Blue Trumps Black and White

A former RNC chair says a black man's life isn't worth a ham sandwich.

police-patches

Former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele is dismayed by the non-indictment of the cops who killed Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

The Hill (“Former RNC chairman: ‘Black man’s life not worth a ham sandwich’“):

Former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele on Wednesday criticized grand jury decisions to not indict white police officers in the deaths of black men in New York and Ferguson, Mo.

“They tell us, at least, a prosecutor can indict a ham sandwich. Well clearly a black man’s life is not worth a ham sandwich when you put these stories together. And that is the frustration,” Steele said on MSNBC.

Earlier in the day, a Staten Island grand jury declined to indict a New York police officer in the choking death of Eric Garner over the summer. Video captured by a bystander showed police holding down Garner, with one officer putting his arm around the asthmatic man’s neck.

“While the death of Eric Garner was tragic, all New Yorkers should respect the decision of the Staten Island grand jury not to indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said.

“During this tense time in New York, it must be noted and remembered that no organization has done more to safeguard the lives of young African Americans in New York City than the NYPD,” he added.

Steele agreed with King’s remarks but said the newest case continued a narrative from another grand jury’s decision last week not to indict a white police officer in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, a decision that sparked protests across the country.

“I think this is part of the same narrative, it’s the same linear story as far as I’m concerned,” Steele said.

“We very much appreciate the protections and the role police play in our communities,” Steele continued, but said clear boundaries have emerged over the past couple of years.

“The facts and the evidence all put into the proper context begs that this at least gets to a jury of the individual’s peers so that we as a community can go through this process, begin the healing and begin to take, I guess, a more open look at our criminal justice system.”

While the outcomes of the Brown and Garner cases may well have been different had they been white, the key issue is not their race but that their killers were police officers.

It’s simply beyond question that police treat black men differently than they do white men in similar circumstances. Minor white criminals would almost certainly have been treated differently. And white victims generate more sympathy and outrage than black victims among both prosecutors and jury pools. We have decades of anecdotal and scientific studies on both counts. So, yes, race is a major factor in these stories.

But Steele—for whom I have far more respect than I do King—vastly overstates the case here. Those who kill black men are indicted all the time. Even if the killer is white. The reason that the killers in these two cases weren’t charged is not that they were white and their victims were black but because the killers were police officers on duty and overwhelming sentiment on jury pools mirrors King’s.

As with the military, the public has extreme deference for the police. In both cases, they put their lives on the line on a daily basis to protect the rest of us. In both cases, they’re allowed to kill to achieve that end. And, when some cross the line and kill people they shouldn’t have, even in direct violation of their training, there is extreme reluctance to punish them because of the aforementioned deference. The average citizen can’t imagine putting himself in harm’s way and can imagine overreacting under the stress of a confrontation. That soldiers and cops are specially selected and trained not to do that—and assume the responsibility to risk their own lives to protect innocents as a professional obligation—gets lost in the equation because, essentially, the citizenry feels guilty about holding them to account.

In the wake of the non-indictment in the Garner case, Dan McLaughlin tweeted, “As my NYPD dad always said, NYPD is 25,000 of the best men you’ll ever meet, but there’s 35,000 cops.” I don’t know whether the numbers are right but the sentiment certainly is.

The big city police departments, particularly NYPD and LAPD, are among the finest law enforcement organizations in existence. They pay well and can therefore be highly selective in screening applicants, whom they then train at outstanding academies and put under the supervision of seasoned professionals. They wash out those who can’t cut the mustard in the early going.  (Smaller police departments are much more likely to be populated by poorly trained soldier wannabes.) Even so, a significant number of bullies, cowards, racists, and thugs make it through. Some are good guys turned bad by the stresses of the job. And there’s a natural tendency for cops to see themselves as “us” and the entire citizenry—and certainly, young black males—as “them.”

Beyond that, as many have noted in recent weeks, there’s a symbiotic relationship between police and prosecutors that makes punishing the bad apples difficult. The police themselves naturally rally around their own under all but the most egregious of circumstances. And prosecutors are extremely reluctant to alienate the good cops—whose help they need on a daily basis to do their job—in order to go after the bad ones. Further, prosecutors are likely to see themselves as members of the same “team” as the police and are naturally going to sympathize with cops who make a mistake that results in the death of civilian—especially one who’s a criminal.

This is a depressing situation because it’s not easily fixable. Some have suggested all cases where police kill citizens be turned over to federal authorities to lessen the conflict of interest. I don’t know that there’s a Constitutional basis for doing so but am sympathetic to the idea. But the grand and petit jury pools would still be comprised of local citizens. Police officers are almost always going to be harder to prosecute than ordinary citizens absent a vast change to to the culture.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. superdestroyer says:

    I think people forget that if politicians make life too hard on law enforcement (citizen oversight boards, constant second guess, constant criminal investigation), the law enforcement can always make life more unpleasant over citizens (slow response times, perfunctory investigation, ignoring criminal behavior). Many people are calling for the putting law enforcement on a very short leash without contemplating the possible effects from such oversight.

    If the police stop answering 911 calls and stop investigating crimes, does anyone really believe that the crime rate will not go up?

  2. John Peabody says:

    The headline of the post made me think that a random Republican thought a black man was worth less than a sandwich. This is not the actual opinion of Mr. Steele, I was relieved to read on.

