Guest Commentary: Biking While Black?

blog15-boybicycle-1160x768by Nusrat Choudhury

The Tampa Bay Times’ recent disclosure that police are targeting Blacks who ride bicycles — including children as young as three years old — for dramatically high rates of stops and searches is the latest piece in the nationwide debate about racial profiling that has followed the police-involved deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, and countless others.

Communities across the country are connecting the deluge of incidents in which police use force against Blacks (or, as in Gray’s case, show gross disregard for Black life) to everyday interactions in which police stop, frisk, and search Blacks and Latinos because of their race, rather than evidence of wrongdoing — a practice well-documented in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Ferguson. The latest reports from Tampa underscore just how little progress has been made in rooting out racial profiling and how the routine over policing of communities of color can lead to interactions that tragically devolve into the use of force.

The Tampa Bay Times reviewed 12 years of data on civil traffic citations in Hillsborough County, Florida, and discovered that the Tampa Police Department issues an astronomically high number of bike tickets, overwhelmingly to Blacks. From 20o3 to 2015, Tampa police wrote more than 10,000 bike tickets and issued 79 percent of them to Blacks — even though Blacks comprise only 26 percent of the Tampa population.

In the past three years, Tampa police wrote more bike tickets than the combined total number of tickets issued in four of the five largest Florida cities. Those targeted, the paper found, are concentrated in Tampa’s poor Black communities.

Equally disturbing is the conduct that police are choosing to sanction, including the ticketing of children. ACLU review of the data shows that in 2014, Tampa police issued 70 tickets for “bike riding w/no hands” — all but three went to Blacks. During the 12-year period studied, at least 142 bike tickets were issued to kids aged 15 and under, including children as young as three. All but 9 of these children are Black or Hispanic.

Even when Tampa police ticketed older Blacks, the paper discovered troubling circumstances.  Alphonso Lee King was stopped by police and had his bicycle confiscated because the 56-year-old could not provide a receipt to prove the bike was his. These tickets come with serious consequences, including driver’s license suspensions and reports to collection agencies when people — even children as young as 11 years old — cannot afford to pay. As the Department of Justice’s investigative report on the Ferguson Police Department demonstrated, the indebtedness that comes from these hefty fines can shatter the lives of poor people, ensaring them in a cycle of indebtedness almost impossible to avoid.

Tampa’s outgoing police chief claims that bike tickets are issued to people allegedly involved in criminal activity and that criminals now rely principally on bikes for transportation. These arguments are severely undercut by the Tampa Bay Times’ finding that only 20 percent of the adults ticketed in 2014 were even arrested for criminal activity — usually a drug charge — in the course of the bike stop.

Tampa police should be less defensive and consider the data and stories in the context of today’s debates about the over policing of communities of color and our national history of racial profiling. The city’s police should also remember that it isn’t the first department to come under scrutiny for disproportionately targeting Black people for bicycle stops.

In 2002, the ACLU of Michigan sued the Eastpointe Police Department for discrimination on behalf of 22 kids who had been stopped while riding bikes, questioned, and searched. Between 1995 and 1998, police had stopped more than 100 Black children aged 11 to 18 on their bikes, but only 40 white cyclists. Police had confiscated and auctioned off some of the plaintiffs’ bicycles.

And why did police target Black kids on bikes in Eastpointe?

The lawsuit revealed that the city police chief had issued a memorandum that explicitly instructed police officers to investigate any Black youth riding through the city — damning evidence of race-based targeting without any reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, which the Fourth Amendment requires. The case was ultimately settled after a federal court ruled that there was enough evidence of racial discrimination and illegal searches to take the case to a jury trial.

Even today, Tampa is not alone in reports that police are profiling Black kids on bicycles. Reports out of Fort Lauderdale and Boston also suggest a problem. Boston resident Modesto Sanchez was stopped and frisked as a teen when riding on a bike on his own street. The police officer explained, “People in your hood ride bikes to shoot people,” and accused Sanchez of looking “suspicious.”

Walter Scott and Freddie Gray died after initial interactions with the police over routine activity — such as driving a car with a broken taillight or making eye contact and then running away from bike cops — that escalated with tragic results. By heightening the likelihood that people of color will face a police interaction in the first place, racial profiling in any form — whether of pedestrians, bikers, or drivers — is one critical reason why people of color are more likely to become victims of police violence across America.

