July 25, 2009

Disorderly Conduct

An exercise in racial stereotypes. I'm Asian so I don't have a face that is police bait. Strangers who see me are more likely to think I don't speak English, or that I'll whip out a camera.

Black guys have more serious problems - it's not just the fact that police come in with biases. It's everybody, the news media included (including black reporters).

Watch this early story about the white woman who got arrested earlier this month while exiting the NYC subway, for disorderly conduct after getting in an argument with a Hacidic cop over her sick dog.

And watch this early story of the black professor who got arrested on a recent Cambridge afternoon, for disorderly conduct after getting into an argument with a white cop about a burglary report at his own home.

Do you respond differently to the two cases? Do you think the news reporters responded differently to the two cases?

It is striking that in one case, even though the citizen clearly did violate a statute, coverage was very critical of the police who were "way out of line" and needed more "training in how to deal with people."

It is also striking that in the other case, no crime was committed at all - just a report of a suspicion - and yet the coverage highlighted the citizen's mugshots, fingerprints and their "loud and tumultuous behavior."

If you're not paying attention to the racial issues, you can easily miss the bias.

But think about the (probably unconsciously) coded language. Police need to learn how to "deal with people" - Here "people" means "white women in distress."

Reports of a person being "loud and tumultuous" - Here "tumultuous" means "crazy old black guy."

The more carefully you look, the more nuts we all are.

Posted by David at July 25, 2009 02:51 PM

Remember the fast food manager that told their employee to strip down because someone on the phone told them to do so? Stranger than fiction!

Posted by: Eugene at September 2, 2009 03:13 AM
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