Sometimes even white privilege and actual proof isn’t enough.
Donald Trump’s appalling attacks on the press have been unprecedented and as president-elect he’s continuing down that path. Trump finally gave a press conference and it was bonkers. The president-elect refused to take a CNN reporter’s question and told him, “You are fake news!” After that, his staff of cheerleaders could be heard laughing and clapping.… Continue Reading →
FORT WORTH, Texas — The full version of a viral video showing a Fort Worth police officer arresting three women reveals more than 22 minutes of new footage from before the officer arrived and after the arrests. The full video, posted Friday on youtube.com, is almost 30 minutes long and does not reveal any major new… Continue Reading →
The FBI has released an incredibly lame statement explaining why, on today of all days, they felt compelled to dump a mostly-redacted set of documents concerning a 15-year old investigation into the Clinton Foundation online. Just in: statement from the FBI on its release of documents today pertaining to the Marc Rich/Bill Clinton inquiry pic.twitter.com/SLBEmxNjmM -… Continue Reading →
After being dark since 2015, the FBI account which tweets out record dumps they place online began tweeting this weekend after Comey’s letter went public. Through the weekend, the tweets were innocuous, but certainly ones that would garner some attention. Like these: FBI Seal Name Initials and Special Agent Gold Badge 0625D: https://t.co/3FuFJzcgwD – FBI Records… Continue Reading →
An investigative piece from The Intercept.
This man’s crime? Driving with a suspended license:
You can’t do that,” says Kevin Campbell on video captured inside the police lock-up on June 7, 2016.
“Yes, I can. Yes, I can,” says Allen Park Police Officer Daniel Mack.
“Why you putting your fingers in my [expletive]?? Why you feeling my [expletive],” says Campbell in the video.
“Cause you got [something] tucked into your [expletive],” said Mack.
This happened in Tulsa. They just shot him, for no good reason:
This is interesting, isn’t it?
Is distracted driving the new drunk driving? Numerous studies in the past few years have warned motorists of the dangers of driving while distracted – the most common distraction being texting.
Distracted driving kills over eight people per day and injures another 1,000, a phenomenon that has gradually increased over the last 10 years. Some even claim that texting while driving is just as bad as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In New York alone, texting while driving tickets have increased exponentially from 9,000 in 2011 to almost 85,000 in 2015. In light of recent efforts by anti-distracted driving activists, New York legislators have proposed a bill called Evan’s Law, named after young car accident victim who died in 2011 because the driver of the vehicle that hit him was distracted by his phone.
The new law would give police officers the authority to use new technology called a “Textalyzer” when they pull motorists over for suspected distracted driving.
Commonly referred to as “the new breathalyzer,” the Textalyzer was developed by the mobile forensics company Cellebrite, which uses a series of new technological developments to determine whether or not a motorist had been texting while driving.
In real time, an officer can plug a motorist’s phone into a laptop and use the system’s operating logs to determine whether or not the person was typing or tapping the phone’s screen at the time of a crash. The use of this new technology, legislators hope, will force motorists to think twice before pulling out their phones while driving.
The main concerns over the Textalyzer legislation surround privacy laws. Proponents of the Textalyzer insist that the device is programmed to only show if the phone was in use for texting at the time of an accident, not to access the owner’s photos, conversations, contacts, or other personal information.
However, some civil liberties groups, including the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), acknowledge the public safety issue regarding distracted driving, but say that the Textalyzer is “fraught with legal and practical problems.”
Other opponents of the bill say that there are less intrusive measures already in place to determine phone usage at the time of accidents, such as encrypting the phone or scanning the phone’s metadata.
Defense attorney Karin Riley Porter commented, “The proposed legislation and the advent of the Textalyzer are proof that distracted driving has become an enormous public safety issue in recent years. However, privacy laws are still a concern, and maintaining the balance between reducing distracted driving fatalities and protecting individual privacy will continue.”
I know many strong critics of the police. Many of them are affiliated with the
Black Lives Matter movement. None of them stand for ambushing police officers. I also know a few police officers and many prosecutors. Most of them are against racial profiling.
Now, it would be a false equivalence to say that Black Lives Matter activists and defenders of the police are in the same position.
Black Lives Matter activists are seeking changes in an institution – the criminal justice system – that has disproportionately targeted and killed people of color. These activists are disproportionately drawn from communities that have been marginalized based on their race, gender identity, sexual orientation and related issues.
