that says otherwise.
The sad part about the police in many inner city communities is that while their charter says they are there to protect and serve, property appears to take precedent over person as far as protection is concerned. They appear to be only serving those with power, the upper class and, in far too many instances, their own self interests.
We are told that police officers who abuse their power are the extreme minority, but our neighborhoods are inundated by hate-minded police officers of all hues and we’re told it’s because we don’t know how to act and are told to chew and swallow that repugnant lie. Yet we’re supposed to quantify our separation from criminality in words or overt deeds. Shouldn’t the presumption of innocence be the default stance? Not if you’re Black or Hispanic. Meanwhile those with badges are left undisciplined and in some cases promoted for beating the defenseless and shooting the unarmed?
To be clear, I am talking about the rank and file, flatfoot police officer on patrol who hates his job, and behaves as if he hates the community he is forced to serve in even moreso. But I’m also speaking of those in power who witness patterns of ineptitude and malice and consistently draw a thin blue line between what is right and what is in the best interests of the police officers whose actions are called into question, and those who wish to cover up murders, force false confessions, hide evidence and collude with weak local prosecutors to imprison the innocent or exonerate the guilty if they happen to have been wearing a badge when their alleged crimes occurred.
There are those who would rather we give the police a break. After all, they do have a difficult job. However, that provides no solace for the dead and those wrongfully affected, whether done so accidentally, justifiably or nefariously. We’re supposed to give the police officers a pass simply because they have a tough job? This is a bitter and revolting pill that is being force fed to the disenfranchised, downtrodden and trampled.
As the dialectic regarding Black-on-Black crime continues to hit the mainstream news due to non-violent protests shedding light on the unfortunate reality of cop shootings of unarmed African American males the city that gets mentioned the most is Chicago, Illinois. “What about Chicago?” they say. “I don’t see nobody marching over the high murder rates in Chicago.” That could either be a misnomer or a straight up lie depending on several factors.
Going By The Numbers
There have been countless candlelight vigils, rallies and marches to bring attention to the fact that children are killing one another in the Second City over the years. However, as painful as these individual killings may be, the overall murder rate for Chicago has been trending downward since topping off at a grisly 796 in 1996. However, even that grim toll is down from the record 970 homicides in 1974. The Chicago murder rate in 2013 was 441 which isn’t far from the 1928 number of 498.
Recently, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was engaged in a debate with noted author and Professor Dr. Michael Eric Dyson over Blacks being murdered by police and he pulled out the “Black on Black crime” card. These stats, which are readily quoted by members of the Republican right, seem to say that African Americans are more destructive and violent thus deserving of the type of policing they encounter on a daily basis.
Giuliani quoted FBI statistics that stated African American murder victims are killed by other African Americans 93 percent of the time and claimed that justified the type of policing urban communities receive, but he slyly neglected to mention the fact that murderers and their victims are far more likely be of the same ethnicity or social standing than not.
White murderers share the same race as their victim 86 percent of the time. So, following Giuliani’s line of thinking, White neighborhoods should face similar racial profiling and “Broken Window” policing tactics based upon their overwhelming representation for such crimes as forcible rape (more than double that of Blacks), aggravated assault, burglary, larceny (more than 2-1), car theft, arson (3-1), weapons possession, vandalism (nearly 4-1), drug abuse (more than 3-1), offenses against family and children (2-1), violation of liquor laws (more than 6-1) driving under the influence (12-1), drunkenness (more than 10-1), vagrancy (nearly 3-1) and loitering, right?
Conversely, 62.1 percent of all drug-related homicides committed in the U.S. between 1980 and 2008 involved Black victims while only 36.9 percent of drug-related homicide victims were White.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics information also states that the homicide rate among black males has decreased overall since 1980. However, as of 2008, Black males between the ages of 18-24 had the highest victimization rate of 91.1 homicides per 100,000, which is double the homicide rate of Black males ages 25 and up (38.4) and almost triple the homicide rate of Black males 14 to 17 (31.1).
Though the FBI statistics regarding murder in the African American community do give one cause to pause, those same statistics state that 69.2 percent of all Americans arrested in 2011 were White, 28.4 were Black and nearly 70 percent of all adults arrested were also White.