  3. Tony W says:

    @superdestroyer: Um, yeah – I think that’s Doug’s whole point. We are deferential to the police because they ostensibly protect us, and we tend to give them the benefit of the doubt.

    I do think some sort of state oversight of local PDs/Sheriffs and federal oversight of state police seems quite reasonable. No idea how the constitutionality or mechanics of such a scheme work out but it’s probably time to figure that out.

  4. superdestroyer says:

    @Tony W:

    It is just not the constitutionality but also the impact of the police of being under intense scrutiny. If the only way to avoid trouble is to avoid doing anything, then that is what will occur. I assume that many on the left would prefer a government policy of no snitching/disconnect 911/eliminate law enforcement. But I doubt if many on the left of the long term impacts of such policies.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    But Steele—for whom I have far more respect than I do King

    Me too, and I have zero respect for Steele.

    I always have a mental picture of the RNC sitting around after 2008 like Gov Pappy O’Daniel and his staff in Oh Brother Where Art Thou.
    -Pappy, folks sure do like that black guy, maybe we oughta get us a black guy.
    -Idiot! We’re the Republicans!
    -Oh wait, isn’t there that one guy, Steele?

    But apparently Garner is a bridge too far for Steele.

  6. KM says:

    @superdestroyer:

    If the only way to avoid trouble is to avoid doing anything, then that is what will occur.

    If the police stop answering 911 calls and stop investigating crimes,

    Do you know what that is? That’s called tyranny, intimidation, rule by fear. The mafia used to refer to it as “protection”. If they’re holding the job they are being paid to do over our heads like they are doing us a damn favor and we might “get hurt” if they don’t’ cooperate, then fire the lot of them and get someone who’s willing to do the honest work they are legally contracted for.

    Imagine if a firefighter stood there and told you they’ll let your house burn down because they might not answer your 911 due to “possible effects from such oversight”. Imagine if a doctor casually told you they’d let you die on the table if the surgeon was subjected to “possible effects from such oversight”. You’d never tolerate that. Why in god’s name should we tolerate that from the police?

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I think people forget that if politicians make life too hard on law enforcement (citizen oversight boards, constant second guess, constant criminal investigation), the law enforcement can always make life more unpleasant over citizens

    You mean like killing unarmed citizens using moves that were made illegal due their ability to cause injury or death?

    Yeah, we wouldn’t want to hold police accountable if something like that might happen.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @KM: It’s also McConnell’s political plan. A protection racket. Hold the government hostage unless we turn it over to them. If we don’t elect a Dem Prez and Senate majority in ’16 it will have worked.

    @superdestroyer: That’s your plan? Allow the cops free rein to harass blacks in the hope they’ll protect the rest of us? Rhetorical question.

  9. C. Clavin says:

    In the late 1800’s a Hawaiian Sugar Plantation owner had a problem with rats. So he brought in some mongooses to take care of it. Now Hawaii has a huge mongoose problem.

    This deference to police is part of the same mentality that leads us to Defense Spending that is 4 times as much as our nearest competitor. No one has the balls to stand up and say no to either the cops or the military.

    Look at Superdoopers comments…he’s so scared $hitless by the cops that he’s afraid to even question them… because, OMG, what happens if you do? To me that is the very heart of the problem here.

    Hint: If you are going to call yourself SuperDestroyer you should probably grow a pair first.

  10. Anonne says:

    Beyond that, as many have noted in recent weeks, there’s a symbiotic relationship between police and prosecutors that makes punishing the bad apples difficult.

    The problem is so-called good apples covering for bad apples. Why? You’d think they would want them rooted out, but no. The rot goes deep.

  11. Apparently a prosecutor can indict a hand samwhich, but not a pig.

  12. DC Loser says:

    If cops can’t handle the attention caused by their ineptitude, stupidity and criminality, then they should all resign and no longer be in law enforcement. What part of “serve” and protect don’t they get?

  13. superdestroyer says:

    @DC Loser:

    so you are willing to live without a police department. Or are you willing to have law enforcement that does nothing more that fill out forms after crimes have been committed and help people with insurance claims. Look at how progressives want a policy that says that if someone resist the police, then the police should just let them go.

    What is amazing is people have forgotten how bad crime was in the late 1970’s and seem determined to go back to that time period.

  14. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Look at how progressives want a policy that says that if someone resist the police, then the police should just let them go.

    Jesus-gawd you are full of shit.

  15. stonetools says:

    @superdestroyer:

    so you are willing to live without a police department

    Nonsense, we want police departments that police, not oppress.It reflects on you that you don’t know the difference.

  16. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I think people forget that if politicians make life too hard on law enforcement (citizen oversight boards, constant second guess, constant criminal investigation), the law enforcement can always make life more unpleasant over citizens (slow response times, perfunctory investigation, ignoring criminal behavior).

    Hey, nice little city ya got here. Be a real shame if sumptin’ were ta happen ta it….

  17. PD Shaw says:

    The reason that the killers in these two cases weren’t charged is not that they were white and their victims were black but because the killers were police officers on duty and overwhelming sentiment on jury pools mirrors King’s.

    Maybe, but the root reason is that killings in the line of duty are judged on entirely different legal standards than other crimes, through complex rules of justification. The grand jury is asked to investigate whether a crime even exists, not judge whether the suspect fingered by the prosecutor committed the crime.

