The Ferguson Report: It’s Never About Race



ferguson-policeThis may not be a reign of terror, but it damn sure is a reign of unaccountable authoritarian power

Dear Ferguson — While clearing out his office, Attorney General Eric Holder found eric holdersomething that belongs to you. If you don’t mind, he’d like to hand you your ass.

Among the findings, reviewed by CNN: from 2012 to 2014, 85% of people subject to vehicle stops by Ferguson police were African-American; 90% of those who received citations were black; and 93% of people arrested were black. This while 67% of the Ferguson population is black. In 88% of the cases in which the Ferguson police reported using force, it was against African-Americans. traffic stopDuring the period 2012-2014 black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband. Blacks were disproportionately more likely to be cited for minor infractions: 95% of tickets for “manner of walking in roadway,” essentially jaywalking, were against African-Americans. Also, 94% of all “failure to comply” charges were filed against black people.

 I remember thinking, back when Mark Fuhrman helped blow up the O.J. trial, that if you allow racist goons to populate your police force, sooner or later, you’re going to bust somebody who’s rich enough to afford a lawyer to ensure that this practice bites you in a big way. The Fuhrman Reckoning has come to Ferguson. Which ought to surprise approximately nobody.

The investigators found evidence of racist jokes being sent around by Ferguson police and court officials. One November 2008 email read in part that President Barack Obama wouldn’t likely be President for long because “what black man holds a steady job for four years.” Another joke that made the rounds on Ferguson government email in May 2011 said: “An African American woman in New Orleans was admitted into the hospital for a pregnancy termination. Two weeks later she received a check for $3,000. She phoned the hospital to ask who it was from. The hospital said: ‘Crimestoppers.'”

(Before we go on, we should note that this humorous anecdote has a proud history in the polite precincts of the conservative intelligentsia. Here, for example, we see it in the comedy stylings of Bill “Sportin’ Life” Bennett.)

Let’s leave aside for a moment the obvious racial profiling inherent in these findings, the statistics on traffic-stop searches, for example. Imagine, for a moment, your daily life. jaywalkingDo you jaywalk? Do you walk in the street? Ever? Imagine that, two or three times a week, an armed police officer decides to involve himself in your life just because you jaywalk, or because you’re walking in the street. Imagine this happening, over and over again, for a decade. Or two. Or five. Imagine that the simple act of asking, “What’s the problem, officer?” is 94 percent more likely to wind up with you in handcuffs in the back of a patrol car. Imagine that the simple act of then asking, “Can you tell me what the problem is, officer?” is 88 percent more likely to get your head cracked, or worse? Imagine this happening in front of your kids, three or four times. Imagine this happening in front of your mother, your preacher, your girlfriend, your wife. Is this a life? Are you free? This may not be a reign of terror, but it damn sure is a reign of unaccountable authoritarian power.

Of course, there are the voices explaining that the facts in the Justice Department’s report are not About Race, because it’s never About Race.

“This is not the full report, and we need to be careful not to rush to judgment as we saw

 Jeff Roorda
Jeff Roorda

in August,” said Jeff Roorda, a former Missouri state representative and a spokesman for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. “We owe it, not just to law enforcement, but to Michael Brown, Tamir Rice and Eric Garner to figure out what’s really going on here so it can be addressed,” he said, referring to others killed by police officers in Cleveland and New York. “Reaching conclusions from statistics about traffic stops I don’t think draws the whole picture.”

Yeah, that’s the same Roorda who became famous as Darren Wilson’s most conspicuous knight errant after Wilson shot Michael Brown to death last summer. He’s a real sweetheart. And he has his own problems right now. But he’s not alone. Over at Breitbart’s Mausoleum For Sad Unemployables, they got a quote off Fox News out of extremely credible Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.

Eric Holder is using traffic stops, Megyn, simply because he can exploit that data. That’s the first thing that race hustlers jump to, is looking at traffic stops to make some sort of determination that some sort of racial impropriety’s going on here. If you’re a cop and you’re working in an area that is predominantly black, most of your field interview stops, most of your police contacts, your calls for service, and most of your traffic stops are going to involve black individuals. Officers don’t target, they don’t racially profile, they criminally profile.”

And the Wall Street Journal‘s Jason Riley stops by to explain that Holder wants to hamstring honest cops who are just trying to do the right thing, and maybe make Al Sharpton some money, and to placate the angry black people of the NAACP who can’t understand that black people who encounter Ferguson’s men in blue are 88 percent more likely to deserve to be roughed up. He calls on an expert on how things are never About Race for some learned counsel.

“This is about expanding federal power in the police departments,” said Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department attorney, in an interview. “The lawyers at Justice believe they are the ones who should be promulgating national standards of how cops should behave. And police departments are so afraid of bad publicity that they agree to settle the case with all kinds of rules that Justice wants to impose.”

