(This article is being reviewed for publication in the Qualitative Sociology Journal)
The Mass Delusion of Systemic Racism in the United States
This article demonstrates that systemic racism or a systemic problem with excessive force in policing in the United States qualifies as a mass delusion. Race is no longer a source of disadvantage within the legal, political, and economic processes which are most determinative of individual opportunity. Emphasis is on the popular assertion of systemic racism in policing while also identifying the functions that produce the misconceptions and the underlying cause of racial disparities typically stemming from class. Recent examples used to promote systemic issues of racism and excessive force are analyzed to demonstrate they lack the qualities required for them to be examples of the aforementioned systemic issues.
Table of Contents
Racism’s Promoting Interests
Proportional Contact and Causation
Across the country there have been riots and protests caused by a baseless assertion of systemic racism in policing. Baseless because out of 55 million police contacts per year there are perhaps a dozen controversial examples of excessive force by police. (1) Even if these examples were non-controversial examples of excessive force by police, it is not representative of normal policing in consideration of the volume of interaction that takes place between the police and the public, and therefore does not represent a problem with policing. Furthermore, when there is probable cause that an officer violated the law in the application of force the officers are prosecuted.
1: Elizabeth Davis, Anthony Whyde, BJS Statisticians, Lynn Langton Ph.D., former BJS Statistician, 10/11/2018 “Contact Between the Police and Public, 2015”. Bureau of Justice Statistics. https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6406
The assertion of racism requires one of two elements to be valid. 1: Something in the interaction must show that an officer’s treatment of a suspect was motivated by the suspect’s race and not by the suspect’s behavior. 2: An assertion of police racism requires an example of how black suspects are treated differently than white suspects. There is no example of a black suspect being treated in a way in which a white suspect has not been treated under similar circumstances. There are parallels, for example George Floyd’s death in police custody is similar to Tony Timpa’s death in police custody where Timpa was restrained by officers for 13 minutes similarly to Floyd. (2) The shooting of Antwon Rose who was shot as he ran from police is similar to Ariel Roman, an unarmed white man who was shot twice by officers as he fled. (3)
2: Dallas Morning News, 7/30/2019 Youtube “Dallas Police Body Cameras Show Moment Tony Timpa Stopped Breathing”. https://youtu.be/_c-E_i8Q5G0
3: Chicago Sun Times, 4/28/2020, Youtube “COPA Releases New Videos of CPD Shooting On Redline”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDACJujDWM8
There is no basis for systemic racism in policing or a problem with the excessive use of force by police based on a marginal number of controversial examples of policing compared to the volume of interactions the police have with the public. Upon closer inspection, most of the examples provided do not even qualify as excessive force when all the circumstances and points of action are considered.
George Floyd is not a very good example of excessive force by police causing an in custody death. First, the officers had no reason to believe that the amount of force they were applying was harming Floyd in any way. The amount of force applied was minimal which is clear based on the video evidence. First, we know his airway was not being obstructed not based on the fact that he could talk, but based on the volume and the duration with which he was able to yell. (4) Second, we know the force applied by officer Chauvins left knee which was on the neck of Floyd was not great based on the ease with which Floyd was able to move. Third and most importantly because it is testable, is the position of officer Chauvins left foot. Chauvins left foot is pointed outward while he is leaning on the front of his right foot with his knee on Floyd’s neck. If you put your right knee on an object roughly 7.5 inches high (roughly the height) of a back, and left knee on something about 6 inches about a 18 inches spaced apart, (roughly the height of a neck) pushing forward with the right foot on the ground, and your left foot turned out to the side (as Chauvin’s foot was) you will realize you cannot put much pressure on your right knee from that position. (6)
4: Doug Winfield “Full George Floyd Available Footage” 5/28/2020 Vid ID1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DNX8-PWCi6E&bpctr=1600571299 Between 11:15 to 12:30 in the video Floyd is very vocally active speaking loud, clear, and consistently.
5: (Winfield) 12:30 to 13:16. Floyd is able to move his back and even his head with the officer’s knee on his neck. At 12:42 Floyd lifts his head from the ground with the officer’s knee on his neck.