    The more practical issue is that both of these situations appear to be problems of escalation.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    I assume that many on the left would prefer a government policy of no snitching/disconnect 911/eliminate law enforcement.

    What a hot steaming pile of horse$hit…who on the left has voiced any preference for these things? Or perhaps your delusional mind is working too hard once again…

    What is amazing is people have forgotten how bad crime was in the late 1970’s and seem determined to go back to that time period.

    No, what is amazing is that some people seem to be so afraid of criminals that they want to allow police officers to get away with criminal acts, including murder, just so that they can feel a little bit safer…

  19. superdestroyer says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Do I really need to link to all of the wonks and pundits who have written this recently. That police should not pursue and should let individuals who resist just get away. Supposedly they can always arrest them later.

  20. stonetools says:

    But the grand and petit jury pools would still be comprised of local citizens. Police

    James, you can charge police officers by criminal information and try police officers by judge, or by juries drawn from pools outside of a local jurisdiction, if needed. May be that is what’s needed.

    As to why there was a failure to indict,a New Yorker writer says:

    As a matter of process, the route to the failure to indict is probably simple: the prosecutor who presented the case led the grand jurors that way. That’s how grand juries tend to work (and why criticisms of the outcome should not be taken as an attack on individual jurors); the bar for them to find probable cause to charge a person is low, unless—as transcripts show was the case in Ferguson—prosecutors decide to raise it.

    The failure to indict is chiefly a prosecutor problem, not a juror problem.

  21. superdestroyer says:

    @An Interested Party:

    Do I really need to link to all of the photographs of the “No Snitchin” that was grafitted in Ferguson. Do I really need to link to the Stop Snitching video made in Baltimore. Do I really need to look up the low closure rates for homicides in majority black communities.

    Progressives have been on a steady push to empower criminals while ham-stringing law enforcement. That progressives cannot even think about the long term impacts of their policy proposals but immediately resort to insults and taunts shows what the future of the U.S. looks like.

    Is a future without effective law enforcement sustainable in the U.S.?

  22. stonetools says:

    @superdestroyer:

    That police should not pursue and should let individuals who resist just get away. Supposedly they can always arrest them later.

    I know for a fact that the police routinely pursue and capture suspects without killing them.So wrong again, Bob.

  23. PD Shaw says:

    Some have suggested all cases where police kill citizens be turned over to federal authorities to lessen the conflict of interest.

    In Illinois, state law enforcement is automatically tasked with investigating killings by local cops. I think Wisconsin might be the same.

  24. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do I really need to link to all of the wonks and pundits who have written this recently.

    Sure…have at it.

  25. C. Clavin says:

    Rand Paul proves he’s about as smart as superdooper:

    Well you know I think it’s hard not to watch that video of him saying ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’ and not be horrified by it. But I think there’s something bigger than the individual circumstances. Obviously, the individual circumstances are important. But I think it is also important to know that some politician put a tax of $5.85 on a pack of cigarettes so that driven cigarettes underground by making them so expensive. But then some politician also had to direct the police to say, ‘hey we want you arresting people for selling a loose cigarette.’ And for someone to die over breaking that law, there really is no excuse for it. But I do blame the politicians. We put our police in a difficult situation with bad laws.

  26. stonetools says:

    Blue Trumps Black and White

    Adam Serwer responds:

    This has something to do with the way police see things. Police are people, after all, subject to the same flaws and vices as the rest of us. America’s police departments tend to be whiter than the general population, and nearly half of whites believe “many” or “almost all” black men are violent. Whites overestimate the amount of crime, in particular violent crime, involving blacks. Whites are also more likely to ascribe supernatural physical abilities to black people, in particular the ability to resist physical pain, a stereotype that harkens back to slavery. Black children like Tamir Rice are “more likely to be mistaken as older, be perceived as guilty and face police violence if accused of a crime.”

    “Reasonable,” of course, is a subjective standard — even as a legal definition. Civil society decides what “reasonable” means, and when citizens make that decision, they almost always side with the police, even when the deceased is white. But when society weighs whether the deaths of black men at the hands of police are reasonable, it does so with the additional burden of American beliefs about black criminality, black superstrength, black dangerousness. On the other side are our collective beliefs about police, seen as more noble, more selfless, and more resistant to all-too-human flaws like wrath or deceit.

    Small wonder, then, that the scales of justice are so often unbalanced.

  27. Rafer Janders says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do I really need to link to all of the wonks and pundits who have written this recently.

    Yes, I’m afraid you do. You don’t, after all, really have a reputation for honesty.

  28. Hal_10000 says:

    @C. Clavin:

    I think Paul is missing the big picture, but he does scrape an important point: basically, everyone in this country has probably committed a crime. We have invented entire categories of BS crimes that lands thousands of people in prison and put them in harm’s way when the people we authorize to use lethal force interact with them. Moreover, as in this case, it allows the police to come out with post facto “justifications” for their actions. This “he was dealing illegal cigarettes” theme came about after the shooting, as though it justified it. After Akai Gurley was shot, his arrest record was touted as though it were relevant. After Patrick Dorismund was killed, Mayor 9/11 said he was “no altar boy” because of his juvenile arrest record.

    The more idiot laws you create, the more interactions you create between cops and citizens and the more potential there is for lethal force. And the more excuses it creates for when they do something vile. Because almost everyone is a criminal at some point.

