Emantic Bradford Jr.’s Killer Will Not Be Charged

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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153 Responses

  1. North says:

    Well I mourn for Emantic Bradford Jr. but I won’t lament much for the death of the “good guy with a gun” line. I’d hope it will be buried in an unmarked grave but we both know the NRA will run some current through the bolts in its neck and have it marching in parades again in short order.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    The authorities should have a lot less authority.Report

    • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

      @jaybird Or, in lieu of that, a lot more accountability. (And also, get the racists out of there.)Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        Yes. Obviously the problem is that we don’t have authorities over the authorities.

        (flash forward)

        Well, obviously, the authorities over the authorities need authorities looking over them.

        (flash forward)

        I don’t see how people just don’t see how this could be solved with authorities over the authorities over the authorities of the authorities.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

          OK. So suppose you’re right to criticize the logic of *adding* accountability to a system based on authority. I take it you have a better solution. I’m anxious to hear it.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

            Redistribute authority among The People.

            Like, “fewer cops, and the cops we do have won’t have anywhere near the authority they have now”.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

              I’m not even sure that would address this particular problem. Maybe other problem, but not this one.

              Because “confronting armed people who are running around shooting people” really is, like, the most basic function of the police. This wouldn’t have been prevented by saying police shouldn’t stop people for broken tail lights, or that their power to search people and vehicles should be pared back to something marginally less preposterous, or any of the many, many other things one might want to do to reduce the authority and even size of a police force.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Because “confronting armed people who are running around shooting people” really is, like, the most basic function of the police.

                If this is an example of one of the eggs that needs being broken in order to make the omelet of society, then I guess we just have to shrug and say that the police need more training.

                Because, in theory, this is the sort of thing that they’re *SUPPOSED* to be doing.

                And you have to expect a certain number of mistakes.

                I mean, this isn’t anywhere near as bad as when the snipers shot the autistic kid’s black minder. It’s not a never event. It’s a horrible thing that happened… but… hey. Mistakes will be made if you want police to confront armed people who run around shooting people in a society that allows civilians to arm themselves in public.

                Hey… maybe if we kept civilians from arming themselves in public, the police wouldn’t be so jumpy all the time… Quick! We need to make sure that people who aren’t the authorities don’t have weapons that make the authorities nervous!Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is it, though? I mean I’m not sure why we would treat, “Police shooting the wrong person by mistake even when there’s a genuine active shooter involved,” as a necessarily tolerable outcome.

                Indeed, there have been numerous instances where this is exactly the situation the police (thought they) were in. And if we say, “Well, we’ll make an exception to the rule that the police should never shoot an innocent when they believe there’s an active shooter present,” the police will almost certainly believe there are a lot more active shooters present.

                And I’m really not sure why “more training” is an acceptable solution but “having people with power to hold police accountable” isn’t.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                I mean I’m not sure why we would treat, “Police shooting the wrong person by mistake even when there’s a genuine active shooter involved,” as a necessarily tolerable outcome.

                Because it’s a dangerous situation, you need to be able to make snap decisions in less than a second and so on and so forth, I’m sure you don’t need me to give the litany.

                And I’m really not sure why “more training” is an acceptable solution but “having people with power to hold police accountable” isn’t.

                They had an investigation. They looked into this. The people with the power to hold police accountable did what they did. Read the original post.

                Sure, I want a system that works as intended too.

                I appreciate that that sort of thing is what we all want.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Jaybird says:

                Yeah fine this is obviously not going to be a useful discussion.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

                Well, I’ll let you get back to suggesting that either The State Of Alabama look into this and/or Donald Trump’s Government look into it, then.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

              Sure. Add some additional authority – the authority to reduce authority – to our authority based system?

              I mean, you love to criticize Sam for desiring accountability, yet that’s exactly what you want too, and by the same mechanisms: reducing the authority by which cops are granted immunity.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                It’s kind of exceptionally different from what I want.

                I want the authority of the police dissolved.
                He wants meta-police with the power to police the police (and he seems to have the assumption that the police police won’t put the police on paid leave, have a full investigation, and then put the cop back on the street).Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                I want the authority of the police dissolved.

                So, you want an authority with the authority to dissolve police authority. Got it.

                Oh wait, you used to be a big Second Amendment Solution guy. Is that where you’re going with this? Replace the old boss with a shiny new boss?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                Oh, making a suggestion like that one would be illegal.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird I would be extremely interested in seeing where it was exactly that I suggested that I wanted “meta-police with the power to police the police.” Do you have that link?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                I’m sorry, I must not have understood what you meant by “accountability”.

                So you just want a system pretty much like what we have now, only with better people in it?Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird At the very minumum, I would start with the end of qualified immunity for officers engaged in shootings as well as for officers who engage in subsequent coverups of those shootings (see, the Laquan Mcdonald case), civilian oversight boards, mandatory (and publicly available) data collection capturing police violence at all levels, an end to the absolutely failed drug war, an end to profiling programs, and increased focus on white collar crime.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                So we need to
                1. Get rid of qualified immunity (I love it! How do we do it?)
                2. Those who engage in subsequent coverups? (Sounds like a capture problem is already established in there. Could we get rid of police unions or no?)
                3. Civilian oversight boards (seems doable… we’d have to be very careful that they’re not captured)
                4. Data collection (seems doable, you would want an independent group doing the collection and you’d need them to not be captured)
                5. End the Drug War (sounds great! Does this involve legalizing meth too or just pot? Can I finally get my real cold medicine again?)
                6. End profiling programs (how to get rid of unofficial ones?)
                7. Increased focus on white collar crime (more cops patrolling cube farms and suburbs? I think you’ll see that there’s a capture problem there too)

                I’m pretty much on board.
                The problems that I see all involve that the institutions have been captured.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’m really interested to know why Sam wants more focus on white collar crime. I suspect he knows that none of his proposals will actually reduce incarceration levels so he just wants to see more whites in jail to balance things out.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Actually, I take that back. Full drug legalization would probably help the numbers a bit. Heroin available at Walgreens, etc.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird You asked me about the system I “want” which is very, very, very different than the system that is possible. If you’re asking me about the system that is feasible, the answer is going to be very different, given my own cynicism coupled with the realistic constraints, which includes everything from the training that police officers receive to the cultural enthusiasm for police violence so long as it is visited against the right people (who tend to be the minorities that police cheerleaders hate).Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                ” the cultural enthusiasm for police violence so long as it is visited against the right people”

                sort of like the time Richard Spencer got punched in the face on live TV

                well i mean that wasn’t the cops but, y’know, the culture sure did seem pretty enthusiastic for that violenceReport

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to DensityDuck says:

                If I recall there was silence on this site when 5 officers were murdered in Dallas in 2016. There was also silence recently when 4 officers were shot serving a warrant in Houston. Lots of other officers have been killed simply doing their job and no one on this site was upset enough to write about it.

                If we take that silence as approval (or at least the absence of outrage) then it almost feels like enthusiasm. Or maybe we’re just chalking those deaths up to karma?Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If I recall there was silence on this site when 5 officers were murdered in Dallas in 2016.

                You commented on the very thread discussing that.Report

              • pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                So murdering a black person running towards an active shooter in order to try to stop them is morally equivalent to punching a Nazi in the face.