According to those very same FBI statistics, the overall American murder rate peaked in 1990 at the height of the crack cocaine era, with homicide numbers of Black and White Americans increasing exponentially, and began a steady downward trend followed by an uptick between 2004 and 2005 before another period of decline in 2008.
Also, according to that FBI data, Whites killed each other at a higher number than that of African Americans: 2,630 to 2,289 in 2011. Yet no outcry for increased policing to stop the rampant white on white murder rates. Where are the gruff and tough crime speeches?
White on White Crime
Additionally, you’ll never guess what group of Americans was responsible for more than half the gang-related murders in the United States between 1980 and 2004? Before you answer, keep in mind that these individuals are seldom seen on such law enforcement propaganda shows as “Gangland” or “Lockdown”, and when they are they’re often romanticized.
Give up? Well, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, the answer is White folks. White American offenders are reported to have committed 53.3 percent of all gang-related homicides between 1980 and 2004 while 56.5 percent of all gang-related homicide victims over that span were Whites.
Whites were also more likely to commit murder in the workplace, murder during a sex crime, murder a family member, a loved one, an infant or an elder, murder multiple victims, and be a part of a conspiracy to commit murder than people of African descent.
Where’s the outcry? Where are the nightly news reports broadcast live from the grim streets of suburbia? Where are outraged right-wing politicians?
Comparatively, Black Americans were more likely to murder over drugs, during an argument and to use a firearm when committing murder.
Crime Isn’t a Black Problem But an American One
When we take the raw data into consideration the ongoing idealization of America’s crime being fueled by Black people looks like a massive, racist lie and the sad part is that a great number of African Americans from all classes and backgrounds believe this black fear mongering myth to be absolute truth.
According to a 2007 Columbia Symposium on Racial Fairness in Criminal Justice noted Harvard Professor Randall Kennedy reminds us that eleven of the twenty-one blacks who were then members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of the law which created the 100-to-1 crack–powder differential.
The last time I said “Hello” to a police officer without trying to be an a-hole I was briefly detained, searched and they checked my name for warrants. All that just for greeting an officer. Now, with the recent killing of two NYPD officers every Black person who protested the police killings of Eric Garner and Mike Brown are supposed to issue statements denouncing violence against the police? Why should they? Absolutely ridiculous. We’re Americans. It should go without saying that we want our neighborhoods policed and do not want harm to come to those serving and protecting. What we don’t want is to be racially profiled, brutalized and shot dead over such nebulous offenses as hopping the subway, wearing a hoodie, taking a wallet out or selling loose Newports. We want good community policing. It should not be a foregone conclusion that police are ultra aggressive in Black neighborhoods simply because it’s a Black neighborhood.
We just want justice.
Whether the murderer is a Black gangster or a White police officer. People who bring up the black-on-black scenario to divert from Black males being far more likely to be shot by the police always neglect to mention that the overwhelming majority of Blacks who kill other Blacks are arrested, convicted and sentenced for their crimes. In fact, a sad minority among these Black convicted killers haven’t killed anyone at all yet still see jail time because they got caught up in a racist system with no resources to defend themselves.
According to the Innocence Project, 70 percent of the people exonerated by DNA have been people of color. Twenty of those people were sentenced to death and were cleared by DNA. To date, the Innocence Project and its affiliates have cleared 325 cases in 38 states. However, their resources pale in comparison to potentially thousands of prisoners who would be good candidates. How many innocent brothers have been sentenced to death? Lord only knows.
Despite over 14 people of color being killed while unarmed by law enforcement this year alone, not one of these officers has faced any charges.
Many poor people of African and Hispanic descent scoff at the very idea of American justice. They rarely see it play out in their favor. What do they get? Non-violent marches, looting and destruction of business in our own neighborhoods, grand jury disappointments and, if the family of the deceased is lucky, they might be able to get a couple donations, or a civil settlement. And that’s a major “might.” However, what the families of those slain by the police can expect is to have their loved ones’ name dragged through the mud by many in the media in a blatant propaganda power play.