Thanks to data published by Hillsborough County, Tampa has information suggesting racialized policing that other cities lack. The mayor and incoming police chief of Tampa should view this data and community calls for reform as an opportunity to make positive changes — a chance to ensure that steps are taken before one tragic incident lights a fuse transforming Tampa into the next Ferguson or Baltimore.

The Tampa Police Department has agreed to let Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) review its program. But that is not enough. Neither the police nor COPS has made clear whether that review will include an investigation into racial profiling and civil rights violations — and that is what needs to happen.

The Tampa Police Department should also accept the invitation of civil rights groups and faith leaders to discuss bicycle enforcement and reforms to address racial disparities in policing. And it should stop issuing bicycle tickets until an investigation identifies the source of the problem, to prevent the needless issuance of tickets for minor infractions.

Nusrat Choudhury is the Staff Attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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60 Comments

  1. Davis Progressive

    i know i’ve heard a lot of complaints in davis about black residents and students walking and biking while black.  it would be something we should look at locally as well.

  2. Frankly

    Interesting, when you read about this Tamp Bay situation it is clear that there is something uniquely different about how blacks respond to bicycling rules.  Riding without lights.  No helmets.  Riding on the wrong side of the street.  Running stops signs.  Riding with passengers on the handlebars.  Riding with one hand while balancing good on the other had.  Pulling stuff behind their bikes.  Basically a long list of illegal stuff.

    Baltimore has proven that we have two alternatives, and neither of them will make the racially sensitive person happy.

    Either the cops put more attention to the high crime areas and apply the rules the same…  and accept blacks being over-represented in crime stops because they are over-represented in high crime areas.

    Or they pull back to placate those race-sensitive reactionaries complaining about blacks being over represented in crime stops… and then accept more crime.

    But again this reporting from the left media to constantly infer that cops are racists is political, partisan and the work of idiots.  Where is the rest of the critical analysis?

    Let assume that instead of approaching this with the assumption that all or most cops, white males and Republicans are racist, you approach it with the assumption that civil rights have marched forward and 10-15% of the population will always be ignorant and racist, but today since it is clear that a black man can become president, we really are no longer a racist nation.

    Now, might you have some more curiosity about root causes for the differences.

    Blacks have and demand their own culture separate from what is identifiable as American culture.  Asians more commonly assimilate into that standard American culture – which by the way, demands that we follow rules closely.  I think we are ignoring this question about black culture and how it contributes to more attention from the cops.

    Culture foments certain behaviors.   If your cultural behavior is to disregard certain behavior rules that are reflective of a law-abiding resident, then it makes sense that you would get more attention from cops.

    Instead of making this about race, we should be dissecting the cultural differences and the behaviors inherent in them.

    1. Don Shor

      Blacks have and demand their own culture separate from what is identifiable as American culture.

      We have a diverse culture in America that includes what “blacks have” and what others have. You have in the past been very disrespectful of other values and behaviors that vary from your own narrow definition of “American culture.” Black Americans are Americans, so what blacks “have and demand” is part of “American culture,” whether you like it or not.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          From our good friend Wikipedia:

          “In 1995, Sarah Thornton, drawing on Pierre Bourdieu, described “subcultural capital” as the cultural knowledge and commodities acquired by members of a subculture, raising their status and helping differentiate themselves from members of other groups.[3] In 2007, Ken Gelder proposed to distinguish subcultures from countercultures based on the level of immersion in society.[4] Gelder further proposed six key ways in which subcultures can be identified through their:

          – often negative relations to work (as ‘idle’, ‘parasitic’, at play or at leisure, etc.);
          – negative or ambivalent relation to class (since subcultures are not ‘class-conscious’ and don’t conform to traditional class definitions);
          – association with territory (the ‘street’, the ‘hood’, the club, etc.), rather than property;
          – movement out of the home and into non-domestic forms of belonging (i.e. social groups other than the family);
          – stylistic ties to excess and exaggeration (with some exceptions);
          – refusal of the banalities of ordinary life and massification.[4]

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subculture

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      I understand your points, but I think your terminology will throw off the PC crowd, and could have a bit more nuance.

