Kaeper­nick still calls crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem ‘racist’

Texarkana Gazette - - OPINION - Larry El­der

For­mer NFL quar­ter­back Colin Kaeper­nick’s at­tor­ney ac­cused the mu­si­cal group Ma­roon 5 of cross­ing the “picket line” to per­form at the Su­per Bowl and called the ex­pla­na­tion by Adam Levine, the lead singer of the mu­si­cal group, a “cop-out.”

Kaeper­nick, when he played in 2016, kneeled dur­ing the na­tional an­them to protest what he con­sid­ers an un­just crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem that he be­lieves al­lows cops to sys­tem­at­i­cally “op­press” blacks. Kaeper­nick said: “There’s a lot of things that need to change. One specif­i­cally is po­lice bru­tal­ity. There’s peo­ple be­ing mur­dered un­justly and not be­ing held ac­count­able. The cops are get­ting paid leave for killing peo­ple. That’s not right.”

No one doubts the ex­is­tence of bad cops or of cops who make poor de­ci­sions or who use poor judge­ment. But where’s the ev­i­dence of “sys­temic” racism? When black Har­vard econ­o­mist Roland Fryer con­ducted a 2016 study of po­lice use of force, he ex­pected to find wide­spread ev­i­dence of po­lice of­fi­cers dis­pro­por­tion­ately us­ing deadly force against blacks. In­stead, he found the op­po­site. Po­lice, he con­cluded, were more hes­i­tant to use deadly force against blacks than against whites. “It is,” he ad­mit­ted, “the most sur­pris­ing re­sult of my ca­reer.” This tracks an­other study pub­lished in 2014 by re­searchers at Wash­ing­ton State

Uni­ver­sity, who reached the same con­clu­sion, find­ing “there was sig­nif­i­cant bias

fa­vor­ing (em­pha­sis added) blacks where de­ci­sions to shoot were con­cerned.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Man­hat­tan In­sti­tute’s Heather Mac Don­ald: “In 2016, the po­lice fa­tally shot 233 blacks, the vast ma­jor­ity armed and dan­ger­ous, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post. The pa­per cat­e­go­rized only 16 black male vic­tims of po­lice shoot­ings as ‘un­armed.’ That clas­si­fi­ca­tion masks as­saults against of­fi­cers and vi­o­lent re­sis­tance to ar­rest. Con­trary to the Black Lives Mat­ter nar­ra­tive, the po­lice have much more to fear from black males than black males have to fear from the po­lice. … Black males have made up 42 per­cent of all cop-killers over the last decade, though they are only 6 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.”

While most peo­ple can name sev­eral re­cent high-pro­file po­lice killings of un­armed blacks or deaths that oc­curred while in po­lice cus­tody—Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Fred­die Gray, San­dra Bland, Tamir Rice, to name some—few peo­ple can name a sin­gle in­stance of an un­armed white who was killed by po­lice or died in po­lice cus­tody. Yet the po­lice kill more un­armed whites than un­armed blacks.

As to the claim of “in­sti­tu­tional racism,” gov­ern­ment stud­ies have de­bunked this. In 2013, the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Jus­tice, the re­search arm of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, ex­am­ined traf­fic stops by race, as traf­fic stops are the most com­mon rea­son for a per­son to in­ter­act with a cop in any given year. Sev­enty-five per­cent of blacks stopped by po­lice

ad­mit­ted that, in fact, the cops had a “le­git­i­mate rea­son” for stop­ping them. The NIJ study found that blacks were dis­pro­por­tion­ately stopped by the po­lice, but that any nu­mer­i­cal dis­par­i­ties re­sulted from “dif­fer­ences in of­fend­ing” in ad­di­tion to “dif­fer­ences in ex­po­sure to the po­lice” and “dif­fer­ences in driv­ing pat­terns.”

Since Kaeper­nick be­gan his protests, vot­ers elected Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump. Trump posthu­mously par­doned for­mer boxer Jack John­son, the first black heavy­weight cham­pion, who was ar­rested and con­victed on a bo­gus morals charge. Trump com­muted the sen­tence of Alice Marie John­son, a black woman serv­ing a lengthy sen­tence af­ter be­ing con­victed for in­volve­ment with drug traf­fick­ers and il­le­gal drug money laun­der­ing. Trump also pub­licly asked the NFL pro­test­ers to pro­vide names of those “peo­ple that they think were un­fairly treated by the jus­tice sys­tem.” Trump promised to re­view their cases and, if war­ranted, he would “par­don them, or at least let them out.” To date, the protest­ing play­ers have yet to give him the re­quested list of names.

Also, Trump, with no in­put or par­tic­i­pa­tion by Kaeper­nick, signed a wide-rang­ing crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form bill. Even Trump critic Van Jones of CNN, a black pun­dit who at­trib­uted Trump’s 2016 elec­tion vic­tory to “white­lash” at­tended the Oval Of­fice sign­ing of the crim­i­nal jus­tice bill that Jones called “a Christ­mas mir­a­cle.”

The cops do not en­gage in sys­temic, in­sti­tu­tional or struc­tural racism. One can­not have a mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion about al­leged po­lice mis­con­duct with­out ac­knowl­edg­ing the dis­pro­por­tion­ate amount of crime com­mit­ted by blacks, which in turn re­sults in the dis­pro­por­tion­ate in­ter­ac­tion blacks have with the po­lice. Next sea­son, how about we just en­joy some foot­ball?


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