6: (Winfield Vid ID1) The position of officer Chauvin’s feet 12:46. The position of the feet do not change throughout. I have the video up from the previous note and that time shows the position referenced.
The autopsy revealed that Floyd had 90% narrowing of 2 arteries, multiple drugs in his system and was infected with Covid-19. (7) Floyd began resisting the moment he was asked to exit his vehicle. He was seated. (8) He was escorted to a squad car and refused to enter the squad and the officer wrestled with Floyd trying to get him into the squad car. (9) When he threw himself to the ground the purpose of restraining him was to gain acceptance of the outcome that he was going to jail and he was powerless to resist.
7: The autopsy revealed that Floyd had 90% narrowing of 2 arteries, multiple drugs in his system and was infected with Covid-19. Toxicology “Fentanyl 11 ng/mL, Norfentanyl 5.6 ng/mL, 4-ANPP 0.65 ng/mL, Methamphetamine 19 ng/mL, 11-Hydroxy Delta-9 THC 1.2 ng/mL; Delta-9 Carboxy THC 42 ng/mL; Delta-9 THC 2.9 ng/mL, Caffeine.” pg 2 “Viral testing (Minnesota Department of Health, postmortem nasal swab collected 5/26/2020): positive for 2019-nCoV.” pg 10 Cross sections of the vessels show multifocal atherosclerosis, with 75% proximal and 75% mid narrowing of the left anterior descending coronary artery; 75% proximal narrowing of the 1st diagonal branch of the left anterior descending coronary artery; 25% proximal narrowing of the circumflex coronary artery; and 90% proximal narrowing of the right coronary artery. To put those numbers into perspective “Very severe heart disease, or stage 4, has three or more vessels with over 50 percent blockage.” John Hopkins Medicine, 1/11/2017, “Updated Classification System Captures More People at Risk for Heart Disease”. (https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/updated_classification_system_captures_many_more_people_at_risk_for_heart_attack) Not only did Floyd have a bad heart compared to healthy people, he had a bad heart compared to people who have bad hearts.
8: (Winfield Vid ID 1) at 1:50, the officer physically removes Floyd from the vehicle. At 2:02 his partner joins him in the effort to gain Floyd’s compliance. One of the officers can be heard telling Floyd to put his hands behind his back. At 2:20 a passenger from the vehicle witnessing the resistance states “stupid man”, presumably in reference to Floyd resisting arrest. Once Floyd is handcuffed at 2:31, he falls to the ground resisting efforts to be escorted by the officer, and falls to the ground again at 2:43 before he complies and is seated next to a store.
9: Doug Winfield 8/10/2020 “Raw George Floyd Minneapolis Police Body Cam Footage”. Vid ID 2 6:05 to 11:25 https://youtu.be/0gQYMBALDXc
Floyd under the influence of these substances was likely entertaining delusions about what it meant for him to go to jail. His behavior worsens at each point where he draws nearer to being taken into custody. When the officer removes him from the car and begins walking towards the building Floyd attempts to throw himself to the ground. When he is sat against the building he calms slightly because this position doesn’t represent progress towards him being taken into custody. In his mind there is some chance he isn’t going to jail. His behavior worsens when he’s walked across the street and the officers attempt to put him in the squad car he resists since being put in the squad car represents being taken into custody and this outcome is unacceptable to Floyd.
At each point Floyd draws nearer to being taken into custody his perception of drawing nearer to that outcome increases his stress levels. Each time Floyd physically resists he increases his blood pressure through the physical effort he’s putting into the act. While on the ground being restrained by 3 officers it is difficult to know how much effort Floyd was putting into those acts since one man pushing against 3 officers may produce imperceivable results. For example, if you push as hard as you can against the wall you may be exerting a great amount of effort, but whether you are pushing with all your strength or you only have yourself positioned as if you are pushing next to the wall, the wall doesn’t move.
