Given Their Crime Rate, Blacks Are Understopped

Unlike Barry, the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald actually knows something about crime and the police.

An excerpt:

…Obama does not seem to understand the power of his office. If he is going to weigh in on something as crucial to the health of cities as policing, he had better get his facts straight. But everything that he said about the Cambridge confrontation was untrue. He presents a highly telescoped version of the events that echoes Gates’s implication that he was arrested on the burglary charge: “The Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home,” Obama intoned. But Gates was arrested for disorderly conduct; his being in his own home is irrelevant.

Obama then decided he was going to give us a history lesson: “What I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there’s a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately. That’s just a fact.”

This statement has many possible meanings, all of them untrue.

The ACLU and other anti-police activists have alleged for years that blacks are the victims of disproportionate and unjustified traffic stops, a charge that has become received wisdom among large swathes of the population. It happens to be contradicted by drivers themselves. The Bureau of Justice Statistics regularly polls tens of thousands of civilians about their contacts with the police. Virtually identical proportions of white, black, and Hispanic drivers — 9 percent — report being stopped by the police, though in 2005, the self-reported black stop rate — 8.1 percent — was nearly a percentage point lower than the self-reported white stop rate (8.9 percent). The stop rate for blacks is lower during the day, when officers can more readily see a driver’s race.

As for urban policing — where the police have victim identifications and contextual and behavioral cues to work with — blacks are stopped more, but only in comparison with their proportion of the entire population. Measured against their crime rate, they are understopped. New York City is perfectly typical of the black police-stop and crime rates. In the first three months of 2009, 52 percent of all people stopped for questioning by the police in New York City were black, though blacks are just 24 percent of the population. But according to the victims of and witnesses to crime, blacks commit about 68 percent of all violent crime in the city. Blacks commit 82 percent of all shootings and 72 percent of all robberies, whereas whites, who make up 35 percent of the city’s population, commit about 5 percent of all violent crimes, 1 percent of shootings, and about 4 percent of robberies.

These figures are not police-generated; they come from the overwhelmingly minority victims of crime in their reports to the police. Such crime reports mean that when the police respond to community demands for protection against crime, information-based police deployment will send officers to minority neighborhoods where crime is highest. When the police respond to a call about a shooting, they will almost never be told that the shooter was white, and thus will not be searching for a white suspect.

National crime patterns are the same. Black males between the ages of 18 and 24 commit homicide at ten times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. Such vastly disproportionate crime rates must lead, if the police are going after crime in a color-blind fashion, to disproportionate stop and arrest rates. To criticize the police for crime-determined enforcement activity is to blame the messenger…

And Mark Steyn:

By common consent, the most memorable moment of Barack Obama’s otherwise listless press conference on “health care” were his robust remarks on the “racist” incident involving professor Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police. The latter “acted stupidly,” pronounced the chief of state. The president of the United States may be reluctant to condemn Ayatollah Khamenei or Hugo Chávez or that guy in Honduras without examining all the nuances and footnotes, but sometimes there are outrages so heinous that even the famously nuanced must step up to the plate and speak truth to power. And thank God the leader of the free world had the guts to stand up and speak truth to municipal police Sgt. James Crowley.

For everyone other than the president, what happened at professor Gates’ house is not entirely clear. The Harvard prof returned home without his keys and, as Obama put it, “jimmied his way into the house.” A neighbor, witnessing the “break-in,” called the cops, and things, ah, escalated from there. Professor Gates is now saying that, if Sgt. Crowley publicly apologizes for his racism, the prof will graciously agree to “educate him about the history of racism in America.” Which is a helluva deal. I mean, Ivy League parents remortgage their homes to pay Gates for the privilege of lecturing their kids, and here he is offering to hector it away to some no-name lunkhead for free.

As to the differences between the professor’s and the cops’ version of events, I confess I’ve been wary of taking Henry Louis Gates at his word ever since, almost two decades back, the literary scholar compared the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew to those of the Bard of Avon. “It’s like Shakespeare’s ‘My love is like a red, red rose,'” he declared, authoritatively, to a court in Fort Lauderdale.

As it happens, “My luv’s like a red, red rose” was written by Robbie Burns, a couple of centuries after Shakespeare. Oh, well. 16th century English playwright, 18th century Scottish poet: What’s the diff? Evidently being within the same quarter-millennium and right general patch of the North-East Atlantic is close enough for a professor of English and Afro-American Studies appearing as an expert witness in a court case. Certainly no journalist reporting Gates’ testimony was boorish enough to point out the misattribution.

I hasten to add I have nothing against the great man. He’s always struck me as one of those faintly absurd figures in which the American academy appears to specialize, but relatively harmless by overall standards…

But what of our post-racial president? After noting that “‘Skip’ Gates is a friend” of his, President Obama said that “there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.” But, if they’re being “disproportionately” stopped by African American and Latino cops, does that really fall under the category of systemic racism? Short of dispatching one of those Uighur Muslims from China recently liberated from Gitmo by Obama to frolic and gambol on the beaches of Bermuda, the assembled officers were a veritable rainbow coalition. The photograph of the arrest shows a bullet-headed black cop – Sgt. Leon Lashley, I believe – standing in front of the porch while behind him a handcuffed Gates yells accusations of racism. This is the pitiful state the Bull Connors of the 21st century are reduced to, forced to take along a squad recruited from the nearest Benetton ad when they go out to whup some uppity Negro boy.

As professor Gates jeered at the officers, “You don’t know who you’re messin’ with.” Did Sgt. Crowley have to arrest him? Probably not. Did he allow himself to be provoked by an obnoxious buffoon? Maybe. I dunno. I wasn’t there. Neither was the president of the United States, or the governor of Massachusetts or the mayor of Cambridge. All of whom have declared themselves firmly on the side of the Ivy League bigshot. And all of whom, as it happens, are African American. A black president, a black governor and a black mayor all agree with a black Harvard professor that he was racially profiled by a white-Latino-black police team, headed by a cop who teaches courses in how to avoid racial profiling. The boundless elasticity of such endemic racism suggests that the “post-racial America” will be living with blowhard grievance-mongers like professor Gates unto the end of time…

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