City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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By Heather Mac Donald, Victor Davis Hanson and Steven Malanga

The Immigration Solution.

By Heather Mac Donald

Are Cops Racist?

Eye on the News

Heather Mac Donald
No, the Cops Didn’t Murder Sean Bell
And here’s what decent black advocates would say.
4 December 2006

Selected Responses:

Sent by Joe on 01-13-2007:

I agree with Suzanna, she sounds so intelligent. By calling the author a "cracker" and accusing her of "white lies" she really proves her point that it's white people who are racist. She also makes a really good point by urging the author to research her facts. If the author would have taken Suzanna’s insightful criticism to heart she may have discovered for herself that "police departments are targeted to kill and racial profile black people." A claim that was obviously fact-based and meticulously researched. Suzanna also correctly points out that due to "white skin privilege" we crackers get away with such things as murder and fraud—every day no less. (I personally defrauded 4 people just yesterday!) In summation, I hope the author has been influenced by these poignant remarks and in the future she’ll keep her "white, cracker, bitch" lies to a minimum.

Sent by Suzanna on 01-04-2007:

Bitch you have the nerve. You must be white also to say such outrageous white lies. Anyway how many white random fatal shootings can you count of your hands with a white male unarmed none. You think and breathe like a racist. NYPD like all other police departments are targeted to kill and racial profile black people. Is it because blacks are criminals and crackers are innocent? No, it's simply because this is a racist society which refuses to deny it. Crackers get away with murder, lies, fraud every day because of white skin privilege. Wherever you went to school or got your "facts" from are pure white lies. Bitch research before writing dumb shit on the internet.

Sent by Mike on 12-29-2006:

I would like to thank Ms. Mac Donald for an intuitive and thoughtful article regarding the Sean Bell shooting. Being a supervisor in the NYPD with 16 years of experience, most in a very high crime neigborhood, I can fully understand the catch-22 that police officers are faced with every day. Over 13,000 lives can be attributed to the hard work of the NYPD.

Maybe we should go back to the days of Mayor Dinkins where street arrests were frowned upon and aggressive officers were punished. There is a saying in the NYPD: there are cops and then there are the police. To be labled the latter means that you as a police officer go and aggressively pursue criminals. Cops wait in their patrol cars or foot post or some other administrative assignment until they are told to do something. When they do take action it is in a slow and deliberate way so as to ensure that they will not have to take any police action. These members of the department love to take pride in the accomplishments of the NYPD, though they have done little to forward the effort. Without officers such as those involved in the Bell shooting, who put their lives on the line for communities that don't care, the City would not be the safest big city in the world.

Sent by Chuck Knight on 12-27-2006:

Thank you for this article. As a police officer who has been shot at four times and has never shot back, I am glad to hear someone address the facts and not the emotions.

Sent by Stella on 12-11-2006:

I just read all the responses to this article. Of course the girl from Jamaica threatens the life of the woman who wrote this article. Can't people have opinions? I just can't believe this nonsense!

Sent by Goodeness357 on 12-08-2006:

Unlike everyone else that has responded thus far, I am in agreement with the fact that our black advocates have failed to make a "call to action" for black on black crimes that affect our communities on a much larger scale than police misconduct. I also agree with the fact that the police are concentrated in black and minority areas because that is where most crimes happen. We do it to ourselves, no police, black leaders, or news cameras there to capture the horror! As a black woman, am I supposed to get along with a criminal just because he/she is black too? No! He/she will rob/rape/kill me just as easily as they would anyone else.

You made some good points about the phenomena that black advocates ignore, but you cannot ignore the obvious abuse of police power in the Bell case, and many others like it. It's not your place to define the decency of a black advocate and since the fact of the matter is that you are not black, you have a unique point of view about this tragedy. However, you don't know about the way officers interact with minorities, so you shouldn't comment on it. Police take a "one bad apple spoiled the barrel" approach to dealing with minorities in this country. We commit most of the crimes, so as a law of average, most of us are no good. As a black woman in Texas, I know of what I speak . . . do you?

Sent by Eric Daniels on 12-07-2006:

Your typical silly defense of cops and black crime to violate the human rights of black males like myself or my cousins and nephews to support your white racialist agenda is going to lead to more racial violence in the future. I promise you if any cop knowingly kills anyone in my law abiding family they will die, I don't care what color they are.