      The cultural phenomena we are dealing with might better be described as the inner city subculture. This subculture has now been exported to places like Antioch (a formerly peaceful, boring suburb) from it’s neighboring inner cities. Any ethnicity can be a part of this subculture, but certain demographics are over represented. Economic historians like Dr. Walter William and Dr. Thomas Sowell sometimes refer to the black underclass. I believe Sowell dealt with this behavior in his book “Black Rednecks and White Liberals” (extensively researched and documented), and explains that it was imported from the white underclass of England.

      The children of Colin Powell, Dr. King, Dr. Ben Carson or Morgan Freeman aren’t part of this subculture. This subculture is portrayed on Jerry Springer or in rap music.

      I’ve been to Tampa, and saw lots of this behavior come out late at night. We went to historic Ybor City, a large area where Cuban cigars used to be made, and at night in turned into another world. I saw two young men square off in the middle of the street, one black, one white, and another black youth stepped off the sidewalk and cold-cocked the white youth in the head. His head bouncing off the cement was sickening. I was surprised by the amount of crime and lawless behavior in a water-side Florida city; I’ve read that things have improved.

      Frankly, can you answer a few important questions I posed last night in another thread? Thank you. (See the bottom of the page.)

      http://www.davisvanguard.org/2015/06/a-youths-perspective-on-the-need-for-innovation-in-davis/#comment-278692

    3. wdf1

      Frankly:  Instead of making this about race, we should be dissecting the cultural differences and the behaviors inherent in them.

      Or find a way to have such a family live next door to you so that you can personally mentor them on the ways to get ahead in life.  Many of them don’t have a role model like you.

      If that’s impossible, there are low income communities all around the Sacramento area, and various community groups out there to try to serve them.  They might welcome your time, service, and input.

      I’m more impressed by an individual who sees a social issue that he’s passionate about and finds a way to do something about it rather than rail against the world about how f****d up everything is, right up unto his deathbed.

  3. Tia Will

    Frankly

    No helmets.  Riding on the wrong side of the street.  Running stops signs.  “

    Here in town, I see these behaviors all the time from non black riders. I am not sure how you have come to the conclusion that these are somehow “black riding patterns”, or that they have anything at all to do with culture unless you are talking about “youth culture”. My son and many of my sons friends including white, Hispanic and Asian, made the obligatory trip to “hemet court” in Woodland. It seems that at least in Davis, there is no black monopoly on breaking the bike riding rules.

    Blacks have and demand their own culture separate from what is identifiable as American culture”

    One small problem. You and I do not even agree on what is identifiable as “American culture”. You seem to identify it as the nuclear family of my youth, the Father Knows Best culture, while I have a much broader view of what might be considered “American culture”. I would include all of the founding European cultures, all of the cultures that existed amongst the Native Americans that those Europeans drove off their lands, all of the African cultures that were represented by the slaves brought here against their will, all of the Chinese brought here for cheap labor, all of the Japanese who established as agricultural workers in Hawaii and along the Pacific Coast, all of those immigrants who came here as refugees of our wars foreign wars including and since the world wars. All have contributed to the “American culture” and in my view all should be celebrated for the positive aspects that they contribute to the shared culture. I am in complete disagreement with you that we have one dominant “American culture”.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      What is important about Hemet Court?

      There is a subculture that anyone can partake in, but there is a large ethnic makeup of this subculture. See my above post. The youth in Davis or Saratoga don’t behave like the kids from Brooklyn.

  4. Tia Will

    The points that I made were in direct response to Frankly’s post in which he implied that there was a special way of biking unique to African Americans. This is demonstrably false as witnessed by the variety of Davis children who have earned their parents visit to helmet court. There is absolutely nothing important or special about this court and that is the point. It is simply not a racial differentiator.

    I would also paraphrase your comment. I would say “some of the kids from Davis don’t behave like the kids from Brooklyn whose behaviors you are citing”. That is the problem with stereotyping. It generalizes from whatever behavior you are targeting to the entire group, a frequent source of error when generalized to the individual.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Actually, the majority of children from Davis don’t behave like the kids from Brooklyn. And then a chunk of kids who “act out” are still basically good kids who know what proper behavior is, they just want to parrot Little Wayne or whoever to be seen as acting cool.

      Are you that naive to not realize the day-to-day world that kids grow up with in Richmond, Oakland, or Brooklyn?

  5. Frankly

    There is an old  book called “Dress for Success”

    It makes a point that there is behavior that foments success, and you can be a rebel and do your own thing, but don’t expect others to adopt your s***.

    Unless you can make your s*** the new dress for success standard.