In contrast, police officers are sworn to protect the public, even when they are the subject of criticism and protest. Police officers are also disproportionately drawn from relatively privileged segments of society: men and whites.
The recent controversy over policing has often been traced to racial bias, but it may stem in equal part from gender. I have spent a decade researching ways that race and gender intersect in policing and found that hidden police officer machismo is exacerbating the more commonly noticed problem of racial profiling.
Issues around masculinity
To bring about peace, we must first acknowledge that we have a problem.
The evidence that police officers target racial minority men for stops on suspicion of crime is overwhelming. This has been statistically proven in New York City racial profiling litigation. In a recent study, Harvard professor Roland G. Fryer Jr. also found racial bias in police uses of force. Additionally, in New York, as elsewhere, racial profiling of these types mostly happens to men.
“What’s masculinity got to do with it?”
By masculinity, I simply mean popular assumptions about what is manly behavior. For instance, men do not wear dresses, do not ask for directions and do not dance. Or so we are told.
If one is a man, or just wants to perform masculinity, one will be drawn toward the behaviors that are popularly understood to be manly. An important tendency of masculine behavior in the United States is to confront disrespect with violence.
In policing, this has meant punishing the “noncrime” of “contempt of cop” (offending a police officer) with trumped up charges of law-breaking or physical violence.
The recent killing of Philando Castile serves as one example of the way racial bias and police officer machismo work together.
Racial profiling was evident in the fact that police officers had stopped Castile at the borders between black and white neighborhoods in and around St. Paul, Minnesota. Castile was stopped at least 52 times over the course of a few years. Yet at least half of his citations were dismissed. That is an extraordinary number of stops, and an even more surprising number of dismissals.
Implicit in these excessive race-based stops is a macho stance that is especially prevalent amongst those who go into policing. First, perhaps because police forces often give preference to former members of the military, police officers are prone to bullying the suspects. It should be no surprise that more masculine men thrown into police forces patterned on the military are more prone to aggressive behavior.
Here are the consequences of this culture
To maintain face in the culture that prevails in many police departments, officers must meet any physical threat or even disobedience with violence. As the “Say Her Name” movement has pointed out, when police officers get macho, women of color may also become victims of their violence.
Police bullying of women can come in the forms of false charges, physical violence, or sexual assaults. For instance, former Oklahoma City police officer Daniel Holtzclaw was convicted of 18 counts of sexual offenses against African-American women.
Second, masculinity exacerbates racial profiling because young men of color are the boogeyman. They are the personification of danger in the eyes of much of the public and the police. That status stems from the U.S.’ long history of white supremacy and apartheid. Police officers may be both seeking to maintain their place in the male pecking order and genuinely afraid of men of color.
That is why the mention of a gun by a black man can lead a police officer to shoot first and question later. In the case of Castile, as an audio recording of the events later revealed, Castile’s “wide-set nose” got him pulled over. And being the subject of heightened fear – a black man with a gun – got him killed.
Of course, police officers are not a monolithic group. White police officers are not all explicitly, or even implicitly, biased against men of color. Many police officers are racial minorities themselves. Moreover, increasing percentages of police officers are women, whose presence has been connected to lessened police brutality.
Nonetheless, acknowledging that racial profiling and police officer machismo travel together is important, as it will require a different approach to fixing policing.
Way forward: deescalate
We cannot just observe the police through body cameras, for that will not stop police officers from feeling more threatened by men of color in the first place. Instead, we need to train police officers to acknowledge both that many of them have implicit biases against racial minorities and that they may feel more fearful of men of color than any other group.
As I think about how this proposal might become reality, I have the same advice for each side of the policing divide: deescalate.
To protesters against the police I say this: After Baton Rouge, rightly or wrongly, you will have to go first. Do not stop criticizing racial profiling and police officer machismo, but do unequivocally disavow shooting police officers.
To police officers I say this: You rightfully feel vulnerable, but do not ratchet up this conflict. Do not condone the idea advanced in some conservative quarters that the slaying of police officers means you must allow crime to rise. Honor your fallen comrades by doing your job even better.
In the day-to-day job, that means using deescalation techniques to turn potential conflicts into peaceful resolutions. Deescalating the overall conflict between police officers and protesters will not be easy, but it will be worth the effort.