Sent by Keith Thomas on 12-07-2006:

Typical right wing bullshit. 50 shots? No way if these cops (who cares what their race is) were in a white neighborhood would they have fired 50 times. You obviously are a racist and to you black lives don't matter.

Sent by Bryon Smith on 12-07-2006:

It never fails that in a case such as this, there is always a flurry of articles such as this one, in which black people are admonished for daring to state what is painfully obvious.

Anyone would have to be blind not to see a pattern here.

When was the last time an unarmed white person was shot for no reason? That is the last thing white people have to worry about (another example of white skin privilege), but it is something blacks must be constantly aware of.

Your article also states that the police identified themselves, and then one was hit by their vehicle, which is inconsistent with a witness who reported seeing the van crash into the car first, then seeing the officers get out, and the shooting subsequently took place. And regardless of the record of anyone in the car, the police had no previous knowledge of it. Furthermore, police cannot shoot inside of a moving car, and a car is not considered a lethal weapon (that's in the police manual).

I always tell my friends that the white police officers are no different than the white people who lock their car doors, grab their handbags, leap out of elevators, or cross the street when they see a black person (I have had all of those things happen to me while wearing a Brooks Brothers suit). The difference is that they have guns and badges, so that when they get scared, they KILL you, and their badges protect them from having to assume any responsibility for their actions.

It remains to be seen if Bloomberg will pull a "Giuliani," and send the trial to some upstate county where a cop would have to rob a bank, film it himself, and then confess in order to get a parking ticket, but frankly, I believe that is exactly what will ultimately happen.

Sent by Zyianna on 12-07-2006:

You are a stupid bitch who needs to get fucked up if you come to jamaica with that dumb shit he was murdered and why are the other witnesses saying the same thing they never said they were the police I would love a chance to whip your ass for this dumb shit right here please come to the rally at Macys and tell us who you are so we can stop the life out you ok.

Sent by Samantha King on 12-06-2006:

The police have been turning a blind eye to the ghetto for years, and if this is their way of showing us they care, I would rather take my chances without their assistance. Why don't we hear about stuff like this happening in Nassau County? Suffolk County? Westchester County? Or any other surburban townships?

Yes, people in the ghetto (as you have referred to it) want protection from drug dealers and thugs, but when we have to consider protecting our children from them as well as the NYPD it becomes very scary and very frustrating.

This was the type of tragedy that should NEVER occur.

Sent by Robert Hammock on 12-06-2006:

I recently retired after 30 years with a sheriff's office in the St. Pete/Clearwater, Florida area. Although our metro area pales in size to your hometown, we still have the same type of issues on a smaller scale. The St. Pete Times, a mirror of the NY Times, also stirs the racial pot when it's convenient for their purpose. You speak about the holy Rev. Jesse Jackson. This area had to endure the Terri Schiavo debacle a couple of years ago and if I didn't know which side of the live or die fence I was on, all it took was for him to arrive on the scene and my quandary was settled.

I will have to admit that I am really disappointed in Mayor Bloomberg's immediate rush to judgment about these police officers that were doing a very difficult job. I can tell you that when a law enforcement officer's chain of command does not support his actions until all the facts are known, serious damage can be done to the desire of these officers and others to continue the job they were sworn to do. Thank you again for your eloquent article and keep up the good work.

Sent by George Jackson on 12-06-2006:

I have to admit that after reading some of your article on whether or not the cops are racist, I was somewhat on the fence about hoping that the cops who killed that man were sent to prison, and raped by large black men for the next 20 years of their lives. Then I was curious as to what you looked like.

Now I may just be making an assumption here, but I'm willing to bet my paycheck that you don't know shit about getting pulled over, cuffed, and sat on a curb all without reason. I don't think you would know shit about being stopped and frisked for no reason. I'm also going to assume you've never been talked to like you were less than a person just because that certain cop was having a bad day.

I wear a badge and I know just what type of racial, oral sewage comes out of the mouths of the city's finest. I am embarrassed to don my shield.

And finally, shame on you for trying to determine what and what is not a decent black advocate. You don't know shit about what being black is about. I wouldn't give a fuck if your husband was black or you have mixed children. You are still white as you were at birth.

In closing I would like to say the NYPD did us very proud on 9/11 but is an utter disgrace and embarrassment to the fine state of New York. This is not the first incident of its kind in NYC and I'm sure it won't be the last. So fuck the NYPD, and fuck you for supporting them.