    1. Frankly

      I agree with that Tia, but I think you know what I meant.  There is certainly more than one path to happiness and success.

      This from Thomas Sowell says it pretty well:

      Most black children were raised in two-parent families prior to the 1960s. But today the great majority of black children are raised in one-parent families.

      Black Lives Matter Rally In Solidarity With Baltimore More than 50 people gathered outside the Capitol on Saturday in a show of solidarity with the protests against racial inequality and social injustice and the calls for reform happening in Baltimore and other cities around the nation.

      Such trends are not unique to blacks, nor even to the United States.

      The welfare state has led to remarkably similar trends among the white underclass in England over the same period.

      Just read “Life at the Bottom,” by Theodore Dalrymple, a British physician who worked in a hospital in a white slum neighborhood.

      You cannot take any people, of any color, and exempt them from the requirements of civilization — including work, behavioral standards, personal responsibility and all the other basic things that the clever intelligentsia disdain — without ruinous consequences to them and to society at large.

      Regardless if it is black culture or a black urban subculture, there are too many aspects of it that are the direct opposite of “dress for success”.   With some miniscule exception (primarily athletics and entertainment) it is those that break from this cycle of unsuccessful cultural norms that are truly successful.

      Liberals seem to have anger issues over white males dominating economic circumstances, and assign nefarious meaning to it (racism, gender-bias, etc.)   But today the barriers don’t exist at any level that justify that continued claim.  The fact that liberals continue the rant is very, very hurtful to the very people they claim to be advocating for.  They are pushing for an irrational transformation to rewrite the rules for what it takes to be successful.  But it does not work.  It isn’t “acting white”, it is doing what breeds success and whites just so happen to over-represent the population that do and value the behaviors that breed more success.   And before you tilt into your normal one-sided view of this being just an example of white bias, there is of course that inconvenient demographic of Asians… another group adopting the culture of success similar to whites.

      Change the culture to advocate and celebrate successful behavior and fix the problems in the black urban population.

      1. Tia Will

        Frankly

        No anger and no one sided opinion here. Just a simple question. Who do you believe set the standards for the “dress for success”  to which you subscribe ?

        1. Frankly

          Simple.  Previous success.  What works.

          Want to change it?  Fine.  Be a rebel.  Be a visionary.  Make it happen.  But don’t do the opposite of what other successful people/families do and then complain that you are unfairly left out.  Don’t adopt a culture of disdain for the law and acceptance of lawlessness and then complain about attention from law enforcement.

          And before you react to the narrative of white privilege, xenophobia, racism and gender bias, please note again that we have a black American President.  And note the rise of blacks into the top income levels.

          My board chair is a very successful African American gentleman and he is as critical of urban black subculture as I am.  Like me, he has “dressed for success” his entire life and has not taken the bait of victim mentality.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      There are certain truths, certain advantages that can’t be wished away by politically correct thinking.

      Saving money is better than being broke, or buried in debt.

      Graduating from high school, college, or even trade school is far superior to dropping out of school in the 11th grade, which means one really stopped paying attention ad learning in the 9th grade.

      Raising children in a two-parent family is far superior to a one-parent family.

      Truancy is a bad idea; repeated truancy is a horrible idea.

      People notice manners and politeness.

      You can break all of these truths or common sense observations and still hope to succeed. You can find isolated individuals who break all of these truths, and many others, and still succeed. But that would be the exception, not the rule.

  6. Alan Miller

    there is of course that inconvenient demographic of Asians… another group adopting the culture of success similar to whites.

    Have you walked around UC Davis in the past 20 years?

    I’d alter more to:

    there is of course . . . Asians… a . . .  group adopting a culture of success much better as a whole than anyone else.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      I would argue that they typically adopt traditional American values: marriage, education, working hard and saving money. Yes, things like Chinese “Saturday school” up the ante on hard work.

      East Indians, Ethiopian-, Nigerian-, Jewish-Americans, and others have also followed this same formula for success.

      We would also have other Western European ethnic groups represented if we allowed more immigration from those countries, but Ted Kennedy changed that.

      1. Tia Will

        TBD

        I would argue that they typically adopt traditional American values: marriage, education, working hard and saving money.”

        Are you serious ?  You believe that Asians “adopted” traditional American values….those you listed ? I would say that all of the groups that you have named have brought these values with them to our shores, not adopted them because they found them to be so much better when they got here !