For example when 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot in by a Cleveland Police officer a local news affiliate felt like it was a good practice to tell their readers that young Rice was from a broken home and mentioned the arrest records of his mother and father. Similarly, video of an image police allege is Mike Brown was released before the name of the officer who gunned him down was released.
A similar postmortem media smear campaign was attempted in the shooting death of 28-year-old Akai Gurley by NYPD Officer Peter Liang by the New York Daily News. It’s all to paint an all too familiar picture in the minds of the American public. That picture being that, even in the unfortunate or accidental death of a Black suspect, he was likely guilty of something anyway. Thus, alluding to law enforcement doing us all a favor, right?
The reason seems very clear.The perfect way to discredit the dead is by criminalizing him or her. Similarly, the perfect way to excuse over the top police tactics in Black neighborhoods is by creating the belief that most criminals are Black.
On Saturday, December 20, NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu were shot execution style while sitting in their patrol car in Brooklyn by 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley. The alleged assailant then went in a nearby subway station and shot himself in the head, dying later in the hospital. Almost immediately, blame was being placed on those who had nothing to do with this incident. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the occasion for a sleazy attack on President Obama, blaming both him and Black non-violent protestors for the officer’s murder and, in classic style, lied and misstated facts before a conservative television audience who lapped up his every word. This misguided, completely unfounded attack was complemented by the actions of New York City Police Union President Pat Lynch, who placed blame for the officers’ deaths on City Hall and Mayor De Blasio, stating “That blood on the hands starts at the steps of City Hall, in the office of the mayor. After the funerals, those responsible will be call on the carpet and held accountable.” To add further insult to injury, police officers at the hospital turned their backs on the Mayor when he arrived at the hospital to check on the officers, and Lynch suggested that police officers sign a petition stating that they did not want May De Blasio to attend their funerals if they died on the job.
Yet while those individuals fanned the flames of animosity, furthering the tensions between police officers and communities, the families of both Michael Brown and Eric Garner called for peace both during and after the verdicts, with Garner’s family condemning the murders of the innocent police officers.
But this animus isn’t anything new.
“F.T.P.” (X-Clan), “Cop Killer” (Ice T), “F#ck the Police” (N.W.A.) are songs that are each over 20 years old. Yet these out of touch individuals will say these hard feelings sprung up over the past year. People have been blaming gangster rap for the killing of police for at least that long yet police brutality has been occurring in Black communities since the 1700s. This unfortunate happening has been politicized by the right, side-tracked away from the facts and positioned as being the fault of elected officials. Below is an internal email circulated by the New York Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.
“Starting IMMEDIATELY: At least two units are to respond to EVERY call, no matter the condition or severity, no matter what type of job is pending, or what the opinion of the patrol supervisor happens to be.“IN ADDITION: Absolutely NO enforcement action in the form of arrests and or summonses is to be taken unless absolutely necessary and an individual MUST be placed under arrest.
“These are precautions that were taken in the 1970′s when police officers were ambushed and executed on a regular basis.
“The mayor’s hands are literally dripping with our blood because of his words actions and policies and we have, for the first time in a number of years, become a ‘wartime’ police department. We will act accordingly.”
Dastardly is an understatement. One can only imagine what the term “act accordingly” was really alluding to. A civilian law enforcement body that is using a term like “war” is beyond irresponsible. So who exactly is he talking about? If he’s talking about Black people then the “war” footing he’s speaking of has been apparent in minority communities for over a century. These deeds were those of a crazed gunman who was a career criminal and who acted on his own.
Yet his shooting spree is on the hands of protestors and elected officials? Preposterous.
These are the people that non-violent protestors are trying to reason with, but it’s hard to argue with a fool. These callous, cold-hearted, power mad individuals who speak half truths and full lies are a major part of the opposition and have a long history of double-speak and falsehoods. A very peculiar thing about both Lynch and Giuliani is that they spread this lie that Black people never had any problems with the police until Obama told them to “hate police”.
The assertion would be laughable if it wasn’t such a bald-headed lie. How does one battle a lie? With the constant allegiance to the truth and the broadcasting of said truth with vigor and consistency.