Sent by Dwayne Robertson on 12-06-2006:

I just love how you, a middle class white female, think you can explain all the social ills of black America, and ignore the fact that the police would NEVER fire 50 shots at an unarmed white man. I also love the fact that you write about the shooting as if you were an actual witness, and also ignore the fact that the NYPD is prone to lying and covering up the facts of such incidents.

Sent by Sean McMahon on 12-05-2006:

Thank you for an eloquent, well-reasoned published view. Having been a Narcotics Platoon Commander I know all too well what those five were feeling that night. They were doing their best to do a righteous job, but fate just took over. Everything that could go wrong for them did.

Sent by Dennis on 12-05-2006:

Leaders concerned about civil rights need to choose their fights more carefully than they tend to do. Crying wolf too often dilutes their effectiveness as leaders. Of course no one in America wants to see injustice, and we hate to have the innocent accidentally killed, but the Sean Bell case does not fit the profile of innocence inasmuch as a car is a deadly weapon and was used against the undercover cop, and because the passengers could have stopped and cooperated and ended the incident without bloodshed. The cops wanted to stop them, not kill them. The cops are charged with protecting citizens and disarming those that pose a threat to citizens. If they did not do this in black areas, the leadership would say that this means blacks living in these areas are expendable and the politicians do not care about them enough to try to protect them. To call off the cops because of the kind of killing that happened here, as tragic as it was, is nowhere near what would happen if the cops stopped trying to prevent crimes from happening in those dangerous areas. The death rate of blacks would no doubt go much higher if the cops were to drop their efforts in those areas. Leaders should keep this in mind before discouraging efforts that work, on balance, in favor of saving lives in these black areas.

Sent by John Andy on 12-05-2006:

A giant thank-you from myself and the rest of the law enforcement community, which does a thankless job in order to try and make sure everyone goes home at night and to their families, even if it means we do not.

Sent by Robert Irvin on 12-04-2006:

As a retired police officer who killed a felon who had shot me I applaud your article. These people who are putting out all the hot air have no idea what they are talking about having never "been there." They can run their mouths 'til the sky falls and they won't approach the quality of your article. They have never felt the fear in the pit of their stomach when someone was shooting at them trying to take their life or the sick feeling in the pit of their stomach at the realization they have just taken someone's life to save their own. They are all pathetic individuals who shouldn't be capitalizing on misfortune! If they really want to help they need to do as you have suggested in your article. They won't . . . there aren't any headlines in doing that!

Sent by Kimberly Robinson on 12-04-2006:

I have waited and waited for a response to come out like this. As the mother of a son who has participated strongly in the Police Explorers Program, is soon to join the Air Force in the Security Forces branch, and wants to retire as a police officer, I praise your response to this situation. Why would anyone, including my son, want to become a police officer? They are attacked constantly and most are racially motivated attacks. If a police officer is doing his job, and in the blink of a moment has to stop and think "Is this person black or white," someone is going to die . . . him or the other person. I don't want my son to have to think about race. I want him to protect the community and himself, and not have to stop and think if doing so is going to cost him his job and/or his life.

Jackson and Sharpton pick what gets them in the spotlight. If Sean Bell had been white, they would be nowhere to be found. Who really is making this racial? Black or white, these officers need to be commended. When it comes down to it, we wouldn't want to be in their shoes, but we certainly don't want to give them the well-deserved respect for wearing those shoes. These were not Opie Taylor boys . . . otherwise, they would have shown their hands and not made crude remarks to make our officers feel the need to protect themselves. Black or white, how stupid do you have to be?

Police officers are underpaid, underrespected, underappreciated, and with lack of support. The mayor should also be ashamed of himself. He's condemned them in public without an end to a proper investigation. Not to sound too uneducated, but this entire situation is a load of crap! Those officers have my full support and daily prayers. You go get 'em boys!

Sent by Salih Matin on 12-04-2006:

I wonder what you would read into these shootings, and the usual response from our elected officials, if you were a young black man who had not been involved in criminal activity. I fear for my life, as does my mother, from the very people that are here to protect me. I would very much like to believe that this incident was not racially motivated, but the overwhelming history of this country's racist past and present . . . let's just say I am skeptical.

Clearly the jury is out. Your whooping up of unmitigated
support for the police is the same as the black leaders' unmitigated call that this was racially motivated.

