Monday, April 30, 2007

Race Gap Cited in Traffic Searches

Race Gap Cited in Traffic Searches - AP

My PC meter was just short-circuited. I witnessed a man, whose race shall-not-be-named, run a red light at high speed in a busy intersection. I thought I was watching COPS. From my quick view, a profile would have made him a moron-of-interest and perhaps think twice about potentially killing a person in the crosswalk, or on a bike, or in a car.

It appears reasonable that blacks and whites should find themselves stopped by police with the same frequency, all things being equal. Each has the same set of rights and responsibilities as citizen to obey the law, along with the same presumption of innocence with respect to that law.

The problem, of course, is that not all things are, in fact, equal. I profile people constantly, ever since I got my unequal butt-whipped in the sixth grade. If blacks find themselves outside of the confines of the law, whether the infractions are small or large, should they be surprised that they are stopped , admonished or arrested, and incarcerated in higher numbers?

The real question is if the police have a responsibility to ignore data showing higher levels of lawlessness, simply because it offends group sensibilities? Forget presumption. Can officers, white or black, ignore this data even when ordered or trained too, especially when it might increase their chances of injury or death in the performance of their duty? I do not think so.

This is the dilemma we face when it comes to racial profiling, culture, education, economics and stereotypes. A combination of real factors driving disparities of behaviors is distilled down to aid quick life and death decisions, in the officer’s mind, as to whether to engage someone or not, and what posture to take. There is not much time to ‘puzzy-foot around’ when the routine stuff is what gets you killed. We live in tough times.

Somewhere between my father and Richard Pryor, I learned how to engage an officer’s approach. Dad said to speak respectfully and do as you are instructed. Pryor said, make no sudden moves if you don’t want to be a mother f***ing accident. I follow both, and instruct my kids as well. In fact, the closest I have ever come to police brutality was at the hands of a black officer who took umbrage at my black-on-black wit.

Anyway, when I see the way free people dress - like prison inmates. How they tattoo themselves with all manner of aggression; the gansta-rap and speak that rules their tongues; the menacing looks that can and will kill. I say, who in their right mind would ever want to be in law enforcement? Then I say, police yourselves yes, but do not stop policing us. Dad and sir Richard, keeping it very real.

James C. Collier


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Anonymous said...

"The real question is if the police have a responsibility to ignore data showing higher levels of lawlessness, simply because it offends group sensibilities?"

The real question is where are you getting that "data" of which you speak? How hard is it to make the data say more Blacks commit crimes wen you intentionally send more police into Black areas than you do white areas, which will naturally result in more police activity involving Blacks. How hard is it to make the data say that when whites have historically and openly ben given much much pore preferential treatment by the "justice" system? Why would you trust data that comes from so obviously skewed practices?

I've been a police officer, so I know from whence I speak. Police are not that often in "life or death" decision mode. Usually when they are, it's because they have made a tactical error and put themselves in a position to have to kill or be killed.

Don't believe that your charmed life experiences with police are indicative of the norm. Both your father and Richard give good advice, and we certainly need law enforcement, but the fact remains that the criminal justice system is f***ed up. From the basement (police) to the penthouse (judges and lawmakers) it is rotten to the core.

James C. Collier said...

I am simply acknowledging that for a host of reasons, internal and external, blacks commit a disproportion of crimes, hence attracting the attention of police. I am not ignoring the factors that lead to the disparity, including racism, but rather that the police are the last, albeit imperfect, line of defense. I agree that the justice system has faults as well, but these mainly stem from being out maneuvered by cultures of lawlessness. In general, crime data can always be reduced to chicken-or-egg arguments, but in my world Oakland's country leading homicide rate is blacks killing other blacks. Psychologists may argue, but racism is not pulling those triggers. Appreciated...

Anonymous said...

I do understand and appreciate your frustration with Black on Black crime. I agree that something must be done. I think I could make a pretty reasoned argument that racism is pulling those triggers, but not here and now.

