Police Keep On Policing Different People Differently


Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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22 Responses

  1. Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

    And the desperate silence of the NRA with regard to cases like Washington continues.

    Not sure why they don’t just give up and merge with the various Fraternal Order of Police, or what ever the national Police Protection Racket is called?Report

  2. Avatar Pinky says:

    Black people are about 1/8 of the US population. They commit about 1/3 of the violent crime. They account for about 1/4 of the total police killings.Report

    • Avatar pillsy says:

      So guys like Washington deserve to be shot to death for no reason as collective punishment?


      Then maybe lay some cards on the table instead of making gnomic allusions to dubiously relevant statistics.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        I don’t want to come off as attacking anyone here, but it seems to me that Sam is implicitly lining up those dubious gnomes himself. I assume that you’d agree with me that this article alludes to a notion that blacks and whites get treated differently. If that is what Sam is saying, then it seems meaningful to question the validity of his implicit generalization. I don’t believe he is listing specific cases without an eye toward making a general claim, so I don’t think I’m overstepping by addressing that general claim.Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Well yes, because there’s substantial evidence that whites and blacks do get treated differently, and given that in both these specific cases the black people being shot had done nothing to warrant being shot means it’s hard to see what possible relevance the crime rates have to do with anything.

          It can’t possibly excuse or even mitigate such shootings.Report

          • Avatar dragonfrog says:

            Not to mention of course some amount of the higher “crime rate” among black people is a direct result of being overpoliced relative to white people.

            White people are probably more likely to be in possession of drugs – as evidence, the percentage of police searches of white people that find drugs is higher.

            But black people are more likely to be found in possession of drugs – because the higher rates at which they get searched by police, and the lower rates at which they get away with a warning when found in possession, are more than enough to offset their lower rates of actual possession – for an overall higher rate of possession arrests, and therefore a higher recorded rate of the crime of drug possession.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              It’s hard to make that case about murder, though, and it follows the same pattern.Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog says:

                There is probably much less of an overpolicing factor there.

                Overconvicting (relative to white people) might have a bit to do with it though. For example, white defendants tend to get self-defence arguments recognized in cases where black defendants wouldn’t. Partly that’s likely because white people tend to be richer and so have better lawyers, but partly also because juries are just harder on black defendants.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      This of course might be an argument worth considering if many of the people Sam listed had been in the process of committing a violent crime at the time of being murdered by the police.Report

  3. The Jason Erik Washington situation and response, or more to the point lack there of, is so similar to Philando Castile (at least insofar as what is known at this time) in the silence from a majority of 2A orgs and groups as it has to be taken as a pattern. A maddeningly, unforgivable pattern.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    As I mentioned to Dark Matter on the other threads, statistics don’t help us here since the story is captured in testimony and witness.

    We have millions of black and brown people describing mistreatment and abuse, of being treated with disdain and disrespect.

    Not one or two, millions. Not one group of black people, but all groups; rich black people, poor black people; black people from every single state, from all different walks of life, from all age groups;

    They all are telling the same story, and have for decades, since longer than any of us have been alive.The stories all vary in particulars but all follow the same arc.

    The counter narrative, that racism isn’t a problem requires us to believe a preposterous idea, that somehow millions of people colluded on a false story, and are lying, all the same lie.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      I don’t hear all black people saying the same thing. I’d suggest that any time you think you hear everyone saying the same thing, you should broaden the number of people you’re listening to. But I’ll grant that the complaint is common. Now, if a complaint is common, and it’s not supported by evidence, that could indicate a widespread lie, but it could also indicate a widespread mistaken belief. If the complaint is common within a culture, it could indicate a flawed belief system within that culture.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Millions of black people are talking about their own personal experiences.

        This isn’t the lady with a dog in the microwave.

        This is millions of people saying “I was mistreated/ beat/ shot/arrested”.Report

      • Avatar Jesse says:

        Even Senator Tim Scott (Black Republican – South F’ing Carolina) has a story about being pulled over for Driving While Black.Report

  5. Avatar Derek Stanley says:

    I was playing around with the Washington Post’s Fatal Force web page on Police shootings (and killing). While it does not go into specifics on the case and if there was other circumstances, it is interesting to play around with.


    Out of 987 fatal police shootings, 940 were males. Are the police sexist?Report

    • Avatar Derek Stanley says:

      Messing around a little more for fleeing the scene and unarmed:

      White guys: 2 killed
      Black guys: 6 killed

      This looks like there may be an issue, but this does not take into account the number of times these males fled and were not killed. If it was equal, then this is a problem. If black guys fled 3 times or more than the white guys in 2017, then there may be a problem, but it may be about the larger numbers of fleeing black guys or about the larger number of stops police make on them, than the shooting itself.

      It is easy to point to bad cases like the ones in the article and say there is a problem (and there is for the specific cop involved), but to say there is an over all problem in the police, it will then depend more on the percentages of these killing compared to the cases were the cops did not shoot to see if there is a higher likelihood of police shooting black guys over white guys.Report

      • Avatar Maribou says:


        “or about the larger number of stops police make on them”

        That is the biggest problem right there.

        Even the Harvard study of police shootings that many like to tout as “proving” the police shootings aren’t racist (it didn’t, and its author did not claim such), also established that cops make many more nuisance stops per capita on black people. That is where the higher percentages come from.

        Racist cops (including systematically racist cop departments) stop many more black people that white people for no good reason. (Eg, Philando Castile was pulled over somewhere where ‘driving while black’ is a really huge cop problem.) Then said cops are also more likely to pull out a gun and shoot said black people, than other cops are to shoot anybody. Which leads to the statistical pattern shown.

        As far as I can tell, that’s the explanation that fits all the various studies, statistics, etc.

        It’s why they stopped stop and frisk in NY.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Of course, there are lots of reasons one might flee from police, including the fear that if one doesn’t, one will end up in an impossible situation where one is shot with, at best, a Taser.Report

  6. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Pinky: Black people are about 1/8 of the US population.They commit about 1/3 of the violent crime.They account for about 1/4 of the total police killings.

    So they really deserve to be shot, when you think about it.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    There was a police-involved shooting in Chicago earlier today and a neighborhood-involved protest that resulted in a clash that is going to be a lot tougher to describe using passive tense verbs.Report