                Got it.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

                Hey, take it up with the guy who suggested that cultural enthusiasm for violence so long as it is visited against the right people ought to be considered in policy proposals.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to DensityDuck says:

                @densityduck Just so we’re clear: you believe that Emantic Bradford’s killing is the same, or even comparable, to a racist provocateur taking a punch in the jaw from somebody that he was antagonizing?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                Well, best of luck. Maybe being on the right side of history will help.

                I hope whatever you get to set up isn’t captured by a corrupt culture.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird There is no scenario in which I get “to set up” anything, and of course, capture by the same bad actors is always a concern, as it is with almost every imaginable solution to almost every imaginable problem.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                Well, I think that some of the achievables might include stuff like “busting up the Police Union” and we could point to the excesses as to why getting rid of that is a first step.

                Lemme know if you’ll ever be on board with that sort of thing.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to Jaybird says:

                @jaybird I do not have a problem with considering a rethink of police unions, especially in the aftermath of what has happened in Houston.Report

  3. pillsy says:

    They’re literally justifying killing an innocent civilian by citing their responsibility to protect innocent civilians. It would be hilarious if, you know, they hadn’t fucking killed a guy for no good reason.Report

  4. Oscar Gordon says:

    Let’s be honest here, Bradford could have been an off-duty cop and we’d have the same result. Because it’s not about the dead guy, it’s about the system doing everything it can to avoid being held to account.Report

    • North in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      And the NRA is an integral part of that system now. I have to admit; I’ve been shocked at how blatantly the NRA has abandoned gun owning minorities. It seemed like such an easy test for them to pass.Report

    • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Depends – how many black police officers does Hoover AL have? What are the odds that an off-duty police officer would have been white, therefore given a chance to identify himself rather than shot on sight?Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

        I doubt it. Potential mass shooting going down? Officers aren’t going to be thinking, they are just going to be looking for a gun wielder to shoot at. Skin color will mean very little.
        Patrol officers just do not get the training that would allow them to rationally asses such a stressful situation.Report

        • dragonfrog in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          https://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/27/nyregion/27shoot.html first ever systematic study of mistaken identity shootings of police officers by other police officers finds racial bias plays a significant role.


          Officer K. remembered one more thing, vividly: the white man, a fellow officer, stumbled toward him.

          “Oh my God, Mike,” he cried out, his jaw shaking. “I didn’t know. All I saw was a black guy with a gun.”

          Not just a guy with a gun. A BLACK guy with a gun. The race of the armed man was a factor in the decision to (very nearly) shoot him.Report

          • dragonfrog in reply to dragonfrog says:

            Also from the second article

            Each said he had found himself in the same situation at one time or another, sandwiched between a threatening suspect and a fellow officer who didn’t recognize him.

            Some also said that they had been on the other side of the gun, mistaking another black or Hispanic officer for a suspect, but all said that somehow, they had been spared of any gunfire. No one could recall an incident, however, in which a black officer nearly shot a white officer in this kind of confrontation.

            “Any black cop who has ever lived, be he under cover or off duty, knows what this is about,” said Eric Adams, vice president of the Grand Council of Guardians, the black officers’ fraternal organization. “Our danger is double.” Easy Targets

            Although the police do not keep statistics on the number of confrontations between police officers, police officials say that white officers rarely find themselves the victims of mistaken identity.

            Those are police officials saying that.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to dragonfrog says:

            I was specific to potential mass shootings, not just shootings in general, or man with a gun cases.

            Racism aside, because it is a distraction from my original point, which is that the department would have exonerated the officer even if Bradford had been a cop. Even if he’d been a white cop, the officer would be in the clear. Because the system will not admit that it’s agents are fallible enough that they should be held to account if it can find a way to avoid that.Report

        • Richard Hershberger in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          This also is, and always has been, the problem with the “good guy with a gun” stance, even if racism weren’t a factor. What happens when you have two good guys with guns, both looking for a gun wielder to shoot at? Now imagine that you have a whole bunch of good guys with guns? Someone setting of a firecracker could result in mass mayhem.Report

    • Dark Matter in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

      Oscar Gordon: Let’s be honest here, Bradford could have been an off-duty cop and we’d have the same result. Because it’s not about the dead guy, it’s about the system doing everything it can to avoid being held to account.

      Off duty white female cop shot by on duty cop “playing a version of russian roulette”


      This link does NOT do a good job of describing the system covering for this guy. If memory serves the Prosecutor or someone was complaining of serious foot-dragging/obstruction. I got the feeling sex and alcohol were involved but the blood tests were delayed or something.Report

  5. JoeSal says:

    “Democracy kills in darkness.”Report

  6. DavidTC says:

    Look, the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun, and the only way to stop a good guy with a gun is a cop with a gun, and the only way to stop a cop with a gun is a bad guy with a gun.

    Or, to summarize: We clearly need way more guns. Way way more guns. And, eventually, everybody with a gun will be stopped.

    And whoever is left over can bury them.Report

  7. Mike Dwyer says:

    The high amount of actual facts in this article probably don’t mesh very well with the narrative Sam has been trying to promote for the last couple of years, but it’s certainly worth a read.

    Per the article, there are an average of 45 fatal police shootings of unarmed individuals per year in the entire country. 31% of those were black or about 14 people. And yet countless hours of time has been spent on this site debating those 14 deaths.

    Meanwhile, there were 561 fatal shootings just in Chicago in 2018. Around 75% of those victims were black or about 421 people. Yes, Chicago, Baltimore and DC are outliers, but so are mass shootings and every time we have one in the United States, the Left is screaming for legislation. Where is the discussion about inner city crime? Where are the policy prescriptions? It feels like this is mostly ignored because it would force liberals to take a hard look at cultural factors in minority communities, which is not something they feel comfortable doing.

    Dwelling on 14 police involved deaths nationally and ignoring thousands of blacks killed on city streets every year is either an example of the emperor having no clothes or simply ignorance. I honestly can’t figure out which. Luckily the narrative is starting to shift nationally and both black and white authors are starting to push back.

    When a decision is made to hyper-focus on 14 tragic police shootings of blacks and not the thousands of tragic non-police shootings of blacks, it should be the job of every reader to question why. What is the story that is being buried? What are the biases at work here? Why are facts being ignored in favor of a narrative that frankly doesn’t exist?Report

    • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      So let me get this straight: Sam should stop talking about the ways that law enforcement directly murders black people and start talking about the ways that law enforcement fails utterly to protect them in many of the same cities where it murders them?

      Well OK then.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

        “…and start talking about the ways that law enforcement fails utterly to protect them…”

        Perhaps it’s time to start talking about agency within those communities? It seems fairly prejudiced to assume they are at the mercy of the state either way.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Not really seeing how “agency within those communities” absolves the police of their basic raison d’être, much less justifies them rolling up and killing people in those communities for no reason.

          Unless the police shootings are supposed to be collective punishment for high crime rates. Is that it?Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

            It doesn’t absolve the police, it puts the focus on the bigger problem. Sort of like how it would be a much more productive discussion to talk about handguns but white progressives have a hard-on for assault weapons. In the case here, it’s real easy for folks like yourself to wave away the bigger discussion because…racism…but it would be far more interesting to talk about actual policies that might help reduce actual crime in those cities. When a group of allegedly smart people spend SO MUCH time talking about a tiny fraction of violent deaths (tragic though they may be), I come right back to motivations.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              I dunno, I think having cops spend more time actually doing effective things to combat violent crime–and one of the things we actually know works is building enough trust within those communities so that people are willing to help them apprehend violent criminals or even avert violent crimes before they happen.