I have a bit of a problem whenever discussion about other peoples misconduct immediately digresses into a examination of how we are doing it to ourselves. The problems with police and the rest of the CJ system need to be addressed, without turning the conversation around on anyone else.

JustMeWriting said...

Wow! I can surely say I feel out of place here, with the two of you being in the 'system' to some respect, but this page has become one of my favorite places to visit. I can say I fully agree with both points made by you both, but especially the issue of trusting the information MADE available to us.

In regard to today's police...well, it's become a huge blured question mark (at least here in philly). I look at the lack of PROPER trainer and SCREENING done to SELECT adequite enforcers of the's just a quota to be filled, so again, like e.m.'a above admonishment of proper procedure leading to the dangers of policing the streets.

At the end of the day,much as my begining, I'm forced to again quote Sir Thurgood Marshall: "Lawlessness is lawlessness. Anarchy is anarchy is anarchy. Neither race nor color nor frustration is an excuse for either lawlessness or anarchy."

thanks for sharing.

Dangerfield said...

" Neither race nor color nor frustration is an excuse for either lawlessness or anarchy.""

mark bey: I agree with this statement 100% especially when you factor in the fact that most of the crime committed against black people is by black people.

Unless we do something about the crime in black america I see very little hope for us as a group, individuals will progress and do thier thing but not the whole of us.

But at the same time neanderthal treatment by the police and justice system in america of the entire black population is mainly responsible for this type of behavior on the part of the black community.

Simply put black people do not trust the police because of the historic and long record thier abuse against the black community.

When police officers all throughout the south after the civil war up until the sixties passed black people in thier charge into the hands of lynchers and murdurers the seeds of distrust of the entire justice system was planted in the minds of most black people.

Also when police through out northern ghettos abused black folk this seed of mistrust was planted.

Lastly unfair laws such as harsher sentencing for crack as opposed to cocaine continue to fertilize the seeds of distrust.

Now I am absolutely no apologist for crime hurting the black community especially when so many of us claim that the police and the system is out to get us . But it is a fact that black men have been sentenced to thousands of more years of imprisonmen t based solely on the harsher sentencing of crack vs coke, enough is enough. These laws in particular must be changed and Im not making excuses for black people sellng crack but fair is fair.

I dont believe that all of black people in jail currently have been unfairly imprisoned or sentenced to jail but thier is no logical reason why black folk either selling or using crack who are caught are sentenced to more time than white people doing the same with cocaine when they are the same drug but in a different form.

Finally non of what I said is an excuse for anyone to kill or committ crimes against the black community and these retarded notions of "no snitching" which keep our nieghborhood's forever run down and dangerous to our kids must go quick fast and in a hurry.

It is time for black folk to realize and accept the overwhelming fact that inspite of the past abuses by the police and the justice system, inspite of the current abuses of the justice system the police are a million times more helpful to the hood than the criminals and drug dealers.

Also it is a fact that the drug dealers are responsible for way more killings and destruction in our lives than the police not even close. Also on a personal note their have been women in my family whos's lives have been saved by the police comming and physically stopping them from bieng beaten to death by thier partners. This culture of allowing criminals to exist in our communities must go if we want to progress in my oppinion.

Until we respect ourselves I dont think we should expect police or anyone else to respect us. Until we develop self love and respect I think people should get used to all of these negative trends that are affecting us at much higher rates than all others. It is this simple until we respect ourselves others will contiue to disrespect us.

Anonymous said...

mark you know I love you, but there is one little bitty problem with "until we respect ourselves others will continue to disrespect us." It assumes that those others ever respected us in the first place or worse, it assumes that the fact that a few Black people don't respect themselves or others explains or excuses how others treat us. Both of those assumptions would be incorrect.

I know we've been over this ground before, but it's very important for us to realize that enough of us already respect ourselves and the rest of the world enough to cover for the whole Black race. We are not deserving of anyone's disrespect. We respected ourselves when we were kings and queens in Africa, and still they called us savages and enslaved us. We respected ourselves throughout the institution of chattel slavery, and still they lynched us, raped us, bought and sold us, and told us we were less than human.