They should not have shot so much. 'Nuff said.

New York’s anti-cop forces have roared back to life, thanks to a fatal police shooting of an unarmed man a week ago. The press is once again fawning over Al Sharpton, Herbert Daughtry, Charles Barron, and sundry other hate-mongers in and out of city government as they accuse the police of widespread mistreatment of blacks and issue barely veiled threats of riots if they do not get “justice.”

The allegation that last weekend’s shooting was racially motivated is preposterous. A group of undercover officers working in a gun- and drug-plagued strip joint in Queens had good reason to believe that a party leaving the club was armed and about to shoot an adversary. When one of the undercovers identified himself as an officer, the car holding the party twice tried to run him down. The officer started firing while yelling to the car’s occupants: “Let me see your hands.” His colleagues, believing they were under attack, fired as well, eventually shooting off 50 rounds and killing the driver, Sean Bell. No gun was found in the car, but witnesses and video footage confirm that a fourth man in the party fled the scene once the altercation began. Bell and the other men with him all had been arrested for illegal possession of guns in the past; one of Bell’s companions that night, Joseph Guzman, had spent considerable time in prison, including for an armed robbery in which he shot at his victim.

Nothing in these facts suggests that racial animus lay behind the incident. (Though this detail should be irrelevant, the undercover team was racially mixed, and the officer who fired the first shot was black.) But even more preposterous than the assertion of such animus is the claim by New York’s self-appointed minority advocates that the well-being of the minority community is what motivates them. If it were, here are seven things that you would have heard them say years ago:

1. “Stop the killing!” Since 1993, 11,353 people have been murdered in New York City. The large majority of victims and perpetrators have been black. Not a single one of those black-on-black killings has prompted protest or demonstrations from the city’s black advocates. Sharpton, Barron, et al. are happy to let thousands of black victims get mowed down by thugs without so much as a whispered call for “peace” or “justice”; it’s only when a police officer, trying to protect the public, makes a good faith mistake in a moment of intense pressure that they rise as vindicators of black life. (As for caring about slain police officers, forget about it. Sixteen cops—including several black policemen—have been killed since 1999, not one of whom elicited a public demonstration of condolence from the race hustlers.)

If the city’s black advocates paid even a tiny fraction of the attention they pay to shootings by criminals as they pay to shootings by police, they could change the face of the city. If demonstrators gathered outside the jail cell of every rapist and teen stick-up thug, cameras in tow, to shame them for their attacks on law-abiding minority residents, they could deglamorize the gangsta life. Think you’ll find Sharpton or Barron patrolling with the police in dark housing project stairways, trying to protect residents from predators? Not a chance. Among the crimes committed in minority communities since last week’s police shooting of Sean Bell there has been a 26-year-old man fatally shot in the Bronx; another man hit by stray bullets; a sandwich shop in Brownsville robbed by thugs who fired a gun; and three elderly men robbed at knifepoint by a parolee in Queens. Those minority victims who survived will have to rely on the police and the courts, not the race “advocates,” for vindication.

2. “Police killings of innocent civilians—each one of them a horror—are nonetheless rare.” The instances of an officer shooting an innocent, unarmed victim are so unusual that they can be counted on one’s fingers. Last year, of the nine suspects fatally shot by the police, two had just fired at a police officer, three were getting ready to fire, two had tried to stab an officer, and two were physically attacking an officer. Far more frequent are the times when the NYPD refrains from using force though clearly authorized to do so. So far this year, officers have been fired upon four times, without returning fire. In 2005, there were five such incidents. And the NYPD apprehended 3,428 armed felons this year, 15 percent more than last year. Each arrest of a gun-toting thug involves the potential for the use of deadly force, yet is almost always carried out peacefully.

The Department has dramatically driven down the rate of all police shootings—justified and not—over the decades (in 1973, there were 1.82 fatal police shootings per 1,000 officers; in 2005, there were 0.25 such shootings per 1,000 officers, bringing the absolute number of police shootings down from 54 in 1973 to nine in 2005). The NYPD’s per capita rate of shootings is lower than many big city departments.

