by Ron Walters, NNPA Columnist
As I looked at the Black superintendent of police in New Orleans, Warren Riley, on television recently, justifying the killing of a Black man on the streets of the city by his police force – perhaps by bullets fired by the lone Black policeman among the three – I knew that this was not a result for which the civil rights movement was fought.
For some time, a major goal of the movement has been to obtain more Black police, more Black judges, more of everything, in the hope that the quality of justice for Blacks would improve, but it doesn’t seem to have made much difference. This hints at the failure of many Blacks who have become law enforcement professionals to take the civil rights movement inside the institution with them.
Looking through a number of websites and statistical sources, it is difficult to say whether police killings of Blacks is rising or falling. But the facts gathered by INQUEST show that reported police shootings reached a peak of 400 in 2001 and dropped to 200 in each successive year thereafter.
Nevertheless, these killings disproportionately involve Blacks and Hispanics, 57 percent of whom reported in 2001 that they’ve had violent encounters with police, a rate twice that of whites. The number of violent incidents has grown all over the country – in Cincinnati, New York, several cities on the West Coast, Florida, and repeatedly in New Orleans.
Are Black police officers part of the solution in these cases, or are they firing their weapons at the same rate, trying to fit into an often violent, racist police culture? And even where Blacks are leaders, have they adopted that culture as a way of insuring their mobility in the system?
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