              Murders, after all, are committed by a small number of people. Even the very high murder rate in Chicago you cite means that there aren’t going to be much more than about five hundred murderers committing them. And there seems to be a contagion whereby violence begets violence; it’s not just an old saying or something.

              Police gunning innocent people (not to mention engaging in other forms of abuse and brutality) down hurts on all these fronts.

              Hell, you mentioned handguns and one major reason I’m so skeptical of handgun bans is that, if you look at Chicago (and not just Chicago), a huge driver of police abuse was attempts to round up handguns. I’m extremely skeptical that you can effectively enforce a ban against guns [1] in a way that won’t end up failing to help or even make things worse without a lot of community buy-in and support.

              The stuff Sam keeps bringing up goes right to the heart of that.

              And if we’re just going to shrug our shoulders and say that it’s up to the community to reduce the murder rate all on its own by addressing nebulous “cultural factors”, well maybe @jaybird is right and we really just shouldn’t have police at all. Go back to relying on GGWAGs instead.

              I mean, I think this is a terrible idea, but I think it’s a terrible idea because I think it’s possible for law enforcement to do better.[2] If I’m wrong about that, well, what’s the point?

              [1] Even if you’re only banning them from people who everybody agrees shouldn’t have them, like felons!

              [2] And if we’re talking about cultural factors, I can’t really say how an attitude that denies the agency and accountability of the police is a positive one.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              Maybe because I am still thinking about the Green New Deal thread, but this sorta reminds me of that, where when we propose microtargeted suggestions like magazine limits, we get told to look at the big picture socieoeconomic factors like poverty and racism.
              When we suggest looking at socioeconomic factors, we get told those are too large and vague and to restrict ourselves to actionable policy.

              The Real Issue it seems, is always whatever is not under discussion.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, for me it comes down to this: even if we completely solve the problem of police shooting unarmed black men we are talking about eliminating 14 death in the United States per year. Think how much discussion has happened just on this site about that problem. It’s staggering how disproportional it is, and honestly, it’s a testament to the power of Sam’s Pied Piper routine over the last couple of years.

                I’m a social scientist by training and I will always focus on culture as the problem. A fake nod to racism does not solve problems, it only kicks the can down the road. I get that identity politics are the religion of the left but it does a great disservice to the people they claim to want to help. When you talk about a micro idea, I’m all ears. At least you’re suggesting policy. I see very little of that for most of the folks that only want to talk about race.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                How much of that conversation happened because people just had, had, had to find reasons why it’s OK for the cops to shoot black people for no reason?

                Don’t pretend for a second that the Rightwards don’t have a ton of responsibility for this.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It’s not about the deaths, as such. It’s about the inability of law enforcement to be held to account for actions that it demands we be held to account for.

                Let me put it this way, if Bradford was an off-duty cop, and he was seen by a GGWAG and shot and killed, do you imagine for a moment that the police or the DAs office would accept for a microsecond the rationale they used to absolve the officer?Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                If you were making a list of the things that harm minority communities the most, does this even make the top 10?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Hey, I got an idea. Why don’t we let the minority communities themselves tell us what they think harm them?

                Oh, that’s right. Whenever they do, we get treated to detailed litigation of their comments and a blizzard of statistics to prove that they don’t know what they are talking about.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:


                I’m interested in the opinions of those communities, but I’m also interested in facts. Sociologists have been documenting problems in Chicago for over 70 years and the only thing that keeps shifting is liberal theories about causation.

                The truth is that many people in these communities are requesting more police presence even as 72% of police say they are less likely to investigate suspicious activity due to anti-cop sentiment.

                There’s a real disconnect between perceptions and reality, as the first article I linked to suggests. Numerous studies have come out lately disputing racial bias in policing, but there’s still that perception. Certainly there are also other influences. For example, something like 80% of college educated blacks say racism negatively affects their lives but only about 50% of non-college educated blacks agree. So either college educated blacks are better at seeing racism or they have been trained to perceive it.

                The first article I linked to makes. a pretty convincing case. Shod I dismiss it if a minority tells me their perception is different?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                You’re a social scientist and you think the truth of racial bias is to be found in crime statistics and police blotters? As opposed to the testimony of millions of people about their own experiences?Report

              • InMD in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Part of the reason I find a lot of race-centric writing on the topic (including the OP’s) unpersuasive is because it opens the door for your response. On the other hand if you look at these deaths as the most extreme examples of the same phenomenon that has tens of thousands of doors kicked in a year by swat teams, the shake downs (‘stop and frisk’), the rough rides, the use of civil asset forfeiture and quality of life crimes to collect revenue, etc…. Well it becomes really hard to deny that the way we do policing in many parts of the country is inconsistent with the constitution or a free society.

                Racial minorities are impacted by it disproportionately but they’re hardly the only ones victimized. If the only issue was the handful of shootings I’d agree with you, but there’s more going on here even if many of the most passionate about the issue aren’t able to articulate it.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Yes, top 5 even.

                If the police can not be held accountable, except the most extreme cases, how is a community supposed to trust the police to serve them? The less political power a community has, the less able they are to hold the police accountable, the less they will trust the police, they less they will actively cooperate with the police.

                Accountability and public trust go hand in hand.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                So 14 deaths per year is a top five for a community of millions?

                What about the thousands of deaths not attributed to cops?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                If social objectivity does exist this is a significant issue. How can such a large portion of society walk past the 1000s of dead to go point at 14.

                It’s as if it is unpopular to see the thousands.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to JoeSal says:


                I think this author explains the dynamics a lot better than I can:

                “…Often the voices screaming the loudest following instances of racial animus or law enforcement misconduct belong to white progressives who have taken it upon themselves to champion causes on behalf of the politically mute or ‘marginalized.’ This embarrassing spectacle sometimes resembles an adult who humors a fractious infant just to reassure it that he is an amiable and unthreatening figure. This does not, of course, mean that support and solidarity from whites on racial issues isn’t necessary or welcome. But support and thoughtless acquiescence to a particular narrative are not synonymous.”

                I think that the thousands of dead are ignored because it creates very unpleasant conversations for Democrats, namely these:

                “Of the ten poorest cities in America, nine are run by Democrats. Of the ten cities with the highest levels of unemployment, nine are run by Democrats. Of the ten most dangerous cities in America, eight are run by Democrats. In each case, those affected are disproportionately black, with blacks having higher rates of poverty, lower rates of income, and higher rates of criminality. Despite a dearth of evidence that voting Democrat has an inherently positive impact on life as a black man or woman in America, progressives continue to demonize any attempt by blacks to look for solutions beyond the Democratic echo chamber.”

                I’m not suggesting the Right has the answers either (I abandoned any hope of them getting things correct some time ago) but I think the ones driving this conversation are mostly white progressives trying to atone with their concern, because honestly, they haven’t offered anything else to minorities in the way of actually bettering their lives.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Again, it’s not about the deaths per se, those just get the most attention. It’s about the glaring double standard of the justice system. The fact of the double standard is of course highlighted by non-stop media attention, but you can not deny that police do not consistently face justice for acts that would send people in the community to prison.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                If the 14 deaths happened by a private security firm that employed 1 million agents, how do you think this would be addressed?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                The agents responsible would very likely go to prison.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                So it may be useful here to just ‘invoke rule of law’.

                I mostly agree with the exception that the private firm will eventually suffer the same bit rot that the police department has, putting themselves above rule of law and acting with impunity.(i think eventually there needs to be a discussion with the ‘muh legal guilds!’ people.)