  29. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin: Mmm, Paul’s argument actually has some truth to it (namely that high taxes cause black markets) even if it is almost completely irrelevant to what this story is about. I’m still trying to find some sort of truth in superdestroyer’s posts. Apparently he’s not under the impression that the job of police is to protect and serve.

  30. JohnMcC says:

    If Mr Garner or Mr Brown had been more compliant, more instantly obedient and respectful, probably they would have lived through their encounters with police. But we did not come through the history of America in order to have a country where humility and obedience and compliance with law enforcement is part of the necessary behaviors to survive contact with police.

    The police deserve as much respect as they give. No more. Any extra obsequiousness is given out of fear. Fear of authority figures in not what America is supposed to be about.

  31. JohnMcC says:

    @Tony W: Not one of Doug Mataconis’ entries; the grammar and spelling should be a clue.

  32. KM says:

    @Franklin :

    Apparently he’s not under the impression that the job of police is to protect and serve.

    No, he seems to think we’re all the lowly serfs that must respect the brave knights that protect the kingdom, even if those knights happen to be rampaging through the village. Or maybe that since life is so damn tough for our voluntary paid police force, we should just accept a little unreasonable oppression and murder so they can feel secure in their jobs, lives and masculinity.

    What’s truly depressing is there are millions more out there like him. It’s how we got to where we are in the first place.

  33. KM says:

    @JohnMcC:

    If Mr Garner or Mr Brown had been more compliant, more instantly obedient and respectful,

    Unreal. Absolutely unreal. Garner was doing nothing wrong!

    Tell you what: if an random armed man comes up to you, demands you comply with him, threatens you when you have done nothing wrong and have every right to be where you are, attacks you and has his friends pile on even when you can’t breathe….. you should just take it, meek and mild. Go on, do it. Because they said so. Screw your rights as an American and a human being – the man with the gun and shiny authority pin says bow down or else violence will happen.

    Victim blaming at its finest. They want my respect? Earn it! Act like they deserve it, not because of a damn badge!

  34. Jack says:

    The problem as I see it is the idea that police believe all interactions they initiate must result in the target being fully compliant to the point of licking the police officer’s boots if that’s what the officer wants. When you treat all interactions with the general populace as if they are lower life forms to be commanded, some people within that populace will reasonably take offence.

    Officers are trained to “take command” of all interactions, and therefore even the slightest resistance by a suspect/target of investigation is met with a ramping up of force by the police. Merely knowing your rights and asserting them is deemed “interference” or “obstruction”. Police don’t recognize that they, like politicians, and like clerks at the DMV are public servants.

    Batons and Tasers are supposed to be “less than lethal” tools, but police have come to know and love them as “pain compliance” tools. Don’t kowtow fast enough, in the police officer’s mind, a little pain compliance is well deserved.

    Unless and until the populace says “ENOUGH”. Police will continue to do what they are trained to do and what the populace has allowed them to do–treat all non cops like “others” in every interaction–to be beaten, tased, demoralized, and sub-humanized until they decide differently.

  35. C. Clavin says:

    @Hal_10000:
    @Franklin:
    Yeah…sure.
    But plenty of people have interactions with the police every day and don’t end up dead.
    If you follow Paul’s argument to it’s logical end then there are no laws and no taxes.
    Again…Libertarianism withers and dies at the slightest exposure to reality.

  36. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do I really need to link to all of the wonks and pundits who have written this recently.

    Crickets.

  37. EddieInCA says:

    @Jack:

    Unless and until the populace Conservatives say “ENOUGH”. Police will continue to do what they are trained to do and what the populace has allowed them to do–treat all non cops Brown and Black citizens like “others” “sub-human animals” in every interaction–to be beaten, tased, demoralized, and sub-humanized killed until they decide differently submit completely.

    Fixed that For You.

    You’re welcome.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    @superdestroyer: I’d rather have a police force that didn’t have a knee-jerk reaction towards fatal action whenever anyone does anything aside from total instantaneous abjection.

  39. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: Jack, for once you’ve posted something I’m 100% behind. Damn straight.

  40. stonetools says:

    Mississippi attorney Anderson has a post on the problem of prosecuting police misconduct. He suggests:

    •The easiest measure might be to require appointment of a special prosecutor in cases alleging misconduct by a police officer. District attorneys work too closely with their local police, and whether or not it’s a formal “conflict of interest,” it amounts to one. Of course this measure is only as good as the appointed prosecutor.
    •The criminal equivalent to 42 USC 1983 is 18 USC 242, but as Vox points out, it requires proof of intentional misconduct – not necessarily a stretch in the Garner case, but it would be easier if the statute covered reckless indifference as well. That amendment (which has no chance in the GOP Congress) might help.
    •The use of grand juries to “investigate” sure seems to pop up mainly when the target is a cop. How could this practice be either curbed or, arguably, expanded so that exculpatory evidence is presented in all cases, so that cops aren’t the obvious beneficiaries of special treatment?

  41. Jack says:

    @EddieInCA: As has been shown, brown and black people are not the only ones being killed/tased/beaten/mistreated by cops.

    Nothing needed fixed. It was correct as written.

  42. humanoid.panda says:

    @Franklin:

    Apparently he’s not under the impression that the job of police is to protect and serve.

    He, and, a significant minority of Americans, think that the job’s police is to serve and protect *him*, and that the way to do it is to make sure that *they* remember their place.