Yet New York Times columnist Bob Herbert charges the police with an unbroken pattern of “blowing away innocent individuals with impunity.” The “community,” he wrote on November 30, “which is sick of these killings, is simmering,” What are “these killings,” about which the “community” is simmering? Herbert reaches back over three decades and adduces five prior to the recent shooting of Sean Bell. Each was a disaster that provoked the NYPD to scrutinize its tactics. But the number of innocent bystanders killed by criminal thugs in New York dwarfs the number of innocents killed by the police. Sharpton recently said that the minority community has to fear police officers as much as robbers. This is a groundless charge. What is true is that stoking the myth that the police are a threat to blacks harms the minority community by inflaming anti-cop sentiment and retarding community cooperation in the fight against crime in inner-city neighborhoods.

3. “The police work every day to save lives.” If New York City murders had remained at their early 1990s highs, instead of dropping from 1,927 killings in 1993 to 540 in 2005, 13,698 more people—most of them black and Hispanic—would have been dead by last year. They are alive today thanks to the relentless efforts of the NYPD to bring the same level of safety to poor minority neighborhoods as to Greenwich Village and the Upper East Side.

The undercover officers who killed Sean Bell over the weekend were working the strip club in Queens where the incident occurred at 4 AM because of its record of illegal guns and drug sales. Their intentions that night were to protect the residents of Jamaica and the occupants of the club from violence; that they ended up killing an unarmed man is undoubtedly a nightmare for them almost as horrific as it is for the victim’s family.

It may turn out that the officers failed to follow departmental procedures during the incident (though the NYPD’s rule against firing at cars that are trying to run an officer over seems highly unrealistic). If so, the city will hold them accountable. The criminal justice system may even find them criminally liable. But there is absolutely no evidence that racial hatred lay behind either the officers’ presence at the club or their behavior once there—contrary to the outrageous slander of New York City Councilman Al Vann, who called the shooting of Bell and other police shootings the product of “a discriminatory mind, a prejudiced mind,” adding, “We have to admit [that] the problem is . . . institutional racism.”

A New York Times reporter, Cara Buckley, coyly echoed this inflammatory charge on Wednesday. In referring to the undercover officer who fired the first shots at the car, she says: “The officer’s fear, if that was what motivated him, was unfounded” (emphasis added). We will leave aside the spurious judgment that just because no gun was ultimately found on the car’s occupants, the officer’s fear of a gun was “unfounded.” The officer, after all, had heard Sean Bell say, “Let’s fuck him up,” and Bell’s friend, Joseph Guzman, respond, “Yo, get my gun.” That officer was then the target of an oncoming vehicle driven by Bell. The most offensive part of Buckley’s statement, though, is her suggestion that the officer might have been motivated by something other than fear—and what else could that be but racism or some kind of violent animus?

The New York Times, Al Vann, and other City Council hotheads such as Helen Foster notwithstanding, someone who believes that black lives are worth less than white lives is not going to put his own life at risk working in dangerous environments trying to get guns away from criminals.

4. “If you witnessed a crime, help the authorities solve it.” The police could probably lock away just about every dangerous thug roaming the streets if they got more cooperation from witnesses and people with knowledge of the crime. Instead, they often encounter a wall of hostile silence in minority communities. Bystanders sometimes deliberately block officers chasing a criminal. The stigma against helping the police—referred to derogatorily as “snitching”—is pervasive. “If you’re a snitch, people want to kill you,” a teen robber in a Brooklyn crime rehabilitation program that I observed this spring explained. Helping the police is seen as helping the enemy, defined in racial terms. Even black officers are part of the hated white establishment. “Black cops, I disrespect them. They sucking the white man,” asserted another juvenile delinquent in the Crown Heights rehab program.

Many law-abiding residents of crime-ridden neighborhoods buck this self-defeating social norm. They attend police-community council meetings in their local precinct month after month, learning about police initiatives, and they report anonymously on drug deals and vice hot spots. They are the eyes and ears of the department, and without their help, the NYPD might not have achieved the unmatched crime drop of the last decade. It would be astounding if any of the anti-police activists leading protests about the Sean Bell shooting had ever attended a precinct community meeting or offered to help the police solve crimes. Presumably, they have more important things to do than work to improve the quality of life in minority neighborhoods. Let the police take care of that. But even if the anti-cop activists can’t be bothered to give a few hours a month to fight crime, they could at least use their bully pulpit to call on others to share what they know about criminals and to help get violent offenders off the street before they injure more people and property. Instead, their opportunistic cop-bashing only increases the hatred of the police and the stigma against cooperating with them. As a result, more lives will be taken by cop-eluding barbarians.

