Tag Archives: race relations

Police Killed Nearly 1,000 Civilians in 2015

by Jared Keller, Pacific Standard, 12/29/15

Is there hope for next year?

Quintonio LeGrier was murdered on Saturday.

The 19-year-old engineering student was shot and killed by Chicago police officers, according to ABC 7 Chicago, after cops responded to a call around 4:30 a.m from LeGrier’s father saying his son was “acting crazy” and waving a baseball bat. LeGrier wasn’t the responding officers’ only victim; Bettie Jones, a 55-year-old anti-violence activist, mother of five, and LeGreir’s downstairs neighbor, was caught in the crossfire and killed. “An innocent lady got shot as well, because the police were trigger happy,” LeGrier’s mother, Janet Cooksey, told reporters. “I went to the hospital. My son has seven bullet holes in him.” Amid the subsequent public outrage, beleaguered Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has quickly called for police reform.

This is by now a tragically familiar story. As of December 24, police officers have fatally shot 965 Americans this year, according to a Washington Post tally. Of those 965, only 564 were armed with guns; about 90 were totally unarmed. While the Post found that white police officers shooting unarmed black men—incidents that have sparked ongoing protests in cities across the United States—represented fewer than four percent of total fatal police shootings in 2015, “Race remains the most volatile flash point in any accounting of police shootings,” the Post authors write. “Although black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year.”…

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Filed under Guns, violence, crime, Peace, Security, Terrorism, War

On the Perennial Nature of U.S. Urban Riots – An Analysis (9 May 2015)

by Lawrence Davidson, To The Point Analyses

Part I – Almost Normal

If one goes to Wikipedia under the subject of “mass racial violence in the United States,” one will find a “timeline of events” running from 1829 to 2015. There are so many race-related riots listed for these 186 years that, from a historical point of view, rioting appears almost normal. Prior to World War II these outbreaks mostly involved ethnic, racial or religious groups going after each other: Germans, Italians, Poles, Jews, Hispanics, African-Americans, Chinese, Catholics, Protestants were all involved in these set-tos. Often the causes were economic with a territorial overtone – one group moving into the neighborhood of another group and/or taking their jobs. When the violence came, it was group against group.

In the post-World War II era, the nature of the still numerous instances of rioting changed. The group-versus-group scenario gave way to group-versus-state. Most of the categories listed above had successfully assimilated under the heading “caucasian,” and religious affiliations no longer seemed worth bloody murder. Immigrants could/can still instill anger in citizens who mistake foreigners for the cause of problems they themselves have caused, but the result, of late, has rarely been rioting.

Actually, in the present era, the cause of rioting has mostly been black resentment over prevailing inequality: why the distribution of wealth seems never to work to satisfy the needs of African- American poor. Thus all too many African-Americans, particularly men, have little opportunity for a decent life, while simultaneously having every opportunity to end up in confrontations with the police and then land in prison. It is these ubiquitous confrontations with agents of the state that are now the standard trigger to the phenomenon of modern American rioting….

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Filed under Lawrence Davidson, Race, Ethnicity, Immigration, Rights, Justice, Law

The most ‘prejudiced’ states

from “The Formula Behind the Voting Rights Act,” New York Times, 6/22/13 (showing theoretical ways in which the Voting Rights Act could be revised to protect voting rights):

The most ‘prejudiced’ states

The most prejudiced states

At least 75% of non-blacks more prejudiced than the U.S. average

Law professors at the University of California, Davis, and the University of Connecticut have created an estimate of prejudice using survey data from 2008.

The National Annenberg Election Survey asked people to rank the intelligence, trustworthiness and work effort of different groups of people, on a scale from 0 to 100. Christopher S. Elmendorf and Douglas M. Spencer estimated prejudice based on how people rate their own ethnic group, compared with how they rate blacks.

“It may be argued that Virginia and perhaps South Carolina should not be covered, but the rest of the covered states in the Deep South top the list of the most prejudiced states by anti-black stereotyping,” the professors found.

[The full report, “The Geography of Discrimination in Voting: MRP Meets the VRA,” by Christopher S. Elmendorf and Douglas M. Spencer, May 9, 2013, can be downloaded at Social Science research Network]

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Filed under Race, Ethnicity, Immigration

Elaine Brown and the Black Panther movement

by Nathaniel Smith, Politics: A View from West Chester, 5/28/13

There are whole chapters of US history that most of us have forgotten or haven’t even opened yet—which is unfortunate, because the past is all we have to learn from.

From early 20th century social agitation and progress in workers’ rights (see “The 1911 Triangle Fire, other disasters, and progressive eras,” 5/21/13), we can learn that the 1960′s were not the only progressive era and, in fact, that it could be time for another to begin soon. From the aftermath of the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, we learn that horrendous industrial death tolls can force the hands of profit-makers–though not yet, apparently, in Bangladesh, which seems to have just set the world record for factory deaths in one incident (“Killing workers: business and consumption as usual?“).

And from Elaine Brown, we can learn the day-to-day details of what happens when a segment of the population feels so alienated that it tries to take the power it wants into its own hands. Having a shot at power is why many early immigrants came here, and was an old American tradition by the time of the revolution in 1776 and Shays’ Rebellion of 1786-87. The system reacts quickly; the results reverberate for a long time.

Elaine Brown, A Taste of Power: A Black Woman’s Story (New York: Pantheon Books, 1992) is a testimony of rare frankness about her personal life, surrounded by shootouts, violence against women, violence against men, drug abuse, sex for power, and power for sex.

Before I get launched here, I want to make clear that I am not necessarily approving Brown’s and the Black Panthers’ actions, goals and methods 30+ years ago (which Brown herself renounced). Rather, I am looking into about them as a way of understanding the American past and what paths have led wherever we are going. Some of the issues raised—inequality, racism, violence, the separatist impulse—are old and ongoing ones that all of us should be thinking about.

Somewhere, perhaps at my favorite book fair in Harrisonburg VA, I picked up a copy of her book (it’s probably not in your local library, but you can buy it online). The cover image of the iconic black panther snarling or bounding to attack caught my attention because it was prominent in the late 1960s, and I still possess a T-shirt bearing that image, twinned with the Yale bulldog….

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Filed under History, Nathaniel Smith, Race, Ethnicity, Immigration