Connect with us

Opinion

No, US policing doesn’t trace its roots to heinous slave patrols

Published

on

No, US policing doesn’t trace its roots to heinous slave patrols

There’s a storyline in vogue among those who would defund the cops that claims that modern policing grew out of the vile squads that hunted runaway slaves. “From slave patrols to traffic stops. We can’t reform this,” Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) recently admonished.

It’s a slur, and a dangerous one: Modern police didn’t get their start as slave patrols, and saying so is just one more way activists stir up anger against law enforcement. Such ahistorical statements silence vital dialogue about police reform and decrease trust.

Most of the 18,000 US police agencies were founded after abolition, and many were explicitly modeled on modern concepts of policing invented by the British. And the officers in many major cities — including LA, Houston and Atlanta — are mainly minorities. To call the increasingly diverse ranks of the police some kind of modern slave-driving force is offensive and obscene.

Such falsehoods distract from a much more important — and daunting — challenge. In many US cities in 2021, there is an inherent tension between police and black citizens. In 2020, in New York City, over 63 percent of homicide suspects were black, as were 65 percent of homicide victims. Over 49 percent of rape suspects were black, as were over 40 percent of rape victims.

Over 53 percent of felonious-assault suspects were black, as were over 46 percent of the victims. Almost 66 percent of robbery suspects and 61 percent of grand-larceny suspects were black. Over half the suspects for petit larceny, misdemeanor criminal mischief, possession of stolen property, juvenile felony and misdemeanor offenses were black. Most staggering: Over 72 percent of shooting suspects and nearly 74 percent of victims were black.

Gotham’s population is 21.7 percent black.

A quick look at the numbers above makes clear that NYPD will be interacting with black citizens under tense conditions a massively disproportionate amount of time. Not because of history, but because of crime rates.

We may not have an explanation for why crime commission is so unequal among New Yorkers of different races. But one thing is clear: To combat a very real and very understandable perception that police are targeting blacks, police need to interact with minority New Yorkers in non-tense situations. Community policing in the past few decades was such a positive revolution partly because it pushed officers to be fixtures in the community, to know a neighborhood and its residents, to be familiar and trusted.

Community policing isn’t glamorous or a “reimagined” police force, but it’s a powerful way to tamp down the impression that cops are the enforcers of an oppressive system, rather than partners in maintaining public safety.

When Mayor Bill de Blasio published his “NYC Police Reform and Reinvention Collaborative Draft Plan” in March, it began with this slavery narrative: “Racialized policing in New York City is a tragic part of that larger history of over 400 years of oppression, which runs from slave catching and kidnapping in the 19th century in a direct line through to more contemporary practices of unconstitutional stops and frisks of black and brown individuals.”

(There was no longer a single slave in New York City by the 1840 Census, and the NYPD wasn’t established until 1845, but why quibble?)

With truly gobstopping chutzpah the document continues: “We understand that we have not, nor can we, erase a 400-year legacy during one mayoralty, or as the result of one plan.” Putting aside the vainglory in thinking we looked to de Blasio to purge us of the stain of slavery, what does this mea culpa do to tackle the very current and difficult racial tensions around policing?

If the narrative we amplify is that the current NYPD, which is composed primarily of minorities, is just a few degrees of separation from slave hunters, will that increase trust? Politicians should be looking for ways to lower crime while improving the relationship between police and the community. Peddling historical lies isn’t the answer.

Hannah E. Meyers is director of the policing and public-safety initiative at the Manhattan Institute.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

Published

on

Supreme Court decisions expose Dems as half-baked hysterics

When President Donald Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court last fall, hysterical Democrats declared millions of Americans would lose health coverage with her vote against ObamaCare — and immediately started talking about packing a court they called hopelessly divided.

Two big Supreme Court decisions last week proved reality turned out to be nothing like Dems’ fever dreams.

In a 7-2 decision in California v. Texas, the high court rejected a Republican bid to invalidate ObamaCare — and Barrett was not one of the two dissenters. It ruled that Texas and 17 other GOP-led states didn’t have standing to challenge the law’s individual mandate. The Trump administration had taken their side, while 20 Democratic-run states including New York and California, along with the Dem-controlled House of Representatives, took the other. Only Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch dissented to the majority opinion the liberal Stephen Breyer authored.

How could this be? Last year, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez declared, “Confirming Amy Coney Barrett will be the end of the Affordable Care Act.” In her opening statement at Barrett’s confirmation hearing, then-Sen. Kamala Harris held up a picture of an 11-year-old constituent and accused Republicans of trying “to jam through a Supreme Court nominee who will take away health care from millions of people during a deadly pandemic.”

Democrats boycotted the final committee vote, filling their seats instead with posters of ObamaCare recipients, implying a vote for Barrett would put those lives at risk.