                I think you have a good grasp of this, but i see the primary reaction of others reaching for the broad brush of racism as the primary factor. Even more strange is that a straw man is fitted with a NRA shirt and sacrificed to the God of Needs.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I think racism is a lot more than none of it, but distinctly less than all of it. In instances where cops murder white people, there’s rarely much accountability, either.

                Then again, I also think that racism contributes substantially to the high homicide rate among African Americans.

                Also, in the last 20 years or so, homicide rates have fallen dramatically across the board. This does a lot to change perceptions both of the seriousness of the problem and also the willingness to tolerate the kind of violent policing measures that contribute a lot to police killing innocents.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                “I also think that racism contributes substantially to the high homicide rate among African Americans.”

                Not at all surprised to hear you say this but please, elaborate.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                War on Drugs (which has always had a racist component) drove and still drives a lot of it, high incarceration rates for lesser offenses (that wealthier and whiter people often slide on) also gets a lot of people entangled in a criminal world, terrible relationships with local police departments (which leads to both over- and under-policing), and a ton of rolling policy failures and deliberate attempts at disenfranchisement and immiseration that interfere with the ability to build good local economies to provide businesses and jobs.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                War on Drugs – yeah, I used to think this one too, but when you look at the prison numbers, people in prison for non-violent drug offenses is, if I recall, less than 5% of prisoners. If you include ALL drug offenses it’s about 11% of all inmates.

                I would also mention that my thoughts on Chicago specifically were largely informed by my reading of Black Metropolis in college. They identified most of the same problems in Chicago 80 years ago. The roots of the black ghetto there could be traced to white flight, but the cultural factors they saw were in many ways laid at the feet of the inhabitants themselves. Observations about violence, absent fathers, etc sound strikingly modern and yet this was a long time before the War on Drugs. That’s what I mean by the Left constantly shifting their opinion on causation.

                I think it’s also time to face the facts that decades of Democratic rule has not helped that city at all. I’m not advocating giving it to the GOP but a Third Way would be great.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                OK so I’m pretty sure that there wasn’t less racism in Chicago 80 years ago.

                And the War on Drugs doesn’t just drive non-violent offenses, though, but also violent ones! It’s not like drug war carnage is a strictly US phenomenon. Nor for that matter is the link between violent crime and an antagonistic relationship with the police.

                Also, like I think I said in a different comment (?), focusing on police violence hardly exonerates Democratic rule either. And Dems at the national level played a significant role in police militarization and over-incarceration in the ’90s.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

                Less racism than 1938? There was less racism in Chicago when I was there in 1998… has it gotten worse?Report

              • pillsy in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Maybe, but there hasn’t been a return to de jure white supremacy, among many other things.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:


                I wasn’t suggesting there was less racism in Chicago in 1938. What I am saying is that external factors were much different and yet the cultural realities of black ghettos were nearly the same. When Black Metropolis was written, one of the conclusions from the authors were that all of these blacks had come from the farms during the Great Migration, forced into ghettos and then they couldn’t figure out how to get out. That is where I would start with progressive policy. Create a second Great Migration and get these people out of the ghetto.

                Are there outside forces at work? Absolutely. Take guns for example: We know that most of the guns that get into Chicago are trafficked there from southern states like Alabama and Georgia. But progressives don’t really ever talk about handguns or trafficking. You all get fired up about assault weapons a few times per year because they might be used to shoot up a concert or a mall, but the actual guns doing harm in Chicago seem to be ignored.

                The reason that I hammer so hard on Sam’s propaganda machine is because if we completely solved the problem of police shootings, nothing would change. I mean, this is a very new cause for the Left. Using this as the latest thing to blame for causation, continuing to deny agency to the minorities in Chicago…it doesn’t actually solve anything. It really just perpetuates the victim mentality. Am I wrong about that? Perceptions of racism went up significantly under Obama. Progressives will say he just shown a light on things, but I would say he put the idea in a lot of people’s head, aided by white guilt and virtue signaling on the Far Left.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I mean if we want to talk “progressives” and “conservatives” then we can do that, but I’m not going to defend something like an assault weapon ban because I think an assault weapon ban would be dumb and bad. And I don’t talk much about banning handguns because, uh, among other things, I think people have a Second Amendment right to own handguns.

                Yes, I am a progressive, I suppose [1], but there are common chunks of the progressive platform I disagree with.

                As for Chicago itself, stuff that crammed black people who moved there during the Great Migration into ghettos did a lot to start the process, but those were followed by more and often new racist policies that kept them there and facilitated white flight.

                I’m all for figuring out ways to change it, from building new housing to increasing the EITC and eliminating a lot of the regulatory and licensing barriers that can keep people out of jobs or from starting new businesses [2], but at least some of the obstacles there are also exacerbated by racism. And a lot of people, mostly Rightish people IME, have been argued pretty effectively that gratuitous licensing requirements disproportionately affect people of color.

                [1] I have idiosyncratic reasons for disliking the term.

                [2] Another area where I suppose I diverge from many progressives.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:

                I don’t necessarily disagree with you on most of your solutions (I’m getting pretty close to the point where I would advocate for a handgun ban, just to test the limits of gun control enthusiasm). With that said though, as I keep noting, even if we stopped every questionable police shooting, I don’t believe it moves the needle at all regarding the plight of the people in urban ghettos. That’s I keep circling back to Why? Why is this an issue that gets talked about SO MUCH here when it simply will not change things at all? That’s when I land on terms like white guilt and atonement and virtue signaling primarily from Sam, but also from the people that keep tut-tutting every time he brings it up.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Oscar Gordon says:


                Firstly, it is about police shootings because that is what Sam likes to write about. And then the OT commentariat, nearly all white, tut-tut and say, “the way cops treat blacks is just terrible!” but I almost NEVER see actual statistics or facts. Just a sort of gut-feeling that Sam’s posts are a representative sample of the problems actually facing the country. And to be fair to Sam, he’s not the only one spinning this fable. Kamala Harris did the same thing in the speech declaring her candidacy.

                I have never said policing is perfect, but here’s what I know: Demonizing them based on a tiny, tiny number of wrongful shootings only harms the very communities that need them the most because it keeps police officers from effectively policing those communities.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I mean yeah it’s definitely criticizing the police for shooting people for no reason that’s causing the problem and not that they’re shooting people for no reason. And then, following the shootings, instead of doing what they normally do when people get gunned down for no reason, the cops go on to blame the innocent person they just shot for it.

                Like they did in this case.

                Accountability and agency for everybody but cops.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:


                Where is your outrage for the thousands who are shot and killed in non-police shootings? Is it because talking about inner city violence makes you uncomfortable or something else? Seriously, I would love to know the psychology behind your position.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Because the shootings aren’t done with impunity, dude.

                They victims aren’t usually blamed for their own murders by the very people who killed them, and the organs of the state that are supposed to protect their lives and make sure justice is done in the event of their wrongful deaths. That’s exactly what happened in this specific case which Sam wrote about.

                And because we’re told that the problem is that there’s anti-police sentiment which interferes with policing (I said that upthread and you said it too) and controlling violent crime and somehow the problem is the people who are angry at the police killing people for no reason and usually without any consequence, instead of the police doing the killing.

                As for my psychology and “discomfort”, I wrote a few hundred words about this in this comment thread already. So that isn’t it.