  43. al-Ameda says:

    @superdestroyer:

    I think people forget that if politicians make life too hard on law enforcement (citizen oversight boards, constant second guess, constant criminal investigation), the law enforcement can always make life more unpleasant over citizens (slow response times, perfunctory investigation, ignoring criminal behavior). Many people are calling for the putting law enforcement on a very short leash without contemplating the possible effects from such oversight.

    Exactly. Who doesn’t want the police to exercise deadly force is all circumstances? *snark*

    If a “short leash” means that a police officer could find himself facing criminal charges if he uses deadly force where it does not seem to have been ‘reasonable’ to do so – then count me in as supporting a short leash.

  44. C. Clavin says:

    @grumpy realist:
    Makes you frightened, doesn’t it?

  45. Jack says:

    @C. Clavin: @grumpy realist: I’ve been trying to steer everyone this direction for years. The cases are now becoming headlines and getting the attention they deserve.

    Our police forces have gone from Peace Officers to Law Enforcement and along the way have been put in the untenable position of revenuers of old. Their primary job isn’t to fight crime and maintain the peace, it’s to raise money for the state/local/Federal coffers–thus the rise of civil asset forfeiture…taking people’s stuff without having to prove them guilty of a crime.

    This is not a color problem…unless your color is blue.

  46. michael reynolds says:

    Challenged to back up his statements, Superdestroyer first tries a bluff and then disappears.

    Something we should all remember going forward with this clown.

  47. stonetools says:

    Just ridiculous.

    25 Activities Black People Should Avoid Around Cops

    I’m a black mom trying to navigate this world and to figure out how to raise my kids in what can be a very hostile environment,” she told Intelligencer. The series of more than two dozen messages was meant to highlight the absurdity of critics who say black people are safe if they just “don’t do” things that make them look suspicious, Oluo says. She was particularly struck by how many of the men involved in these incidents were teenagers, like her older son. But even more difficult, she says, is talking about these incidents with her younger child. “He’s already worried about bad guys like every other 7-year-old,” Oluo says. “I don’t want him worried about the cops.”

    Below are Oluo’s Tweets, linked to the incidents they mention:

    Don’t play in the park with toy guns and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t ask for help after a car accident and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t wear a hoodie and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t cosplay with a toy sword and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t shop at Walmart and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t take the BART and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t ride your bike and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t reach for your cell phone and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t go to your friend’s birthday party and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t sit on your front stoop and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t “startle” them and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t “look around suspiciously” and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t walk on a bridge with your family and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t play “cops and robbers” with your buddies and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t work in a warehouse repairing instruments and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t stand in your grandma’s bathroom and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t pray with your daughters in public and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t go to your bachelor party and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t have an ex boyfriend who might be a suspect and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t call for medical help for your sister and maybe they won’t kill her.
    Don’t hang out in the park with your friends and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t get a flat tire and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t park in a fire lane and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t reach for your wallet and maybe they won’t kill you.
    Don’t let your medical alert device go off and maybe they won’t kill you.
    I’m done for today. My heart can’t handle any more.

    And you know what’s really ridiculous? She missed at least one:

    Don’t play music in a parking lot

    Edit: Actually that wasn’t police, but still…

  48. EddieInCA says:

    @Jack:

    Haha.

    Funny.

    Hundreds vs. Tens isn’t a fair equation. I know you’d like it to be, but it’s not.

    All the data involving criminal justics – Prison incarceration rates, drug arrests for the same crimes, death penalty convictions, unarmed men shot by police, traffic stops, stop and frisk, etc. etc – show a bias against black and brown people. The data is very, very clear. That you refuse to acknowledge such a fact doesn’t make it not true.

  49. C. Clavin says:

    @michael reynolds:
    There should be a mechanism for when someone pulls this.
    e.g….you aren’t allowed to comment again until you either back it up or admit you are full of merde.

  50. Jack says:
  51. Guarneri says:

    “The police aren’t here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”

    Former Chicago mayor Richard Daley.

  52. EddieInCA says:

    @Jack:

    Thank you for making my point for me.

    Let’s agree the facts in the FBI link you provide are correct.

    Why then are African Americans incarcerated at a rate more than six times that of whites?

    Racial Disparities in Incarceration

    African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population
    African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites
    Together, African American and Hispanics comprised 58% of all prisoners in 2008, even though African Americans and Hispanics make up approximately one quarter of the US population
    According to Unlocking America, if African American and Hispanics were incarcerated at the same rates of whites, today’s prison and jail populations would decline by approximately 50%
    One in six black men had been incarcerated as of 2010. If current trends continue, one in three black males born today can expect to spend time in prison during his lifetime
    Nationwide, African-Americans represent 26% of juvenile arrests, 44% of youth who are detained, 46% of the youth who are judicially waived to criminal court, and 58% of the youth admitted to state prisons (Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice).

    So why are 58% of all prisoners nationwide African American, if, by your own stats, they only commit 28.1% of all crimes?

  53. Jack says:

    @EddieInCA: First, thanks for not providing a link to your source data so I can see for myself the statistics you are bandying about.

    Second, as my link shows, based upon arrests for various crimes, the arrest rate is routinely around 60% white 35% black…so your contention that

    All the data involving criminal justics – Prison incarceration rates, drug arrests for the same crimes, death penalty convictions, unarmed men shot by police, traffic stops, stop and frisk, etc. etc – show a bias against black and brown people.

    is blatantly false.