  7. Alan Miller

    there is something uniquely different about how blacks respond to bicycling rules.  Riding without lights.  No helmets.  Riding on the wrong side of the street.  Running stops signs.  Riding with passengers on the handlebars.  Riding with one hand while balancing good on the other had.  Pulling stuff behind their bikes.  Basically a long list of illegal stuff.

    Either I’m reading this wrong or I’m rather appalled by it.  The implication that the above bicycle activities are uniquely violated by blacks?  Have you been outside in the last few years, even in Davis?

    Almost everyone “runs” stop signs, if you take the law literally; pulling stuff behind bikes is legal; riding with one hand is legal.  White people ride without lights all over Davis, I even saw an Asian without a light, once.  I actually did almost collide with an Asian woman riding her bike on the wrong side of the street on 5th a few weeks ago.  I wouldn’t have mentioned her race, except race seems to be your point; or, what the hell is your point here, and from what source are you drawing this from?

  8. Biddlin

    What I think is missing here is how much more often these encounters with police result in citations or worse for minority persons than whites. I saw this when traveling with a band. When local cops decide to see who the guys in the tour bus are and what they are up to, my interview takes two minutes, tops. My bass player is going to be awhile. They will check all criminal data bases, run checks for near spellings of his first name, check the serial number of his bass and once, he was asked for a dna swab. We are both about the same age, have very similar work histories and identical criminal ones.(None!) He is a well dressed, well spoken black man, I am an aging hippie in black Levis and promotional tee-shirts. I am almost always addressed as “Sir.” He is usually called by his first name. Having known each other and working together for almost forty years, we are used to this routine. He is more accommodating and forgiving to the police about it than I am, but then he has to be.

    ;>)/

    1. Frankly

      You saw this when and where?  I might be wrong but I think your band traveling days have long passed.  I am making an assumption here that you, like Tia, are fond of living in the past and fail to account for progress that disrupts your strongly held worldview.

      S*** has changed my guitar playin’ brutha from another mutha.

      1. Biddlin

        Last year in Brentwood, CA recent enough , my condescending neighbour? S*** aint changed enough. We actually observed how much less attention a mixed race group drew traveling and playing in Texas and Oklahoma, last year than in the “old days” but in Roseville and Brentwood, CA the memories were revived. You really do need to get out into the real world, more.

        ;>)/

        1. Frankly

          I am out in the real world all the time working and socializing with people of every group, and we all shake our head at the media circus reports and wonder what universe the rest of the world thinks they live in.

          1. Don Shor

            And yet, you thought the things that Biddlin described were a thing of the past, and said so.

        2. Frankly

          Like I said, living in some other dimension… or maybe just embellishing a bit to entertain.

          Or maybe this… someone a bit more hypersensitive and reactionary and prone to actually seeing things with race-tinted glasses when there is little or nothing to see.

          I find it really hard to believe that a black musician is going to get any more measurable attention than any other musician.  Never happened when I was a musician in the 80s.  I played with black musicians and I believe I was more often stopped and questioned because I looked a bit like a druggie… but it was because I was working a real job in addition to my band gigs, and didn’t see the sun much, and did not get to exercise much and was pretty skinny.

          1. Don Shor

            You thought the things he said were a thing of the past, and said so. He corrected you. So you think he’s lying or delusional. Got it.

        3. Frankly

          I suggested he was talking about the past because it is only in that context that his story line made any sense to me.  You people… I sware you are living somewhere else or in another time.  Or your interactions are so strangly unlike mine I have not a shred of experience that can connect.  Either stuff is being made up… embellished or exagerated… or I have not made it on the Hogwarts train to see what it all about.

        4. TrueBlueDevil

          It could be some of both, though I side more with Frankly’s views.

          These ‘grievances’ and observations from often white progressives often lack context and are based on false assumptions. Tia wrote several paragraphs a while back about how she was speeding, and a cop gave her a pass. She was unsure if this was economic, white, or female privilege … or timing. [my description.] But she seemed quite sure that a black motorist would not get this ‘pass’. I recounted being in a car with an ethnically mixed group of folks, and an African American friend was driving and was pulled over by police. He was speeding, had his blinker on for 2 miles, crossed the middle line several times, and had been drinking. The white officer – in a wealthy predominantly white area – let him off with an admonition, and promise that he would return directly to our hotel. I’ve never seen Tia or DP or others recount a story like this which runs counter to their mantra.