                Finally, the idea that it’s only white progressives who are angry about these killings is something that would, at the very least, need to be supported with something beyond gut feelings.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to pillsy says:

                @pillsy I’d swear I’d read something about an entire movement that was dedicated to this issue – one that featured, among other things, prominent athletes protesting police brutality – but, I must have imagined that, what with the folks at Quillete deciding that this was something only white progressives are concerned about.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                I’ll mention here that at least two of the writers at Quillete who I cited are black. As they note though, they are unfortunately not the monolithic group Sam would like them to be. I will also mention that the Hidden Tribes study found that white progressives have a higher concern for racism than blacks. Very telling.

                James McWhorter (also black) maybe helps explain Sam’s psychology on this front:

                “Over the past several years, for instance, whites across the country have been taught that it isn’t enough to understand that racism exists. Rather, the good white person views themselves as the bearer of an unearned “privilege” because of their color…This brand of self-flagellation has become the new form of enlightenment on race issues. It qualifies as a kind of worship; the parallels with Christianity are almost uncannily rich. White privilege is the secular white person’s Original Sin, present at birth and ultimately ineradicable. One does one’s penance by endlessly attesting to this privilege in hope of some kind of forgiveness. “Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I’m really not sure how the fact that some black people don’t think this is important as many white progressives (undoubtedly true) supports your contention that it’s only or primarily white progressives who are concerned about this.

                I’m also not sure what to make of the rather curious assertion that a focus on police violence exonerates Democratic local governments, since those governments are also responsible for the police forces.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Yeah! Why aren’t progressives trying to do anything about the high rates of violence, by restricting guns, or something about the high levels of poverty by creating safety nets, or any of the sorts of things conservatives advocate!

                No, wait. Hmm.

                And on top of that, it is obviously most important to worry about harm done under the color of law than harm done illegally. This is, frankly, so absurd it’s hard to even put into words.

                You’re basically saying: Yes, I know the people that _we hired_ are killing people, and _we_ set up rules to make that legal, but why are you trying to stop that? There’s all those illegal deaths over there you should be worrying about instead!

                Well, we already made those deaths illegal (Duh), and set up procedures to deal with people who do that! Moreover, we aren’t employing those murderers and letting them kill people on the clock for us. Like we are with the police.

                Making something actually illegal is literally the _minimal_ step we take to stop something we think people shouldn’t be allowed to do. And it is, functionally, not illegal for police to shoot unarmed people for no reason whatsoever. It might technically be so, but functionally it is not.

                Once we take _literally the most minimal step possible_ to stopping that misbehavior (Again, misbehavior we are literally paying the people who commit.), then, perhaps, we should look around and say ‘What crime should we focus on?’ But we do need to take that minimal step.

                ‘Why do you care that your Uber driver just drove through the mall and ran over someone, and they somehow aren’t going to be punished for it because Uber has really good lawyers? Thousands of people die in car accidents every day! Now if you’ll excuse me, my Uber’s here.’

                But let’s ignore those two points. Let’s pretend that the choices are ‘Do policy X which somehow reduces violence crime’ and ‘Hold police accountable for shooting people which would reduce their shooting unarmed people’, and progressives are doing the second.

                First, policy X doesn’t actually exist as some thing where we have all the answers. You appear to know this, as you literally haven’t argued we should do something instead…you just seem to think we should ‘worry’ about those crimes, aka, pure whataboutism.

                But progressives do already worry about it, and while we don’t have some magical X, we have a lot of pieces. And in addition to the ‘reduce poverty’ I mentioned above, it’s very clear that ‘Hold police accountable for shooting people’ is one of those pieces.

                Or, rather ‘Not holding police accountable’ is one of the things causing crime in majority black areas.

                The reason we have areas that are basically lawless is that the police are not called, and the reason the police are not called is exactly this sort of behavior by the police. Not just shooting people, but all the way down. Just how they interact with those communities.

                And specifically, in case you think I’m just guessing here, the police shooting black people with complete impunity has proven to reduce reporting to the police, both in people explicitly saying that in polling, and levels of 911 calls after a police shooting. Every time the police shoot a black person for no reason, less black people contact the police.

                As for lesser things, it’s harder to get stats about how black communities react to ‘police mistreatment that is short of death’ because that gets rather vague, but I think it’s safe to assume that also reduces cooperation with the police.

                Basically, those ’14 deaths’ have a hell of a lot of knock-on effect, and it’s an effect that has built since this country was founded, because the police force has always existed more to corral black people than to help them. The only way to reduce violence in black communities is to have them trust the police, and the only way to do that is to…uh…make the police actually trustworthy. By having accountability for their actions.

                So even if you _only_ care about ‘reducing crime’, holding police officers more accountable for their actions would, clearly, do that.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to DavidTC says:


                Lot of points there so I will just pick a couple:

                “Why aren’t progressives trying to do anything about the high rates of violence, by restricting guns…”

                Not a single progressive policy suggestion would reduce gun violence in inner cities. Why? They focus almost entirely on assault weapons (because those kill white people) instead of handguns and they also put all of the focus on legally purchased guns when the majority of guns used in crimes are purchased illegally. So no, I don’t consider any of these to be serious proposals aimed at actually reducing violence.

                Progressives have also had decades to improve poverty in Chicago and have so far failed.

                I would also simply ask: If we could somehow prevent another black from being killed by the police, do you think it would actually move the needle on inner city violence? Something tells me that when someone decides to assault or kill someone they aren’t actually thinking about the police shooting them. I actually can’t conceive of how the those two thoughts even coexist.Report

              • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I don’t know about @davidtc, but I’ve written quite a bit about why I think eliminating the shootings would help, here and elsewhere.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Not a single progressive policy suggestion would reduce gun violence in inner cities. Why? They focus almost entirely on assault weapons (because those kill white people) instead of handguns

                You do realize that most of the liberal-governed states have rather tight restrictions on handguns already, right? New Jersey, for example, basically forbids carrying handguns in public. New York also restricts them pretty seriously. Washington D.C. literally banned them, that was what Heller was about.

                There aren’t a bunch of progressive policy suggestions’ about those handguns because the policies are already law. You want a handgun in a liberal state, you’re going to have to go begging for a permit, and probably not get one.

                And a lot of the liberal-operated _cities_ would like to have such rules but their state forbids them making such a law. Chicago, for example, can’t do anything.

                But you’re talking about the Federal level, I guess. Gee, it’s almost as if Democrats at the national level are trying to push some sort of _minimal_ rules that the public (even conservative votes) massively agrees on at the Federal level, like banning ‘assault weapons’, instead of trying to pass restrictions on handguns that they know can’t get any Republican, or even conservative Dem, votes for.

                ‘Why are Democrats trying to do popular and possible things that will help only a little, instead of only focusing on impossible things that they will fail at that would be better?’

                they also put all of the focus on legally purchased guns when the majority of guns used in crimes are purchased illegally.

                The Democrats have a perfectly good way to stop the illegal purchase of firearms, and have been demanding it for decades, and it’s literally the major issue that the NRA absolutely refuses to consider. (Well, I mean, before they refused to consider anything at all.)

                Specifically, a gun registry where all transfers must be recorded, which would allow tracking down the point of transfers into the illegal market and punishing those points. Or, in reality, causing those points to immediately close up because they realize they are traceable.