    But let’s presume you are providing accurate statistics. In the words of Charles Barkley “we got a lot of crooks.” Mr. Barkley dared to point at the elephant in the room.

    Meanwhile, according to you Black and Brown people don’t commit crimes, US law is just racist.

  54. Jack says:

    To quote Radley Balko “The video demonstrated that the system is broken. The lack of an indictment stunned many people because the video seemed so compelling. Because the grand jury nevertheless declined to indict, those people must now grapple with the fact that either the grand jury system is broken or New York’s use of force laws allow for what we saw in that video. That is, either the grand jury improperly applied the law to clear a cop, or the law itself is terribly flawed.”

    The cop in question in the Garner case, Daniel Pantaleo, had twice been sued for violating a citizen’s constitutional rights. One lawsuit accused Pantaleo and other officers of illegally pulling over a car, falsely claiming to have found crack and forcing the car’s occupants to strip nude, squat, and cough. The city settled that lawsuit for $30,000. The other lawsuit is still pending. It accuses Pantaleo of misstating facts about a marijuana arrest in a case where there charges were later dismissed.

    Link to story: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-watch/wp/2014/12/04/some-thoughts-on-eric-garner/

  55. TheoNott says:

    I wasn’t sure what to think of the Michael Brown case, I thought the physical evidence supported the claim that Brown was a violent danger to Wilson. The non-indictment in this case, though, really saddens me. There is no way the officer could have reasonably believed that a chokehold was an acceptable level of force, when he was explicitly trained never to use it, precisely because the maneuver is so dangerous to the suspect. We have video evidence, the facts are not in dispute. Still, no indictment, because, as you said, Americans are deferential to cops, and this attitude has likely strengthened since 9/11. And yes, I don’t doubt that Garner being black subconsciously swayed the jurors a bit.

  56. Jack says:
  57. EddieInCA says:

    @Jack:

    That’s horseshit.

    I acknowledged that your FBI stats were/are correct.

    Google “Sentencing Disparity” or “incarceration rates”. It’s not hard to find. It’s not hidden. It’s a fact that Black and Brown people who commit the same crimes as whites are disproportionately charged, and receive longer sentences for the same offenses. That’s a fact.

    https://theuncovery.org/ Here’s one example. Blacks and White use Marijuana at equal rates per population. However, African-Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested and charged with Marijuana use. Why is that?

    The data is out there. That you choose to ignore it says more about you than anything else.

  58. gVOR08 says:

    @TheoNott: I mentioned in another thread that I happen to have been reading Nixonland lately. Perlstein talks a lot about the urban riots and peace protests of the 60s and police, court, and public reaction. This stuff goes back long before 9/11. If anything, it’s better now.

  59. Franklin says:

    @C. Clavin:

    If you follow Paul’s argument to it’s logical end then there are no laws and no taxes.

    OK, now you’ve gotten me defending Rand Paul of all people, because your argument here is so weak. In no way does his statement suggest that one take it to the “logical end” of no taxes. Not even the most die-hard libertarian believes in no taxes.

    The fact is, reasonable taxes don’t cause a black market. If you want to outlaw cigarettes altogether, be my guest. But since they are currently legal, most people would probably agree with me that a 1000% sales tax is not reasonable.

  60. Jack says:

    @EddieInCA:

    The data is out there. That you choose to ignore it says more about you than anything else. – See more at: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/blue-trumps-black-and-white/?#comment-1988850

    I didn’t choose anything other than to not be your research assistant. If you are going to claim something and quote stats, then provide a source.

    Here’s one example. Blacks and White use Marijuana at equal rates per population. However, African-Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested and charged with Marijuana use. Why is that? – See more at: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/blue-trumps-black-and-white/?#comment-1988850

    If you admit that the FBI statistics are true, then you will look to the “Drug abuse violations” line and see that of the total arrests in that category, whites are arrested for drugs 67% to 31% for blacks. So…horseshit is exactly what you are slinging with the “African-Americans are 3.73 times more likely to be arrested” line.

    Disproportionate is relative. If you are saying they are disproportionally arrested/charged compared to their percentage of the population, then yes as Blacks make up ~15% of the total population. But, based upon the population of people committing crimes, it’s unfair to say that Blacks are being arrested at a higher proportion than those committing the crimes. Arrests are made from the population committing the crimes–not the population as a total. My guess would be that there were more Blacks arrested after the Wilson verdict in Ferguson for looting and arson than there were whites…guess what? There were fewer whites looting and committing arson, so you cannot get relative numbers of Black and White arrestees.

    You sound like Holder–claiming that we need to change racially neutral school discipline programs because Blacks are being suspended/expelled at a greater rate than Whites. That’s a preposterous position. I would bet that Whites are being suspended/expelled at a far greater rate than Asians.

    Does that mean that race is the problem or that the crime is the problem?

    Again, the only consistent color in the current equation is Blue.

  61. C. Clavin says:

    @Franklin:
    I don’t want to force anyone to defend Paul…but you lost me with the 1000% tax.

  62. Tony W says:

    @JohnMcC: LOL -saw that right as I ran out of time to edit 🙂 Thanks !

  63. Tony W says:

    BTW: If it is not clear already, it should be now.

