[LMB] OT: Racial disparities in policing

Matthew George matt.msg at gmail.com
Tue Dec 10 00:17:10 GMT 2019

On Sat, Dec 7, 2019 at 5:59 PM WILLIAM A WENRICH <wawenri at msn.com> wrote:

> A few years ago, a black professor was locked out of his house in an
> expensive neighborhood. When he was breaking in to his own house police
> detained him and made him prove that he lived there. He cried racism that
> the police stopped him because he was black.
> I do not remember if anyone asked what would happen if the police found a
> white person breading into a house in the same neighborhood,

I DO recall people discussing that, and I've had personal experience with
similar situations.  And of course the police always request a
demonstration that the person trying to gain access to a house, a car,
etc.actually is the rightful owner before they leave, for the simple reason
that they would get into a great deal of trouble if they left a reported
possible break-in that WAS an actual break-in merely because the thief
claimed to be the owner.  Even ignoring any desire to do their jobs and
protect the public, they need to cover their own butts.

I am reminded of the infamous case where female professional musicians were
complaining that they were discriminated against by orchestras, whose
positions are highly competitive and avidly pursued.  A carefully
double-blinded test showed that orchestra managers were mildly prejudiced
against women - but that women were significantly lower-performing, which
accounted for the majority of the disparate hiring.

Before we conclude that prejudice makes police stop young black men more
often (and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if that were the case), we need
to exclude alternative explanations.  Such as the possibility that young
black men drive in a manner that tends to attract police attention.  I seem
to recall some studies that indicated that black police stopped black
drivers more frequently, which would seem to make attributing the behavior
to racial animus rather problematic.

Matt G.

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