                The problem of guns being made legally and being sold illegally is a trivial problem that we’ve known how to solve forever, and the right and the NRA simply refuses to allow it.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to DavidTC says:

                “There aren’t a bunch of progressive policy suggestions’ about those handguns because the policies are already law. You want a handgun in a liberal state, you’re going to have to go begging for a permit, and probably not get one.”

                Since we already know those types of bans don’t work, it seems like advocating for them is more about creating the illusion of doing something more than actually doing something.

                ‘Why are Democrats trying to do popular and possible things that will help only a little, instead of only focusing on impossible things that they will fail at that would be better?”

                It has already been proven that assault weapons bans don’t reduce crime. That’s largely due to the fact that they are such a small % of the guns used in crimes in the first place. But going after them every time there is a significant mass shooting is a way of signaling to scared citizens.

                Why is it a bad thing to chase meaningless legislation rather than something that might actually work? It wastes political capital. It’s not just the NRA that resists knee-jerk legislation but also average gun owners. Even though many of us are not aligned to the current version of the NRA, we also know our facts and we know this is more about signaling than actually trying to improve things. We see the theater of it and it feels very much like the Far Left trying to get their nose under the tent. Here’s a suggestion: why not build consensus within the middle of the country, work with moderates on the Right (they still exist), actually get the opinions of experts that understand guns (re: not progressives) and propose a comprehensive bill that would actually help? As Tolstoy said, “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.” Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen because progressives love ‘progress’ i.e. doing something instead of the perception of doing nothing.

                “The Democrats have a perfectly good way to stop the illegal purchase of firearms, and have been demanding it for decades, and it’s literally the major issue that the NRA absolutely refuses to consider. (Well, I mean, before they refused to consider anything at all.)”

                See my comments above. Stop proposing bad legislation and build the political consensus for good legislation, then maybe the NRA could be marginalized and something of value could actually be passed.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                It’s also a lot easier to solve the problems of the world if you first decide that they’re all your own fault, and next decide that the solution is to feel really really bad about them.Report

              • greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Many cities have had gun buy backs or dump your illegal gun day with no repercussion days to get weapons of the street. This is pretty direct and simple. Various kinds of take back the night or marches against violence are pretty common in big cities. And also attempts are social programs to get kids involved in sports or arts to keep them out of gangs. People in areas with a lot of violence do many things to try to prevent violence. That stuff doesn’t get in the paper much outside of the individual areas and even then often doesn’t get much play in the MSM.

                Simple answer people do try to get guns off the street and so things to cut down on violence.Report

              • pillsy in reply to greginak says:

                There have also been things that have successfully done to reduce homicide rates in cities by police departments. Sometimes even in cities run by Democrats, like “Operation Ceasefire” in Boston.

                They can be hard to replicate in other cities, though, because they’re resource intensive and require good relationships between the community and the police.

                And in general yeah some cities have gotten way more violent, and others have gotten way less violent. It’s not just a matter of “outliers”: given the overall way that homicide has plummeted that’s what most people have experienced.Report

              • greginak in reply to pillsy says:

                Very true. It seems like the outlier cities, baltimore, chicago, etc, are ones with serious police corruption problems.Report

              • Sam Wilkinson in reply to greginak says:

                It’s also worth noting, perhaps, that there are other cities that are far more violent than Chicago, and to a lesser extent Baltimore, but advocates insist we focus entirely upon those ones as our example cases.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                Reading this comment, I wondered “what are the more violent cities?”

                So I looked it up.

                1. Detroit
                2. Saint Louis
                3. Memphis
                4. Baltimore
                5. Rockford
                6. Kansas City
                7. Cleveland
                8. Milwaukee
                9. Little Rock
                10 (tie). Oakland
                10 (tie). Stockton

                I admit. I was surprised to see Chicago isn’t even in the top ten (er, eleven).Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                I would actually advocate the Far Left simply start focusing on the primary source of violent deaths for African Americans. That seems to make the most sense from a quality control standpoint.

                Anytime one of my operators wants to focus on error types at the bottom of a pareto chart, I’m always curios as to why. Nine times out of 10 it’s because those corrective actions don’t rock the boat much. Tackling the stuff at the top requires hard questions that make people uncomfortable.

                When white progressives spend so much time focusing on 14 deaths per year, while safely residing in low-crime states or low-crime areas of big cities, while at the same time ignoring thousands of deaths, not just in places like Chicago but in smaller cities all over the country, we should absolutely question their motivations. It seems fairly clear that this is about signaling to other white progressives and, more importantly, to minorities. It says, “I will share your outrage over these tragic shootings by police officers, while never asking you about the thousands of African Americans who die on city streets every year.” I guess those same progressives also feel uncomfortable asking those questions. So they focus on the 14 deaths while also being careful to never admit to the African Americans they are trying to atone to that eliminating those 14 deaths will not move the needle on their lives at all.Report

    • Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      This is the first time anyone has ever responded to discussions of a black person being killed br police with, “but what about black-on-black crime,” and I am now swayed! Cops killing black people is not important until black people stop dying in other ways. Thank God this rhetorical move is not standard among racists!Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chris says:


        • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          The only difference between what you’ve done to Sam and what @chris just did to you is that he was brief about it.

          But you’ve been psychoanalyzing everyone to your left on this issue for ages now, while ignoring the vast majority of what they actually have to say about the subject.

          Get the fuck off your high horse.Report

          • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:


            I’m simply looking at numbers and setting priorities. It’s very similar to my stance on guns. Focus on the factor that kills the most people.

            Chris’ comment is a snoozer because he just uses his perceived trump card to stifle debate. Like Jesse, he’s a member of the smallest and whitest sub group in American politics but Chris especially has always positioned himself as an expert on race and racism. Who is really on the high horse here?

            I won’t reiterate all the points I made to Jesse. You claim you aren’t a progressive. Great. Start engaging the facts and stop playing the racism card. There is a HUGE group of people in the center that are willing to actually talk solutions.Report

            • Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              I wonder what sub-group you think I’m a member of.

              Also, I wonder why you think I’d debate with someone like you? My general approach to unrepentant racists is to think about how to kick them out of society, not to debate them.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chris says:

                I think I’m pretty certain on your group affiliations. You have made them clear for years.

                And geez, you can’t possibly think I was talking about you and I having a debate, did you? I’ll engage with plenty of the people on this site, but I typically avoid the sociopaths.Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                I was responding to your “stifle debate” comment. If you want to claim you don’t debate folks like me, why would you suggest I was stifling something that’s not possible?

                It’s precisely because you’re a recalcitrant racist who wouldn’t dare to debate people who’ll point out your racism out every time you suggest that black people walking in the street is the real cause of racism that I never actually try to engage you in conversation. I honestly can’t figure out why anyone does.

                And I am not a “progressive,” by the way.Report

              • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chris says:

                I’m positive that you use that word many, many times per year across many interactions (although I doubt any in person because keyboard warriors like yourself often lack that kind of confidence). So when I say ‘stifle debate’ I just mean you’re another white progressive that would rather preach than discuss. I don’t need (or want) you to engage with me.Report

              • Chris in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

                Use which word? “Progressive?” I definitely don’t call myself one. Nor would anyone who’s capable of thinking beyond the Fox-MSNBC range of political opinions.

                Also, as someone who is actually out in the world doing shit, I think you’re likely projecting a bit in calling me a “keyboard warrior.”Report

          • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

            I don’t know if it is psychoanalyzing, there is a strange thing going on.