    Police have no interest in lowering crime rates – in fact it’s the opposite. I sat through many community meetings where the Community Liaison officer shows scary crime maps and statistics going back as far as needed to show that Bad Things Are Happening. He creates fear in my community so that his little mid-city station retains funding. His job is essentially to keep political pressure up to maintain and build funding levels for the police.

    See any parallels with the NRA here? Yeah, me too.

  64. C. Clavin says:

    @superdestroyer:

    Do I really need to link to all of the wonks and pundits who have written this recently.

    Crickets…still.

  65. Barry says:

    @PD Shaw: “The grand jury is asked to investigate whether a crime even exists, not judge whether the suspect fingered by the prosecutor committed the crime. ”

    As has been pointed out in other cases, a grand jury does what the prosecutor wants it to do, full stop. At the federal level, grand juries return indictments over 99.99% of the time. That’s an insane level of reliability.

  66. Jack says:

    NYPD Officer Philip LeRoy, who was named the ‘Cop of the Year’ at his precinct in Queens two years ago, was arrested for allegedly buying cocaine in Florida. The NY Post reported on Wednesday that LeRoy and two other men were busted just before midnight on Monday in Sunrise City, Florida, northwest of Ft. Lauderdale. According to the paper, the trio were buying 10 kilos of cocaine. LeRoy, the son of a former detective, had his off-duty gun on him at the time. LeRoy, 28, was charged with felony weapons possession, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy to traffic cocaine. Bail was set at $250,000. LeRoy has been suspended by the NYPD.

    I’m sure he’ll be convicted of something–like dispensing without a license before getting his badge and gun back.

  67. EddieInCA says:
  68. Jack says:

    @EddieInCA: And the media is eating up the “gun”, the MaryJ, and the pills. AZ is a no permit carry state. Anyone not a felon can own and carry a gun. The fact that the gun was left in the car doesn’t seem to matter. AZ also has medicinal MaryJ, and the small amount he had on him was not for distribution. Finally, the bottle of “pills” the cop mistook for a gun were likely prescribed to him…but let’s not let facts get in the way of a “Good Shoot” by those paid to serve and protect.

    Better story here: http://thefreethoughtproject.com/police-kill-unarmed-man-doorstep-brought-dinner-family/

  69. JohnMcC says:

    @KM: My friend, assume that Mr Garner or Mr Brown had dropped to their knees and begged for forgiveness for whatever meaningless infraction may have drawn police attention. They probably would have lived. But they would not have been living in the America we believe in.

    Those who refer to Mr Brown as a ‘thug’ and tout Mr Garner’s police record of minor, victimless crimes are saying that America is a nation that should fear police authority and that is fine with them.

    I disagree. In America we should not fear the authorities.

    I’m trying to use small words and simple sentences. This is to encourage you to read to the end of the post before becoming enraged at someone who agrees with you.

  70. PD Shaw says:

    @Barry: Federal prosecutors also have a 93% conviction rate. Why are these numbers so high, particularly when the burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Most criminal violations are easy to prove and have less moving parts. Prosecutors also burry cases they don’t believe they can win. The Ferguson case would have been a difficult case, which the prosecutor would have lost.

    But this all begs my point; the basis of prosecuting law enforcement officers acting in the line of duty is so different from everyone else, you can’t make simplistic comparisons. For instance, jurors are being asked whether the force used is “reasonable” under the circumstances. No normal crimes have such ambiguity and leniency in their considerations.

  71. Ben Wolf says:

    Calling super a coward and cursing him is unhelpful and incivil. The near total lack of moderation at OTB has resulted in a comments section that more resembles thunderdome than a discourse, thread after thread of toxic bile. Comments used to be the primary reason I visited here; there were once real debates, but that aspect has fallen into ruin.

  72. Dave D says:

    @Franklin: I had this argument earlier about the taxes on cigarettes. As a smoker I have yet to figure out how a person buying smokes and selling them individually above the retail price has customers because taxes. If the taxes are so onerous that the black market exists he would be selling bootleg cigs that bypass the taxes. He was selling cigs he bought at a mark up. This will happen regardless of taxes on a pack as there will always be people who do want/can’t afford an entire pack. That said taxes on a pack (20 cigs) doesn’t create a black market where people pay more per unit price for an individual smoke.

  73. C. Clavin says:

    @Dave D:
    Typically what’s going on is someone buys a pack a sells 1/2 at a mark-up to cover the cost of their half- pack.

  74. PD Shaw says:

    @C. Clavin: Are they buying it over the border too?

  75. C. Clavin says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Calling super a coward and cursing him is unhelpful and incivil

    Seriously? Super is an abject racist who regularly insults entire races of people.

  76. An Interested Party says:

    Do I really need to link to all of the photographs of the “No Snitchin” that was grafitted in Ferguson. Do I really need to link to the Stop Snitching video made in Baltimore. Do I really need to look up the low closure rates for homicides in majority black communities.

    Oh please…a few random idiots hardly constitutes “many on the left would prefer a government policy of no snitching/disconnect 911/eliminate law enforcement.”

    Do try harder next time…

    If Mr Garner or Mr Brown had been more compliant, more instantly obedient and respectful, probably they would have lived through their encounters with police.