Mr. von Spakovsky’s usual field of expertise in how things are never About Race concerns his expertise in developing voter-suppression techniques to suit the new Jim Crow in conjunction with John Roberts’ declaration of the Day Of Jubilee. Maybe Hans is branching out into criminal justice. In any case, “former Justice Department attorney” hardly suffices as a description of his career in the burgeoning field of how things are never About Race.

And, inevitably, there is the longtime white-supremacist journal, National Review, the pioneer in explaining how things are never About Race, not even racism.

The New York Times also notes that black drivers in Ferguson were twice as likely to be searched, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to turn up contraband. Again, such a statistic is meaningless unless one knows the underlying rate at which black and white drivers had outstanding warrants – which will trigger a search – and what their behavior was upon being stopped.

Black people are basically de facto criminals, and the police are simply doing the best they can. And, dammit, that joke about abortions being Crimestoppers is funny, amirite?

right leaning mediaThere is a growing industry in explaining to America how nothing ever is About Race. People get wealthy doing it. People get famous doing it. There are entire news channels and publications dedicating a great deal of time and effort in proving the case that it’s never About Race. And, somewhere in the country, someone is crossing against the light, and the odds that this person will wind up dead on the street are not anywhere near equal. If that’s not About Race, then it’s about an ungovernable country.

Police and their abuse of power

I saw a title, referring to the story that appears below, that said ‘Never, Never Call the Cops For “Help” Unless You’re Willing to Risk Someone Being Shot and Killed’ and that’s what happened in this story. It is a travesty of justice that an American was arrested for being at his own home, as was the case for Henry Louis Gates but being shot and killed by police in your home because relatives wanted the police to perform a ‘welfare check’ is incomprehensible.

James Howard Allen
James Howard Allen

When James Howard Allen’s family members asked police to stop by his home for a welfare check on Saturday, they were hoping authorities could help ensure he was safe.

Instead, their request set in motion a series of unlikely events that resulted in the 74-year-old North Carolina man’s death.

Allen was killed by an officer’s bullet, the result of a confrontation that occurred when officers from the Gastonia Police Department entered his home and found Allen, an Army veteran, pointing a handgun at them.

Now, relatives want answers, and two official investigations are underway.

“I am so hurt that he had to die like this,” Allen’s sister, Mary Battle, told ABC affiliate WSOC. “Maybe the police were frightened. Maybe they were. I don’t know. But he wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

Gastonia Police DepartmentGastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said at a news conference that police were initially dispatched to the home around 10:20 p.m. on Saturday,according to the Charlotte Observer. When nobody answered the door, the officers left and were asked to perform a check of local hospitals in search of Allen.

At 11:30 p.m., after officers failed to locate him, police returned to Allen’s residence with local fire officials, according to the Observer.

“A decision was made to enter the house, concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance,” said Helton, the police chief.

Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers
Gastonia Police Officer Josh Lefevers

Before entering through the back door, Officer Josh Lefevers announced his presence, Helton said. Once inside, Lefevers encountered Allen, who was pointing a handgun at him.

“He was challenged to lower the gun down,” Helton said at a news conference. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers, and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”

Why did police feel the need to enter?

Authorities had been made aware that Allen recently underwent heart surgery, Helton said, according to the Gaston Gazette, and were “concerned that he may be inside in need of emergency assistance.”

Lefevers was placed on administrative leave while police conduct their own investigation, according to the Observer. The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation is conducting a separate investigation into the shooting.

Allen’s family members are demanding more information. His brother-in-law, Robert Battle, told WSOC that Allen “probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.

A friend, Otis Thompson, said he can understand why Allen a gun in his hand.

“You kicked the man’s door in,” he told the station. “He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home; my first reaction would be to grab a gun, too.”

I have more than a few questions swirling in my head, like why did the police enter from the back and not the front of the house, how many times did officer Lefevers identify himself to Allen upon entering the home…….waking someone up from their sleep in the middle of the night is disorienting for anyone, least of all someone living alone and recovering from major surgery; was the officer’s gun drawn when he encountered Mr. Allen, was he in uniform, plainclothes or wearing the military style police uniform we’ve all become so used to seeing police wearing; what duty did the officer have to retreat versus the legal occupant of the home? I could perhaps come up with a few more.  Bottom line, the welfare check involving the police had a predictable outcome. The welfare of Mr. Allen is he is deceased at the hands of the police.  Take note America and don’t call the police if you don’t want anyone killed.