We respect ourselves today, despite the actions of a small group of us. And yet our respect for ourselves is not responded to in kind.

JustMeWriting said...

AMEN! LOL... I totally agree with all of the above Mr Mark, and it all comes down to Menticide...we've got a lot to undo, but we've GOT to start within our homes and our communities...we've got to be the 'powers' that be.

Dangerfield said...

" It assumes that those others ever respected us in the first place or worse, it assumes that the fact that a few Black people don't respect themselves or others explains or excuses how others treat us. Both of those assumptions would be incorrect."

mark bey: Exodus my statement does not assume anything. When we allow killings to happen around women and children and people will not do what it takes to remove dangerous folks from around all of our kids, mothers, daughters and sons that is form of disrespect in my book.

Thier comes a time on individual, family and community levels when idivuals must make decisions such as assisting the police to get criminals that threaten all of us off of the street. Even if white supremacy is responsible for all of our actions makes no difference to me my concern would be to get violent and dangerous criminals out of the community where they cannot harm anyone.

Whether or not white people ever have or ever will respect us we need to began the process of respecting and loving ourselves. Allowing dangerous criminals amongst children and single women strugling to raise those children is a most deadly form of disrespect to the entire black communty simply because it is not in the interest for our children to live and develop around these folks.

How can you say we respect ourselves when we allow murderers and other criminals around our kids all you are doing is creating more criminals.

Anyway if you want to blame all of this on white supremacy that is fine, but the fact is we are going to have to do things differently if we want to get different results.

" We respect ourselves today, despite the actions of a small group of us. And yet our respect for ourselves is not responded to in kind. "

mark bey: If we truly respected ourselves the way we need to in order to foster the change I believe is necessary we wouldnt spend all of our money on the "mans" products, the businesses we do have would give supperior service and the black people would treat those business owners and the busisness with the utmost respect. But from what I have seen that aint the case we treat each horribly now if you want to blame white supremacy thats fine. But simply defining white supremacy as the problem responsible for all of the sensless things that happen in our community will not protect our kids and family from those senseless things (crimes).

Now let me be more specific if black people allow children to be murdured in our communities and most folks wont tell the police who just killed a child under these circumstances the police may and sometimes do committ crimes and murder against unarmed black people. It aint right, we should fight it but it is what it is. If a man is not around to protect his family certain folks in the community will take advantage of that. Its not right but it is what happens when people show such enormous disregard for themselves and their families. It dosent excuse any abuses by the police but it is reality. If you dont think so think about the school yard and who got picked on, those who would not stand up and protect themselves.

I appreciate the love and it is reciprocated even if I disagree with all or part of your argument. peace

Dangerfield said...

" we've got a lot to undo, but we've GOT to start within our homes and our communities...we've got to be the 'powers' that be."

Mark bey: I agree with these statement totally. But I would argue that motivation to began this process will start with and be sustained by a healthy love and respect for ourselves as individuals and a community. To pull this off we are going to have to love our nieghbors and to love your nieghbor you respect him, to respect someone else you have to respect yourslelf.

Alls Im saying is if people see that you will allow any old thing to be done to you they will do any old thing to you. I have found that even decent folks will take advantage of you if you let them. So it aint right but I expect corupt and immoral cops to abuse black people simply because they probably believe that they can get away with it just seems to me a lot of different people and orginizations think they can get away with hurting or killing black people.

Lastly to undo all of the garbage we need to that will deffinately take a change in the way we are doing things.

they can get away with doing harmful things to black people.

James Burnett said...

Good post, and deep comments. I enjoyed both. I've read your blog before, but forgot the address. Glad I found it again.

Dangerfield said...