            The way I see it is there is a war of people against people going on in these areas. If you want to say it is X amount about racism, I’m good with that. What ends up happening, is basically in the middle of these war zones progressives are picking out rare police actions and pushing that to the front of the outrage line.

            I mean the optics on this would appear rather nuts:

            “I guy was killed across the street yesterday, another guy killed down the block last tuesday. Friday, someone four buildings down killed a guy across town…….Police problem?…..Oh I think they screwed up and killed the wrong guy eight, or was it nine months ago?”

            I mean how many police killings happened in Nicaragua in the last year?(nothin’ but crickets here at OT)
            This stuff looks a lot like cherry picking to push racism as a prime mover.

            Oscar has brought suggestions of changing the rules of engagement before. He has also showed that using payouts is some kind of quasi solution.

            I have my own thoughts on how progressive laws have helped create the current economic conditions for these wars to occur, and it pivots heavily on progressive policies setup over the last 80 years.Report

            • Mike Dwyer in reply to JoeSal says:

              I’ll cosign all of this.Report

            • Sam Wilkinson in reply to JoeSal says:

              @joesal You’re blaming progressive policy for police violence?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                I know it was before your time, but self governing used to be a thing. I give enough agency to these communities to figure it out without (white?) progressives pulling the strings in the name of ‘equality’ and ‘justice’.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                This system is nuts:
                “We are going to tax those people over there…. to hire those people over there….. to watch these people over here.”Report

              • dragonfrog in reply to JoeSal says:

                When self governing was a thing, lynchings, blood feuds, and witch burnings were things too. What we have now has considerable room for improvement, but suggesting we return to “self governing” aka mob justice isn’t a viable option for improvement.

                The Icelandic sagas are a wonderful and enlightening history of self government.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to dragonfrog says:

                If we are still at lynchings, and blood feuds we’re fished anyhow. All the stuff that’s being used to cover it up is window dressing.

                Fish window dressing.Report

            • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

              Well I don’t exactly think encouraging the US to involve itself more in the domestic affairs of Nicaragua, no matter how depressingly bloody they may be, is really a tremendously good plan. So we’re left with a crisis of criminal violence in another country. Policy options are pretty limited.

              So let’s talk about this country, as we’ve been doing.

              In this country, well, I think the high-salience police shootings, if not actually causing high rates of homicide in some cities, preclude effectively implementing a lot of solutions. And really, the idea that it’s just (or primarily) white progressives who are angry about this doesn’t hold up to scrutiny much at all. Police killings in Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, et c., have been met with incredible (and IMO entirely understandable) anger from the African American communities in those cities.

              Turn it around a bit, and it’s perhaps easy to see why. All that police presence, and harassment, and abuse [1] hasn’t stopped the murders! Yet those same murders are being used to deflect attention from (or even justify) additional murders committed by the police.

              That is, to coin a phrase, pretty fucked up.

              [1] @inmd is correct that it’s the tip of the iceberg of a lot of other horrible shit the police do.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m just looking at the social objectivity of police action, and in this country we are putting a huge weight on a few dozen instances, while not mentioning 100s maybe 1000s of other instances going on down south. I will do so while expecting some one to say ‘whataboutism’, but that doesn’t fix the problem with social objectivity of what’s currently on the table.

                Also I didn’t say it is only white progressives who are angry. What I said up there was giving agency to the communities to figure it out without the (white?) progressives pulling the strings of ‘equality’ and ‘justice’.

                (which a layer deep is another reason to point at Nicaragua as there were people preaching equality and justice there years ago too, eventually to have snipers shipped in to shoot people in the streets).

                Are you against these folks having non-city, non-union, non-traditional police?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I’m not sure what the best approach there is. I’m skeptical that shifting away from non-city (and to a lesser extent non-union) police will help, but if there’s data suggesting otherwise I’d be happy to see it and re-evaluate.

                Also, the idea that white progressives are pulling the strings is… well, it’s not exactly in conformance with anything I’ve seen. As for “social objectivity”, well, perceptions (regardless of their objectivity) have a lot to do with how the public react to the police and vice versa.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m glad to hear that your open to releasing control of the police from the city.

                The argument I don’t like is:
                “these city police have been behaving badly!”
                “have you let the community do their own police thing?”
                “No, that will never work*!”

                I know this isn’t you, but there is sizeable faction out there.

                (*the reason it doesn’t work is it would go against underlying agendas)Report

              • Chris in reply to JoeSal says:

                There are two kinds of police abolitionists: those on the left and… shit, nevermind, I was wrong. There is only one kind of police abolitionist.

                (I, by the way, am an abolitionist. And lest the racist dude here get upset, contemporary left police and prison abolitionism was started and continues to be led by black women.)Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Chris says:

                -“assume a can opener”
                -“assume a well behaving social construct”Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                (approximate year: 1827)


                THEORISTS have told us that laws and governments are made for the security of person and property; but it must be evident to most minds, that they never have, never will accomplish this professed object; although they have had all the world at their control for thousands of years, they have brought it to a worse condition than that in which they found it, in spite of the immense improvements in mechanism, division of labor, and other elements of civilization to aid them. On the contrary, under the plausible pretext of securing person and property, they have spread wholesale destruction, famine, and wretchedness, in every frightful form over all parts of the earth, where peace and security might otherwise have prevailed. They have shed more blood, committed more murders, tortures, and other frightful crimes in the struggles against each other for the privilege of governing, than society ever would or could have suffered in the total absence of all governments whatever! It is impossible for any one who can read the history of governments, and the operations of laws, to feel secure in person and property under any form of government, or any code of laws whatever. They invade the private household, they impertinently meddle with, and in their blind and besotted wantonness, presume to regulate the most sacred individual feelings. No feelings of security, no happiness can exist in the governed under such circumstances. They set up rules or laws to which they require conformity, while conformity is impossible, and while neither rulers nor ruled can tell how the laws will be interpreted or administered! Under such circumstances, no security for the governed can exist.

                A citizen may be suddenly hurried away from his home and despairing family, shut up in a horrid prison, charged with a crime of which he is totally innocent; he may die in prison or on the gallows, and his family may die of mortification and broken hearts. No security can exist where this can happen; yet, all these are the operations of laws and governments, which are professedly instituted for the “security of person and property.”

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I’m skeptical of having communities police themselves without a more detailed and concrete plan [1], because I do agree with @dragonfrog in a sense: historical examples of that kind of self-policing are replete with communities that have a lot of long-running blood feuds and vendettas that often play out similarly to what we see in highly violent urban centers.

                And there are plenty of contemporary US cities where city-controlled and even unionized police don’t have high levels of violence like those you see in Baltimore.

                [1] IOW, “What exactly do you plan on doing, and why do you think it would work?”Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Do you think you can solve this in a ‘social engineering” sense?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I don’t have an unequivocal answer. I can think of things that I believe would tend to help, but that’s not entirely the same thing.Report

            • Chris in reply to JoeSal says:

              If you spend any time reading the anti-police violence internet, you’ll find that police violence in other countries is often discussed (Brazil is a favorite topic, where there is essentially a war going on between police and gangs, and the police have essentially become just another gang).Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Chris says:

                Oh, I’m tapped into some of the most extreme right-wing anti-police stuff that exists. In this particular area, Mike and I are probably very different.

                It doesn’t surprise me that a police construct would become another type of gang. My whole framework doesn’t start with:

                ‘expect this social construct to behave in accordance to the purpose it was created’

                I often consider that social constructs will eventually work in negative ways to the purpose it was originally created. I shook that whole ‘muh police!’ out of my brain when I realized socialism(of all kinds) will creep in and distort purpose.