During the whole childish circus, they insisted Trump had picked Barrett and sped up her confirmation just so she’d be seated in time to hear arguments in the case and dismantle the law. They didn’t bother to look at her record and examine her judicial philosophy — they assumed this well-qualified woman would be the president’s puppet.

In the second important decision, Fulton v. Philadelphia, the court ruled unanimously that the city violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause by suspending Catholic Social Services’ contract because the group wouldn’t certify same-sex couples as foster parents.

Yes, all nine justices ruled in favor of religious freedom — putting paid to Democratic complaints the court is out of balance with too many conservatives. It’s far from the only unanimous decision already this term, either. Every justice signed on to decisions written by Gorsuch, Breyer, Clarence Thomas and Sonia Sotomayor, with two of the cases involving immigration issues.

That people of varying political stripes can agree on the law shouldn’t come as a surprise. Supreme Court justices take their jobs seriously — which is more than you can say for Democrats charged with helping choose them.

Continue Reading

Opinion

The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

Published

on

The undying myth of GOP ‘obstructionism’

The media have spent the Joe Biden presidency thus far pressuring moderate Democrats to join the left’s efforts to destroy the filibuster.

Continue Reading

Opinion

Big Labor’s gift to itself and other commentary

Published

on

Big Labor's gift to itself and other commentary

Libertarian: Unions’ Gift to Themselves

Big Labor spent millions getting President Biden elected — and now it’s seeking to enact a law “directing federal power and resources to boost flagging” union rolls, laments Reason’s Eric Boehm. The so-called PRO Act “is a grab bag of Big-Labor agenda items that would extend some of California’s awful independent contractor regulations nationwide” and “abolish so-called right-to-work laws in the 27 states that have passed them.” Biden and the unions insist this is about empowering workers, “but if workers were as eager to join unions as [they] seem to think, they wouldn’t need a powerful federal bureaucracy to encourage that outcome.”

Centrist: United Supremes

The most striking aspect of the Supreme Court’s recent rulings on ObamaCare and religious liberty was the “absence of ideological divisions” from a high court that “Democratic leaders have declared hopelessly divided along ideological lines,” observes Jonathan Turley at USA Today. The largely united decisions mark “the final collapse of the false narrative that has been endlessly repeated like a mantra in Congress and the media.” Critics may continue to insist that the court is “dysfunctional, divided and needs to be radically changed,” but the justices aren’t “cooperating,” issuing instead an “inconvenient line of unanimous decisions.” Yet even as the court “seems to be saying a lot in one voice not just about the law, but about its own institution,” the media will undoubtedly continue to denounce it, “because politics demands it.”

Crime beat: A Wake-Up Call in Atlanta

The “mind-numbing randomness, brazenness and, even worse, casualness of violence afflicting Atlanta” has the upscale Buckhead neighborhood “wanting to break away from Atlanta to form its own city” with “its own police force,” writes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Bill Torpy. Atlanta shootings are up 40 percent this year, but police often see “the same ne’er-do-wells walking the streets the next day,” thanks to a “broken” criminal-justice system. “Buckhead is almost three-quarters white,” yet “in black neighborhoods across the city, victims are widespread, and residents there want police to protect them, too.” But Buckhead can get attention, because its departure would “take away 40 percent of the city’s income.” It should be “one loud wake-up call.”

Culture critic: RIP, Janet Malcolm

At First Things, Helen Andrews assesses the complex legacy of veteran New Yorker magazine scribe Janet Malcolm, who died last week — and whose “cold, precise, unsparing” journalistic style recalled that of the great Russian writer Anton Chekhov. She was born to a psychiatrist father, and “psychoanalysis was a constant presence in Malcolm’s journalism.” The shrink’s couch formed her “eye for the telling detail” and “taught Malcolm a certain bleakness” about the world — and her own profession. Yet her “most famous line” — that “every journalist who is not too stupid or full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible” — helped spread cynicism about reporters. The result, Andrews laments, is that now “every trace of authenticity has been scrubbed from press interviews.” 

Media watch: Suppressing the Truth

“From the lab-leak theory to the Lafayette Square tear-gassing, anti-Trump bias blinded our news media,” declares Wilfred Reilly at Spiked Online. “Except perhaps for the Hunter Biden story,” there was no “potentially major and obviously newsworthy story more intensely suppressed than the lab-leak explanation for COVID’s origins,” but it was just “revealed quite possibly to be correct.” Pols and press called then-President Donald Trump “reckless” for touting hydroxychloroquine, yet “a major study” has found “it increases survival rates for COVID patients by almost 200 percent.” And the claim “Trump had ‘tear-gassed peaceful protesters’ ” to stage a photo-op turned out to be “complete nonsense.” Tellingly, all these facts only came out when Joe Biden became president. This “mainstream-media swiveling” causes “latent social distrust that has no imaginable upside.”

— Compiled by The Post Editorial Board

Continue Reading

Trending