" We respect ourselves today, despite the actions of a small group of us. And yet our respect for ourselves is not responded to in kind."

mark bey: Look Exodus the jails are packed is it your argument that most of those people are innocent. Because it is also a fact that a lot of people who should be in jail arent because once again people dont come forward and folks who were supposed to testify dont. Of course a lot of these are legitimate fears for thier lives and families do to reprisals of thugs and criminals. Also in my neigborhood I see a lot of open air crime that dosent get punished by the law or reported by citizens. Whether or not its a small percentage of us actually committing crime is not relevant to me, what is relevant is the fact that I see more open air, crime and degredation in our communitieis than others. I see enough to affect all of us negatively for instance all of my immediate family have had incidents of having a gun pulled on them or haved bieng robbed.

In my neigborhood the young adults and kids were smoking weed in plain view of children playing after school. They at least could have gone in the alley smoked thier joints thats all Im saying. I dont endorse but at least be discreet about sense it is illegal. Now I aint saying smoking weed in public is the biggest or pressing need of black people but it is a fact that a lot of black people are in jail for that very reason of smoking weed in public, that should never happen.

Whether or not it is very small percentage of black people committing crime does not change the fact that black men are six times as likely to be murdured as white men, and several times as likely to be incarcerated.
The fact is that murder and specifically black on black murder is having a devestating affect on the entire black populaion.

Your response to everything I have mentioned might be white supremacy is the cause of all of these problems I have mentioned. Ok lets say for sake of argument that is true.

Knowing that will not stop black men from killing other. Nor will it help our economic situatiion nor will it give a young black man lively withoout a fahter a mentor to guide him through the right passage. What actions do we take to change these things specifically as it relates to police violence what do we do to stop the police from killing unoffending and black men. What do we do to keep young black boys comming of age now far away from the justice system that is the real question. White supremacy will with us for the shot time bieng some of our conditions are unacceptable right now and must be changed for the good of the black world.

We are going to half to make a supreme effort to keep young black men out of jail otherwise the cycle is just repeating itself. This takes action not calls of racism, thier no reason why we cant study and fight racism while at the same time identifying negatives trends amongst ourselves to be changed.

JustMeWriting said...

I am so loving this commentary. Mark, I must have shouted YES like to every I TOTALLY agree with the lack of self-respect black people have shown.

There's a guy named Butch Slaughter from Philly, who wrote a book called "Why Our Children Hate Us"{How Black Adults have Betrayed Black Children} I've only gotten my hands on the book long enough to read a few pages, but it's really something to behold.

Through my search for the book, I was lead to Mr Slaugther's site I know the title may be alarming, but PLEASE check out the site...I'd love to hear what you guys think.

Here's a really good (well to me) quote from the page:
"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line."
WEB DuBois

“The problem of the twenty-first century is the problem of the nigga line. Black people must draw that line.”
Butch Slaughter

plez... said...

OUCH! the truth hurts! really does!

i've teetered on the fence of this issue for quite some time, but this blog entry goes a long way to solidifying my stance on it. my next door neighbor is a cop, i will not divulge his area of concentration here, but suffice it to say, he has stressed the importance of being able to adequately profile and assess a situation in mere seconds before deciding how to act. it may hurt to know that a preponderance of the crime (especially in Black areas) is performed by Black people. when one goes to "central booking" as i have had the indignity of visiting on one occassion (snicker), a preponderance of the occupants were Black men (i'd say no less than 95%). it looked like what you (each person reading this comment) would think a jail would look like: mainly Black men, obviously undereducated, obviously under- or unemployed, the sagging pants, the gold capped teeth, the tattoos of every variety and shape, the long unkempt dreadlocks, smelly, unwashed, obvious drug use ... soemthing straight out of central casting for a crime drama!

therefore, it doesn't take a GREAT LEAP of logic to associate certain people (namely, Black men) with certain types of crime. cops (white & Black) want to go home to their families every night, and to my way of thinking, it is better to err on the side of caution and profile, rather than belie your instincts and risk taking a bullet "to the dome" from some crackhead, because he was Black!

like i once told a White lady who was a co-worker of mine (while we discussed the social ramifications of the OJ verdict): if all i knew about Black people was what i saw on the nightly news, i would be scared of us, too!