THE ISSUE WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT


WHY BALTIMORE BLEW UP


ERIC GARNER, MICHAEL BROWN, AKAI GURLEY, TAMIR RICE, WALTER SCOTT, FREDDIE GRAY

“Most Americans have never experienced this kind of policing.  They haven’t had to stare down the barrel of a service revolver drawn for no reason at a routine stop.  They haven’t had their wife and kids put on an ice-cold sidewalk curb while cops ran their license plate.  They haven’t ever been told to get the fuck back in their car right now, been accused of having too prominent a “bulge,” had their dog shot and their kids handcuffed near its body during a wrong-door raid, watched their seven-year-old dragged to jail for sitting on a dirt bike, or dealt with any of a thousand other positively crazy things non-white America has come to expect from an interaction with law enforcement.”

“Baltimore is like a lot of American cities.  It has a small, spiffy-looking downtown with a couple of nice ballparks and some Zagat-listed restaurants for the tourists to visit.  But outside those few blocks, much of it is a dead zone.  Whole sections of town are packed with crumbling, trash-infested row houses, and this pothole-strewn mess is where people are expected to live.  The drug trade has historically dominated Baltimore’s ghettos.  But the city is so screwed these days, jokes one African-American resident, that “even the drug game is dead.” 



“Broken Windows Policing, which gained renown in the Nineties thanks to politicians like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, is the mutant offspring of our already infamous race history, a set of high-tech tricks to disguise old-school discriminatory policing as cheery-sounding, yuppie-approved, Malcolm Gladwell-endorsed pop sociology.’ 

“After Giuliani made Bratton his police commissioner in 1994, the two men took the Broken Windows approach to the next level.  New terms entered the lexicon – “zero tolerance,” “stop-and-frisk,” “community policing” (an Orwellian euphemism every bit as preposterous as the Clear Skies and Healthy Forest initiatives dreamed up by the Bush Administration.)”

“Broken Windows has left a major footprint on modern American society, primarily on the 65 million or so people who have criminal records in this country.  That’s a population roughly the size of France.



You can easily find the collateral damage from this vast illegal war on crime by just walking into certain neighborhoods and asking.  From bad arrests to broken bones, there are enough horror stories to fill a thousand Ken Burns documentaries.  But good luck finding any of that misconduct in an official record.  What you mostly find when you search are a lot of convictions and a whole lot of statistical noise.  The dirt, as it often is in this country, is mostly hidden away.”


From Rolling Stone, June 4, 2015




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