Are the Police Racist?

Are American police departments, by and large, racist? The belief that they are – that belief was held by Micah Johnson, who shot 11 officers, and at least five fatally. It also appears to be the belief of Black Lives Matter, whose name appears to be based on the assumption that it expresses a thought that is necessary to express; that is to say, it appears to be based on the presumption that there are people who are saying, in effect, that black lives do not matter. And to the extent that their focus is upon the police, they are effectively saying that it is the police who, if not by their words, then by their deeds are saying this.

For this perception, the shooting of Alton Sterling certainly provides some credence. On the other hand, while the officer was white, and Sterling black, this does not necessarily mean Sterling was shot because he was black. This may have been simply a case of extreme police brutality, as opposed to brutality directed specifically toward blacks.

Supporting this view, John Hinderaker compares statistics from the Washington Post and from the Justice Department finds that the percentage of those fatally shot by police who were black is a very close to the percentage of violent crimes that are committed by blacks. (26% to 24%Most of us have seen the video of the shooting of Alton Sterling; how many, however, have seen Hinderaker’s statistics? Which is not to suggest they would be dispositive.  But they do provide a counter-narrative.  Might they have given someone like Micah Johnson some pause? Probably no one can really say, but it does seem clear that knowing such information certainly would not hurt. 

Currently, in response to the Dallas shooting, Donald Trump declares himself to be the “law and order” candidate and, (in the words of Chris Matthews,) Hillary Clinton calls for more “love and kindness.” What are the bases for these two differing positions? That could be the basis for the kind of debate discussed on the homepage of this website. It could give some outlet to those who are frustrated; who believe they are not being heard. On both sides.

 

7/14/16

 

 

 

 

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