5. “The NYPD and the criminal justice system investigate every police shooting with profound seriousness; they will not rest until the facts are uncovered and justice done.” The premise of the current grandstanding by “minority advocates” is that the authorities would shrug off the recent shooting without heat from the street. One thinks of the rooster in the fable, who believes that his crowing raises the sun. “Business will not go on as usual until we get justice for Sean Bell,” Sharpton said on Wednesday. It is not Sharpton and his cronies who are getting justice for Bell, however. The street agitators could all go home (sometimes, as in the case of Sharpton, to suburbia) and wait quietly for a resolution, and the system would proceed just as diligently to assign fault if fault was present and to hold any wrongdoers accountable.

Other publicity-hungry politicians are just as desperate to add their voices to the post-shooting hue and cry. New York Senators Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton issued a joint statement on Wednesday: “It is of the utmost importance that the investigating authorities, led by the Queens district attorney, conduct an aggressive, impartial investigation to ferret out the facts.” What do they think would have happened without this self-righteous piece of boilerplate? That the “investigating authorities” would have conducted a biased, half-hearted investigation?

Every time the anti-police lobby issues superfluous demands for a “full investigation” and threats of violence if “justice” is not done, they send the destructive message that the police are indifferent to the loss of life. Or worse: “I’m not asking my people to do anything passive anymore,” said City Councilman Charles Barron. “Don’t ask us to ask our people to be peaceful while they are being murdered. We’re not the only ones that can bleed.”

6. “Police officers make mistakes; tragically, those mistakes are sometimes deadly.” Perhaps Al Sharpton, Charles Barron, and Jesse Jackson have never made an error of judgment, except for Tawana Brawley and such like. Perhaps, too—though this is truly unlikely—they have had to confront the possibility that they are facing someone about to shoot them and in a split-second to decide whether to shoot first. Perhaps in such circumstances, they would never ever make the wrong decision. If so, perhaps they are justified in strutting around like beings of superhuman prescience and infallibility.

But most police officers are like other human beings: they do make mistakes. And because they are carrying lethal weapons, in order to counter the illegal firepower packed by lowlifes, very occasionally those mistakes take an innocent life. The Police Department works incessantly to make sure that its officers never make a fatal error. It tries to drill into officers reflexes that will guard against wrong split-second judgments. It constantly reviews its training and official procedures to improve those reflexes. But out in the field, even the best training can prove inadequate to the pressure and confusion of a possibly deadly encounter.

This is not to say that the public and elected officials should automatically excuse every police shooting—which they are obviously far from doing. But to presume that every mistaken shooting represents a system-wide failure is inaccurate and unrealistic. The New York Times darkly commands: “[T]he Police Department must . . . confront the fact that a disaster that everyone swore to prevent seven years ago has repeated itself in Queens.” But because cops are humans and therefore fallible, it is impossible to prevent every wrongful shooting—without emasculating the police entirely. The New York Times has itself made a few mistakes over the last seven years; perhaps it, too, needs to confront its persistent fallibility.

7. “The police concentrate their efforts in minority communities because that is where the crime is.” Race hustlers accuse the police of “racially profiling” and targeting minorities for unjustified police action. After showing up in New York for his time in the Sean Bell spotlight, Jesse Jackson announced: “Our criminal-justice system has broken down for black Americans and young black males. We’ve marched and marched, bled too profusely, and died too young. We must draw a line in the sand and fight back.”

Memo to Jackson: The police have a disproportionate number of interactions with blacks because blacks are committing a disproportionate number of crimes. That fact comes from the testimony of the victims of those crimes, themselves largely black, not from the police. In New York City, blacks committed 62 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults from 1998 to 2000, according to victim and witness identification, even though they make up only 25 percent of the city’s population. Whites committed 8 percent of those crimes over that period, though they are 28 percent of New York residents. These proportions have been stable for years and remain so today. It’s not the “criminal-justice system” that has broken down for young black males; it’s families and other sources of cultural support. Changing the subject and blaming the police just perpetuates the problem.

The furor over the Sean Bell shooting shows no sign of abating; if anything, the specious racial rhetoric is becoming more ugly and dangerous. To the extent that the exploitation of this tragic event makes the police think twice about engaging with possible criminals or turn a blind eye to crime in the ghetto (as was once the case), the most direct victims will be the hundreds of thousands of innocent, upstanding minority New Yorkers.

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