                Therefore I will start out with skepticism of all of it. Even if the communities pick their own police force, I start with ‘it probably won’t work out so expect to burn it all down and start over in 20 years’. (But at least it will be theirs to burn.)Report

  8. Oscar Gordon says:

    FYI I am on holiday for the next week, so if I don’t comment much…Report

  9. Mike Dwyer says:

    I’ll just leave this link here for everyone. It’s worth watching the whole thing but the first 30 minutes are pretty interesting. Some key points:

    James McWhorter on white privilege as Original Sin

    James McWhorter on white problems as religion.

    Glenn Loury on black crime

    I think repeated conversations here and elsewhere unfortunately look a lot like the analogy to religion that McWhorter makes. If Far Left identity politics have in fact become the medieval church, then anyone who doesn’t agree with that dogma must be labeled as heretics (racists).Report

    • Jesse in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      Always amusing when conservatives trot our the same half a dozen black conservatives as proof that the real problem is “identity politics” as opposed to the hundred, if not thousands of black progressives and liberals who disagree with the notion and have written millions of words on the situation.

      But of course, white people in general have never been really good at actually listening to a majority of black people, but instead, are perfectly happy willing to listen to only to black people to what they want to hear.Report

      • Dark Matter in reply to Jesse says:

        The problem with using “the majority” as a measurement of truth is facts don’t always win popularity contests.Report

      • Mike Dwyer in reply to Jesse says:


        Several points:

        – There are 40.2 million blacks in the US. Of those, 7% identify as Republican and 13.7% identify as conservative. I’ll cut you some slack and we’ll just use the 7% number. That’s 2.8 million blacks that you just discounted.

        – You are welcome to review the qualifications of both the men I mentioned. Glenn Loury and John McWhorter are both pretty accomplished academics, neither of whom call themselves conservatives (I assume you labeled them that way because they don’t align with your views on race). You really should take the time to watch the whole video. Loury was born on the South side of Chicago. I’m more inclined to trust his opinion on these issues than say, yours or Sam’s or Chris, but feel free to suggest you guys know more.

        – According to the Hidden Tribes study, only 3% of progressives are black. Your subgroup is in fact the whitest of all political persuasions in the U.S. but yet you all have positioned yourselves as the experts on race. Progressives are so sure they know best on this topic that according to the same study, more of them think race is a problem than blacks actually do.

        – The Hidden tribes report says most blacks fall under the group of ‘Passive Liberals’. Here’s how the numbers break down regarding the statement “Many people nowadays don’t take racism seriously enough”.

        Progressive Activists 92% answered yes.
        Traditional Liberals 66% answered Yes.
        Passive Liberals 52% answered Yes.

        – Per Yascha Mounk, 79% of whites and 75% of blacks oppose political correctness. That is not to say that this aligns one-for-one with views on race, but it’s indicative of just how out of touch the Far Left has become.

        I think what all of this seems to indicate is that you are actually part of a very small, very white minority that is so immersed in identity politics, victimhood and white atonement that you feel comfortable dismissing the voices of two contrary black academics because they don’t align with your views on race. If you would watch the whole video and read the increasing number of classically liberal black writers who are beginning to push back on identity politics, you would hear over and over just how hard it is for them to have a voice because of people like you that marginalize them.

        I’ll just leave you with this, also from Yascha Mounk, because it’s good advice for people like yourself (emphasis mine):

        “The study should also make progressives more self-critical about the way in which speech norms serve as a marker of social distinction. I don’t doubt the sincerity of the affluent and highly educated people who call others out if they use “problematic” terms or perpetrate an act of “cultural appropriation.” But what the vast majority of Americans seem to see—at least according to the research conducted for “Hidden Tribes”—is not so much genuine concern for social justice as the preening display of cultural superiority

        The gap between the progressive perception and the reality of public views on this issue could do damage to the institutions that the woke elite collectively run. A publication whose editors think they represent the views of a majority of Americans when they actually speak to a small minority of the country may eventually see its influence wane and its readership decline. And a political candidate who believes she is speaking for half of the population when she is actually voicing the opinions of one-fifth is likely to lose the next election.

        In a democracy, it is difficult to win fellow citizens over to your own side, or to build public support to remedy injustices that remain all too real, when you fundamentally misunderstand how they see the world.”Report

        • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

          Progressive Activists are notably out of step with African Americans on the issue of police violence according to the Hidden Tribes survey you’re citing.

          95% of “Progressive Activists” agreed with the statement, “The police are often more violent towards African Americans than others,” but only… uh… 91% of African Americans said the same. Compare this with, say, the “very conservatives”, which has 20% agreeing that the police are more violent towards black people, and, well… what’s the point you were trying to make again?

          You also make a lot of the fact that African Americans tend to be “Passive Liberals”. Guess which tribe has the most negative views of the police:

          This number is partially mirrored by feelings about police officers, with colder feelings for law enforcement from the more liberal tribes, although the effect is not as extreme. The coldest feelings toward police officers are held by Passive Liberals, but only 12 percent have “very cold” feelings towards police officers (and 6 percent of Progressive Activists do).

          Or take a look at the plots on p. 104 and 105. Black people had the least positive views of police and the most positive views on Black Lives Matter. Indeed, African Americans are closer to “Progressive Activists” in their perceptions of cops (52% vs 48% positive) and BLM (75% vs 74% positive) than they are of any other group.

          The data provided in at least one of your own sources simply doesn’t support your theory. At all.

          Maybe you need a new theory.


          • Mike Dwyer in reply to pillsy says:


            When I am talking about progressives being out of touch I am talking more about broad issues of race/racism.

            With regards to feelings towards the police, it’s fairly well-documented how this increased significantly during the Obama years. I mean, prior to that administration Sam was mostly writing about chili recipes and vasectomies. If you watch the video I linked to they discuss how Obama encouraged the outrage machine of BLM instead of leading on the issue. That has a trickle down effect to the numbers you see today. So I am not discounting that data, but I do think the numbers have been effected by recent events. It also kind of makes my point if the numbers are that high based on 14 questionable shootings per year.Report

            • pillsy in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

              It’s plausible that it’s true on broader issues of race and racism. Progressive Activists, which is as good a term as any and a better term than most, tend to have rather elaborate theoretical and ideological conceptions of race that go well beyond, “Racism is a big problem for black people.”

              But seriously, police violence, based on the data you provided, is probably the worst possible example of the two being out of step with each other.

              Also, who do you think that the outrage “trickled down” to? If it went from Obama to PAs (which is how I read your comment), I’m not sure how that’s a failure of leadership! He led PAs to a perspective on the issue that aligned with that of one of his most important constituencies, and one that generally did acknowledge him as an important leader.

              Unless of course the issue is that you disagree with him, which seems like an odd point to focus on.

              As for whether the focus is disproportionate or not, lots of us have written a ton in this thread about why we don’t think it’s disproportionate. In the past you’ve complained at some length about how people (not least me) always want to talk about motivations instead of policy….Report

          • pillsy in reply to pillsy says:

            Argh. The blockquote was supposed to close after “…Progressive Activists do).”

            What I wouldn’t give for a longer edit window.Report

  10. Will Truman says:

    I don’t believe there is more to be gained in the commenting threads to this post, so I am shutting it down.Report