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US Refuses To Seriously Tackle Police Brutality and Racism

Half a century and too little change:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., during the year before his April 1968 assassination, stridently criticized conservatives for failing to forthrightly attack poverty and he blasted President Johnson for channeling increasing resources to the Vietnam War, which then shortchanged Johnson’s programs to address poverty. King had blasted police brutality twice during his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.

Sound familiar?

One proposal from Obama’s panel, formally known as the Task Force on 21st Century Policing, called for initiatives “that address the core issues of poverty, education, health and safety.” This panel pointed out the persistently ignored reality that the “justice system alone cannot solve many of the underlying conditions that give rise to crime.” Clouding chances of federal funding increases to fight poverty is the fact that conservatives controlling Capitol Hill have consistently blocked Obama’s modest anti-poverty proposals.

One core yet consistently downplayed dynamic driving inaction on police abuses is the refusal of too many Americans to acknowledge the reality that police brutality exists and that it disproportionately impacts minorities.

A survey conducted by the 2015 Obama panel found that 72 percent of whites felt police treated blacks and whites equally while 62 percent of blacks felt they received unequal (and unjust) treatment from police.

The 1968 Kerner report declared that abrasive relations between police and minority groups “have been a major source of grievance, tension and ultimately disorder.”

The Kerner report found that police abuses were a key factor leading to most of the 24 riots it studied in 23 cities. A quarter of a century later, not much had changed. America’s most destructive riot, the 1992 eruption in Los Angeles following the acquittal of four white policemen charged in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King caused 53 deaths and over $1-billion in property damage. Another 22 years later, the riots in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, erupted in the wake of the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown by a white policeman.

The refusal of either state or federal authorities to file any charges against the officer who fatally gunned down Brown underscored what the 1968 Kerner Commission stated was a “widespread belief” among blacks that a “double standard of justice” existed in America.

Another factor in the persistence of police abuses is the failure of authorities to practice what they preach.

The Obama panel called for the adoption and enforcement of policies “prohibiting profiling and discrimination” – a suggestion long ignored by Obama panel co-chair Charles Ramsey, the Police Commissioner in Philadelphia. Yet, Ramsey’s department has been stopping and frisking mostly young black men, and resisting changes to that tactic, for his entire tenure in Philadelphia.

A report issued by the Pennsylvania ACLU just days before release of the Obama panel’s interim report, faulted Philadelphia police for targeting blacks in that city’s controversial Stop-&-Frisk campaign, which is the prime anti-crime initiative of Philadelphia’s mayor, Michael Nutter, an African-American like Ramsey.

Philadelphia police under Ramsey’s command targeted blacks for 72 percent of stops and 80 percent of frisks of pedestrians during one six month period in 2014, according to that ACLU report monitoring the PPD’s poor compliance with a 2011 federal court consent decree meant to end racist profiling.



story | by Dr. Radut