          I’ve met people in Brentwood, there is missing context there as well. Most all of the cities in that area were small, boring, peaceful places to raise a family. Areas with a higher black population had a much higher crime rate – i.e., Pittsburg. The past few decades as citizens of Oakland and Richmond have migrated to Antioch, the crime has soared. Formerly boring Antioch now has problems with gangs, graffiti, drugs, Section 8 housing, and violent crime. People aren’t blind to reality.

          FWIW, I know and have met minorities who live in Brentwood and they have expressed no misgivings.

          1. David Greenwald

            “I recounted being in a car with an ethnically mixed group of folks, and an African American friend was driving and was pulled over by police. He was speeding, had his blinker on for 2 miles, crossed the middle line several times, and had been drinking. The white officer – in a wealthy predominantly white area – let him off with an admonition, and promise that he would return directly to our hotel.”

            I ask you this question: let’s for a second take your story at face value, do you really believe that the exception disproves the rule?

        5. TrueBlueDevil

          Two points here:

          1. Why do you have to add the modifier “let’s for a second take your story at face value”?

          When Tia, or DP, or others recount alleged instances of improper, “racist”, or “micro aggressions”, I haven’t seen you do the same. It seems as if you believe it is a fabrication.

          2. Where are your facts that police act in an unprofessional rule towards African Americans? i.e., “do you really believe that the exception disproves the rule?”

          What seems to be a clear pattern are numerous instances of false or misleading accusations aimed at the police.

      2. Tia Will

        Frankly

        like Tia, are fond of living in the past and fail to account for progress that disrupts your strongly held worldview.”

        It is not me that is fond of living in the Father Knows Best, automobile subservient culture of the past that you promulgate. You just cannot seem to imagine any other way of structuring our society that what we have done for the past 50 years. So much for “living in the past”.

        1. Frankly

          Just saw this post.

          I think you make a reasonable, if half-baked, point here.  First, I am all for advances.  I am also all about risk taking if reasoned.

          But here is the thing… people need a foundation.  Societies need culture.  Kids need a family and parents.  We all need to be rooted well enough that when we extend our branches in progressive fits we do not topple over.

          Many of your demands are foundational.  I don’t see you as qualified to be messing with the foundation.  I do see you as being very useful working on new branches.

          You frequently make reference to the past as you just did here.  I don’t live in the past.  In fact, I am known to not remember much about my past.  But I do remember what works and recognize the value of strong foundation.  That is what I advocate for while also advocating for more branching.

          I think you are others are somewhat disenfranchised because history wasn’t kind enough to you or did not meet your expectations, and you hold a sort of grudge about it that makes you reference it frequently and drives your ideas for wanting to change things that are really not broken.

  9. Frankly

    Given that most of the Vangardians are recovering 60s hippies that used the “s__t” word and  “cool” as the main part of their vocabulary, I can’t see how this is a problem.

  10. PhilColeman

    Developing David’s 5:20am post: When is a “rule” a rule, and is the opposite instance always the exception to the rule?

    Not trying to mimic Socrates or anything with that rhetorical question, yet it does open up a possible discussion point that could be of value to us all. We have had several folks describing anecdote incidents from their own personal history, and then branding that single shared history event as the societal norm. It’s not uncommon to feel what our life experiences are, are reflective of life as a whole. And since everybody has some degree of bias based on a host of factors, we tend to side up with others with matching experiences–and scorn those who recount disparate stories.

    David  cited a personal story where an African-American was an DUI caught red-handed and not arrested. He then asked if this was the rule or the exception. It may have been meant to be facetious, but I find that question to be very profound.

    I’ve seen more instances than most of you would accept as remotely credible where racially-biased cops have not taken an African-American suspect into custody, even for a relatively serious crime. DUI’s are a prime example, the biased cop answers to higher bias than his inherent racism, “There but for the grace of God go I.” A perverse and illegal bond is formed with the police officer identifying with the suspect and forsakes his sworn duty. He let’s him go, despite the fact he was a public hazard, broke the law, and was black.

    Yet, what REALLY reinforces the profoundness of Mr. Greenwald’s story–and escaped everybody’s attention and judgment–is this. That Greenwald anecdote and all the many others like it that I witnessed escape every form of statistical measurement for arrest patterns of African-Americans, and every analysis of police behavior by the ACLU and similar police critics.

