, ,

Police Racism in America?

With every new shooting of a Black American comes a deluge of Facebook posts calling for an end to racism in policing. In the latest shooting, a white, female police officer fatally shot Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, in what appears to be a bad shooting. I’ve seen the videos and it does appear that there was little cause for lethal force, although I do think it is important to refrain from judgment until an investigation can be done.

If this was a bad shooting, which seems likely at this point, it is indeed a tragedy. I mourn, as I think we all should, the death of a man who probably did not deserve it. The officer, if guilty, should be prosecuted under the law. That being said, I think it is a mistake to lump this shooting in with the raft of other white-on-black police shootings that further cement a narrative of police racism. Here’s why:

  1. Many of these shootings have been woefully misrepresented. The Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson is probably the prime example. Personally, I went from deep sadness to near rage when I actually took the time to investigate the facts of the case. The media portrayed a narrative where Michael the gentle giant was shot with his hands up by a clearly racist officer. That story basically created months of rioting in Ferguson. In fact, Brown was a criminal who had charged Officer Wilson and was rightfully gunned down. This is a major problem. The mainstream media has become so entrenched in a liberal bias at this point that it seems to be intentionally crafting a bird’s-eye-view narrative of this issue that is false. And this is demonstrated in the data.
  2. The statistical fact is that cops shoot almost twice as many whites as blacks (50% vs 26% of police shootings). Though some will argue that blacks are only 13% of the population, this is misleading because they commit the majority of violent crimes. Heather MacDonald writes that “the black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26 percent of police victims would be black.” Furthermore, a 2015 DoJ report shows that Hispanic and Black officers are more likely than white officers to shoot blacks. The greater point here is that white on white or black on black police shootings don’t make good TV, but white on black ones are trumpeted on every news network and re-shared ad nuaseum via social media, hence the number of comments on my Facebook wall saying, “how does this keep happening?”
  3. Our media and university system have embraced a deeply flawed concept of racism. I do not refute the fact that racism exists in our police and court system, because racism exists everywhere. On the other hand, I absolutely reject the notion that the only racism that matters is the systemic racism of oppressive groups. It is racist when someone assumes that an officer acted out of racist intent, without actual evidence. It is bigoted when Colin Kaepernick likens cops to pigs. The fact that these racist attitudes are not held by white people does not make them less racist or bigoted.

And this is where the gospel comes in. We live in a flawed world, but God, the great judge of all, promises to judge each person according to his/her deeds and situations. This is a glorious truth. He will make all things right and reward those who bore unfair treatment in faith. He never promises that this world, in this age, will be totally fair or right, but he promises he’ll take all these things into consideration when he judges.

This is important to know, because this truth gives us grace to repent for our own wrongs, and forgive those who wrong us. In forgiving, we free ourselves from offense that locks us in pain and causes us to judge others falsely. My call, especially to my Christian brethren, is to let go of offense in this area so that we can see clearly. Offense and anger cannot cast out wickedness, it only makes it worse.

From that perspective, let’s evaluate each of these shootings in turn. Let’s refrain from condemning all police or making accusations of racism without evidence. Let’s fight for the guilty to be punished, the innocent to be saved, for police reform where needed, and for justice for each person.

2 replies
  1. Bill Cole
    Bill Cole says:

    All points well made and well taken. From the perspective of this white reader, the tendency of black TV “spokesmen” to jump to conclusions and label any shooting of what turns out to be an unarmed black man as racially motivated — regardless of the shooting victim’s actions or whether the police officer might have had a reasonable fear that the victim might in fact be armed or otherwise dangerous — drives me crazy. But it’s still humbling to remember that black fear, resentment, and anger is usually completely sincere and based on real-life personal experiences. Some cops out there are simply the same bullies who used to steal the other kids’ lunch money in fourth grade, and now they carry guns and look askance at anyone who is black. Ferguson is another good example. Although the evidence is overwhelming that Michael Brown was a violent thug who attacked the police officer in his police car, the frustration of the Ferguson community was fueled in large measure by legitimate anger over how the city government raised most of its revenue — not by property taxes or other conventional means but by huge numbers of trumped-up traffic tickets handed out by police officers primarily to black drivers. One good thing that came out of Ferguson protests and investigations was that those practices came to an end.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

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