The Last Word- Gates, Crowley and Police

copI am going to let this be the last post on the unfortunate circumstances surrounding the Henry L. Gates confrontation with Cambridge Police, by saying Crowley lied in his police report using the inflammatory assertion he was sent to the house to look for two black men carrying back packs, using all the frightful  imagery he could to justify his illegal arrest of Gates.  Police officers are not accustomed to people who assert their rights; they prefer people who are cooperative or acquiesce to the abuse which comes with the power of yielding a badge and a gun.   Someone in the comments sections of another post here at Miscellany101. com asked why didn’t the black officer present for Gates’ arrest “represent”, and the answer quite simply is because that black officer sees himself in much the same way as the white officer, who thinks civilians are always suspect no matter who they are or what they have or have not done.  I would hazard a guess that there are very few if any officers on the Cambridge police who would go out on a limb and say what Crowley did was wrong because it would literally be professional suicide.  Their lives depend on whether they have the support of one another, either during encounters with civilians or procedurally, doing paper work that makes false assertions like being called to a home break-in looking for two black men.  An officer like Crowley can have a very successful career with such sloppy police work because he has had the help or the backing of other officers who covered up his abuse.   Unfortunately, such attitude is more common than we may think.

Have you seen the latest about a Boston Police officer who referred to Gates as a “banana eating jungle monkey”?  Obviously you can have any opinion you want of someone, but doing so without expecting any reaction is the height of chutzpah.  Indeed in his missive regarding Gates,  officer Justin Barrett claims he would pepper spray Gates for a verbal barrage he, Barrett,  himself makes without fear of reprisal.  This is the problem with the police; they demand a deferential attitude from civilians who risk the wrath of the State  by way of brutality or  arrest if such deference is not forthcoming to the satisfaction of police.  So this is what Barrett says,

his (Gates) first priority of effort should be go get off the phone and comply with police, for if I was the officer he verbally assaulted like a banana-eating jungle monkey I would have sprayed him in the face with OC deserving of his belligerent non-compliance.

It’s clear from this quote Barrett doesn’t understand his role as a law officer in relation to the public; instead he places himself the arbiter of the law who exacts punishment as he sees fit.  Barrett was also a member of the National Guard and a veteran and those roles played a part in shaping his attitudes towards members of the public.   While it is not a very intelligent thing to do, writing a media outlet with such overt language, it’s equally not smart to allow yourself to be identified as a member of the police department where you live and the Boston Police department has reacted swiftly, as did Barrett’s National Guard unit, both suspending him pending administrative review.  Good; perhaps Barrett doesn’t need to be in a position where he has to interact with a public he thinks “owes” him and not the law compliance.  However, even if Barrett was not exposed to the public officially he still has issues which make him an anachronism in today’s world.  His letter is directed towards a Boston Globe writer who he calls a “fool” and an “infidel”.  Earlier in the same letter he rhetorically asks if that same writer is still in the 5th grade in Catholic school.  Does that mean Barrett thinks Catholics are infidels or is the “infidel” remark a throwback to the days when he was serving in the military fighting the war on terror and infidels the world over?   Barrett’s world, and I think he has found a home among police officers in the Boston police department, is an encapsulated world where everyone on the inside is good, an “us” and everyone on the outside is bad, evil, against us, and there are no limits to fighting these against us elements who are fools, banana-eating jungle monkeys and infidels.

Our leaders led this charge back so many years ago…….2001 to be precise and they used the same kind of language as Barrett with no consequences for it.  In fact they may still enjoy a public following and there’s no reason to believe a cadre of supporters like Barrett and fellow law enforcement officers who emulate the “attitude” and language of those leaders in the past don’t think they are similarly entitled to do and say the same things AND get away with it!  I was also struck by his xenophobia, towards women, apparent with his remark how the writer should stay home and make him breakfast on Sunday mornings.  While such comments are harmless they show a callous regard to people he doesn’t know, and it is this type of person, an unknown, a stranger who Barrett would most likely would come in contact with as a police officer.  Would he be as callous in discharging his duties towards such a person, like Gates?  Most likely.

Finally Barrett sees nothing wrong with what he wrote; indeed he says that he’s not a racist and most likely believes that.  In an apology he made in response to the aforementioned letter, Barrett again claims he’s no racist and that he treats everyone with respect.  What’s chilling about that is a similar pronouncement was made about Sgt. James Crowley, that  he’s not racist and he teaches others about racial profiling in the police department and this total disconnect from reality, on the one hand one can spew the most specifically targeted racist infective yet claim he/it is not racist is what is surreal about the entire Gates-Crowley-Barrett-police force episode.  Just because you teach racial profiling to a department of like minded people doesn’t make you immune from the affliction, and likewise,  the mere announcement one is not a racist doesn’t mean it’s so, or that you can’t be a bad public servant who shouldn’t be turned loose on the public.