    So, again, is that “rule” really a rule? Possibly, the exception is the rule that has just escaped identification and calculation.

    1. David Greenwald

      Clarification Phil, that was True Blue’s anecdotal story and my response was to ask whether this was the exception or the rule. I don’t know. I do think this stuff is relatively complicated and I have been on enough ride alongs to know that race profiling, particularly at night, is difficult to do.

      1. PhilColeman

        David, tried to give you kudos but you rejected same. My error for wrong attribution and apologies to True Blue.

        As to what is the rule and what is the exception, in the select circumstance of traffic enforcement, I don’t know either. With many millions of traffic stops annually, it’s literally impossible to delve into the mind and motivation of each enforcer on each occasion.

        From all this, we might entertain the possibility that rules and their few exceptions are both open to question.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          In advance, thank you both for your feedback. I agree with Mr. Coleman that there are countless factors that come into play, but what is frustrating is that a certain segment of people want to boil down the whole world based upon one or two factors. I’ll add a bit to my story. The car was packed with people celebrating a wedding, and included the bride and groom. Did we get a pass b/c of the bride? Or because my friend is street smart, intelligent, was polite and non confrontational, and handled the stop well?

  11. Tia Will

    TBD

    But she seemed quite sure that a black motorist would not get this ‘pass’”

    No, I merely asked the question. You slipped over into “what Tia must think” because she is left of me on the political spectrum. I put forward a number of possibilities. You chose the one you believe that I must adhere to. I truly wish that you would let “Tia’s own words” express what Tia is “quite sure of “.

  12. Biddlin

    “it is only in that context that his story line made any sense to me.”

    A listening deficiency afflicting many economically comfortable folks in Davis, apparently. Just because you weren’t there and didn’t see it, don’t assume the narrative is embellished or delusional. That’s why so many folks don’t bother trying to tell their stories.

    ;>)/

  13. Tia Will

    Biddlin

    That’s why so many folks don’t bother trying to tell their stories.”

    I can vouch for the accuracy of this statement. Since joining the Vanguard editorial board and increasing my efforts to get more folks to post and contribute articles, the dismissive, closed minded response to divergent ideas is the main reason that I hear for people not choosing to participate. There doesn’t seem to be objection to others not sharing their beliefs, the objection is to the unwillingness to even consider that another idea might have some merit.

    The “beating a dead horse” comment on another thread this morning is just one example of this completely closed minded approach.

  14. TrueBlueDevil

    I worked with a young college student once who claimed that her boyfriend was a victim of racism because he was pulled over by a police officer for being in a wealthy area. This was 15 years ago. I nodded, and continued with my work. She brought this up several times, at group lunches, or after dinner drinks.

    I finally engaged the topic. I asked her if her boyfriend was black. “No, he’s Asian, he was pulled over because he is Asian, and was with his white girlfriend.” We happened to be near Starbucks in this wealthy burg, and she she said, “We were over their in his car, and the police were here, and they decided to pull him over due to his race.” As I probed further, she let out that this happened in December, at 7PM. “So, the cop saw that your boyfriend was Asian from 150′ away, at night, at a poorly lit intersection, and decided to pull him over … WHY?”

    “Well, they claimed it was because he ran a red light, but my boyfriend is half Asian, and you know how this town is …”I think as she spoke out loud, the idiocy of her comments were even apparent to herself, that he was pulled over because he was Eurasian… not because he ran a red light… and most likely the officer couldn’t tell who was driving the car that time of night, at that distance.”

    It’s flimsy stories like these which have become the norm.

  15. Tia Will

    TBD

    It’s flimsy stories like these which have become the norm.”

    What I see is that you have taken one “flimsy story” and decided that based on this evidence, flimsy stories are the norm. Seems like pretty flimsy reasoning to me. This is equally as inaccurate as saying that racism always plays a role. How likely we are to believe that racism is involved in any given circumstance is based on our perceptions based on our history. We are objectively unable to see inside the heads of the involved individuals, so we color their thoughts and actions with our own biases.

    1. TrueBlueDevil

      Not one story, but my story on how ludicrous and superficial many claims of racism are.

      On a national level, allegations of racism are often hurled within hours or days of any type of crime or confrontation before facts are even available. It appears to be the automatic go-to allegation, some combination of progressive thinking and political correctness – which is very anti intellectual.

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