    Oh absolutely! If Garner had only gotten on his knees and begged to be left alone he wouldn’t have been chocked to death…

    …that more resembles thunderdome…

    An apt reference, as most of SD’s arguments boil down to telling us that America is turning into Thunderdome as people of color make up more and more of the population…

  77. Ben Wolf says:

    @C. Clavin: That might be true; I disagree with virtuallly everything super has ever written. His past behavior should not set the ground rules for how everyone else behaves in response.

    Has no one else noticed comments here have become an echo chamber? The range of opinion is remarkably monochromatic, leaving super and Jenos, as largely the sole dissenting voices. Yes, they’re receiving in kind what they dish out, and it has come to mirror right-wing sites in that regard.

  78. KM says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    Has no one else noticed comments here have become an echo chamber?

    Yes and no. There are plenty of disagreements amongst us on details and specifics – what’s missing is complete partisan rancor. I’ve been on several threads where there were degrees of separation instead of miles, which is about what you’d suspect in a real-life population. I think a lot of us are becoming so used to the idea that there’s this massive opinion divide that we’re shocked when we see evidence that America’s a spectrum that’s generally close to the middle. On this thread alone, we’ve had previously-antagonistic rivals agree that this instance as a terrible thing. Doug, James et al do a good job of posting articles that are technical, reasoned and debate-worthy in a way that many of us tend to follow the same thought process upon reply – the partisanship seems to be more in relation to the commenters, rather then the commentary itself.

    That being said, I’m positive there are many many readers who for reasons known only to themselves don’t post comments that are red, blue and every shade in-between. It’s a self-selecting cohort: knowledge of blog-> interest in article-> interest in comments-> desire to respond -> desire to reply to a rebuttal. It narrows down readership to those with the ability, time, desire and content to comment. I read far more then I contribute and that’s when I have free time – there’s plenty i would like to say that just never makes it to my keyboard. The “echo chamber” phenomenon comes from hearing the same voices, again and again, just like in any debate but is not a true-reflection of OTB and its readership. I’d love to hear more from the lurkers, but till they choose to speak up, what can you do?

  79. Tony W says:

    @KM: Agree KM, on nearly every article I have a terribly clever point to make, only to find it has already been made three times above. In that case I just move on. What fun it is to be the occasional first-poster though 🙂

  80. JohnMcC says:

    @Dave D: I had the same thought (what’s the point of selling single cigarettes?) when the news and video of Mr Garner’s death first came out. Then I caught some stream of journalism — FSM help me, I can’t remember where — that said the ‘loosies’ being peddled by Mr Garner were untaxed and that the reason they are sold out of their packaging is because the NY state tax stamps were missing so that possessing a full pack would have constituted a crime by the buyer. The price of 20 ‘loosies’ would be less that a pack of tax-paid smokes.

    Wish I could cite the source but the flow of news has been both wide and dense.

  81. JohnMcC says:

    @KM: I agree wholeheartedly that the the level of interesting debate has suffered here since there seems to have been an increase in troll activity.

    I would have liked to post something to the effect that law enforcement in America has always been about controlling lower classes and minorities. I’d have contended that the militias of the southern colonies existed almost entirely because of the fear of slave rebellions. I’d have thrown in a few observations about the south’s ‘black laws’ with reference in particular to the crime of ‘vagrancy’. There could have been thoughtful side-trips into lynchings and racial violence like the riots that used to terrorize the Chinese in CA.

    Then some fool starts posting about ‘left-fascism’ and whoops! there we go onto a subject that’s been run over a thousand times.

    Somewhat depressing. Still this is the most interesting comment section that I know of. Frankly, some of the commenters here are much much more captivating that the Original Posters.

  82. JohnMcC says:

    @An Interested Party: Obviously I stated my point badly because KM (who seems like and insightful and articulate person) and you (ditto) both throw up my remark about servility and compliance to the police as if I were approving of this.

    For the record. We are all proud that our country’s founding documents and extensive history has promised us our dignity and civil respect. Even REAL thugs and crooks are promised that they have inalienable rights.

    Please read my whole post before deciding that I advocate obsequious groveling before some d*mn Office Barney.

  83. Blue Galangal says:

    @KM: I keep coming back here because of the comments section. It’s always a good day when I see an article posted about something that interests me because the conversation here is generally thoughtful and intelligent. I find that some of the usual suspects are interesting in that they are at least willing to engage, whereas you have places like freeperville where the usual suspects seem to outdo themselves seeing who can shout the same talking points the loudest, and if you say, “but…” you get banned. It’s not pleasant or interesting.

  84. KM says:

    @JohnMcC:

    Obviously I stated my point badly

    I wouldn’t say that. You did articulate your point well; you just happened to hit a very sore personal point. I do apologize if my frustration seemed like was directed at you – it was meant to be a comment on the wording/concept that keeps popping up, not the fact that you chose those words personally. The power dynamic is definitely the issue and I keep seeing and hearing similar phrasing come up; even well-meaning people repeating what others say gives the option to shift even a smidgeon of blame from the officer to the victim and… well, it tweaks. Having escaped an abusive relationship, I’m very sensitive to these little things and may not have phrased things as clearly as I could. You were kind enough to acknowledge fault and deserve the same in kind – I didn’t think you were supporting anything untowards.

    I think a lot of the rage at this case flows from a similar place – too many of us have had dealt with terrible people and situations in life to not recognize douchbaggery when we see it and accept this as anything else but injustice. The passion that results can make for short tempers but we all seem to be on the same side.