WHY BALTIMORE AND OTHER CITIES BLOW UP

THE ISSUE WE CAN’T TALK ABOUT




“In affluent neighborhoods, police tended to show up only when they had no choice.  “Domestic violence, a guy firing a weapon, a car accident, he [NYC Officer Anthony Miranda, head of the National Latino Officers Association] says.  “Cases where, if a cop ends up responding he has to take action.  But, Miranda says, you weren’t supposed to be looking for reasons to arrest people in those neighborhoods.  But in poorer neighborhoods, cops weren’t waiting for people to call 911- they were, in police parlance, “self-initiating” the action.  “If it’s bed-Sty or some poor neighborhood in the middle of a ghetto”, he says, “it could be a Catholic church and they’ll find some priest and bang the shit out of him with summonses.”

“At the policy’s height [Broken Windows], in 2011, New York cops were stopping more than 680,000 people a year (around 89 percent of whom were nonwhite, in a city whose population is more than half white) and issuing upward of half a million summonses a year.”


By 2008, L.A. was making more than 870,000 stops a year, a rate significantly higher than New York at its peak.”

“So then O’Malley [former Maryland Governor] started his version of Broken Windows, he had a mandate and its not surprising that Baltimore’s program was wildly aggressive.  At its peak in 2005, an incredible 108,000 of the city’s 600,000 residents were arrested.”

“Decades into this campaign of organized harassment, the worst thing that happened to the cops  who stopped thousands upon thousands of people with no good reason was that they started to become the subject of academic studies. “

“In 2013, New York University examined the data relating to CompStat and the Broken Windows arrests and concluded that they had little to no impact on the crime rate.”

“Say you live in a large American city – Baltimore, for example.  Police stop you and search you, something goes wrong and you end up getting your ass kicked.  You don’t die, and more to the point, nobody films you not dying, which means CNN doesn’t show up the next day.  You’re hauled off to jail.  Sometime between a few hours and a few days later, you learn the charges against you.  It’s a usually a hell of a list, which is part of the game.”

“The case is weak, however, so a few days or weeks later a prosecutor tells you charges will be dropped.  In being processed you sign a paper.  It reads:

I, (name), hereby release and forever discharge (complainant) and (law enforcement agency), all its officers, agents and employees, and any and all other persons from any and all claims which I may have for wrongful conduct by reason of my arrest, detention, or confinement on or about (date).”  You sign, and your “criminal record” disappears, which is great for you.  But so does the incident which is expunged from the public record.”

“A grotesque example is Chicago, where statistics about police abuse leaked out via a civil lawsuit called Bond v. Utreras.  In that case, it was revealed that in a two year period between 2002 and 2004, Chicago police received 10,149 complaints of misconduct, which resulted in only 19 acts of meaningful discipline (defined as a suspension of seven days or more.)”

“The real problem with Broken Windows is that it brings the same attitude to neighborhoods that corrections officers bring to prisons.  “You have guys locked up for serious crimes, you’re supposed to be controlling them,” says Anthony Miranda.  “But in neighborhoods, you’re not supposed to be controlling people.  You’re supposed to be working with them.  You’re supposed to be serving them.  And that attitude is what’s missing.”


From Rolling Stone, June 4, 2015







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