According to the medical examiner Floyd died of a heart attack, and while his conclusion also states that Floyd being restrained contributed to that outcome, nothing in the autopsy details supports that conclusion since there are no injuries caused by the acts of restraint that contributed to the cause of death. (10) Injuries recorded are cuts and scrapes and bruising. (11) The private autopsy deviates at a point of opinion but is an opinion not supported by the facts. There is no way to know whether Floyds heart stopped, or if a lack of blood and oxygen to the brain caused the heart to stop. It’s at odds with the facts because the pressure being applied to the neck area was not great enough to prevent him from forcing air through it to yell, he was able to move his upper body without great difficulty, lift his head off the ground despite the officers knee being on his neck, and the consistency of force applied by the officer means had Floyd’s circulation or breathing been obstructed, he would have lost consciousness long before he did. To clarify, the officers didn’t appear to apply more force when Floyd lost consciousness than they did at any other time, meaning if the force was obstructing circulation or breathing he would have lost consciousness much sooner than he did. The autopsy also states that there was no laryngeal damage which would be evidence of excessive pressure being applied that obstructed the airway.
10: (Baker) pg 1 “CARDIOPULMONARY ARREST COMPLICATING LAW ENFORCEMENT SUBDUAL, RESTRAINT, AND NECK COMPRESSION”
11: (Baker) pp 7, 8, lists injuries, minor cuts and abrasions. Pg 9 Pertaining to the neck “ …no areas of contusion or hemorrhage within the musculature. The thyroid cartilage and hyoid bone are intact. The larynx is lined by intact mucosa.”
Floyd died as a result of his perception of the outcome being arrested which elevated his stress levels as he drew nearer to being taken into custody, stress levels that were amplified through physical resistance, while his cardiovascular and respiratory systems were compromised through the drugs in his system (fentanyl, methamphetamine,THC), a respiratory infection, and advanced underlying medical conditions. The restraint being performed by the officers should not be expected to cause death and did not cause George Floyd’s death.
The assertion of excessive force is controversial at best and there is no basis for Floyd’s treatment by law enforcement being based on anything other than his behavior. Was George Floyd stopped by police because he was black? No he was identified by witnesses as a man trying to pass a fake $20 bill. When he was resisting when asked to exit the vehicle did officers use excessive force to gain his compliance? No. Throughout the entire process there was nothing that suggested Floyd’s treatment reflected anything other than his behavior. It is not an example of racism because there is nothing in the event that indicates race motivated treatment, and Tony Timpa, who resisted less was restrained similarly to how Floyd was restrained and died due to underlying medical conditions aggravated by drug use while being noncompliant and restrained. As an example of excessive force for the reasons mentioned in the previous paragraphs, it is a difficult case to make. Yet George Floyd’s death has been the catalyst for police reform when it fails to be even one clear example of excessive force, and is in no perceivable way evidence of racism.
Most importantly, even if George Floyd’s treatment represents the application of excessive force, it doesn’t represent a systemic problem in policing because it is one incident against the backdrop of 55 million police contacts. In a field where force is required to gain the compliance of suspects that do not want to go to jail, and law enforcement officers that are required to take these suspects to jail, there will be incidents where the force applied is in excess of what is required. If incidents of excessive force cause injury and violate the law officers are prosecuted for those acts. The officers were arrested and charged with crimes for how they handled the effort to arrest. These arrests were primarily to appease the public and the officers should be acquitted, but an incident cannot be considered a systemic problem when it is a rare occurrence, and when the system doesn’t support the actions of the officers. A systemic problem would exist if officers who used excessive force were encouraged to do so by procedures of police departments and if the legal system did not prosecute officers for the use of excessive force. This is why the roach theory (for every incident that’s known there’s 1000 that are not) doesn’t have any merit because the examples being cited are not even examples of racism or excessive force in policing.
Racisms’ Promoting Interests
Reality is arbitrary, people consume information that reinforces their biases and so long as there are others who subscribe to the same bias, facts are established through popularity not observation. There is no requirement to establish what systemic racism in policing is and how the functions of modern policing represent that definition. If there is systemic racism in policing, or even if there is a systemic issue of police using excessive force it means the policies, procedures, and application produce regular occurrences of excessive force. While there are far more complaints than the public is aware of, the best examples are those that make national headlines and even these examples are controversial at best. A systemic problem with policing doesn’t produce a handful of controversial incidents per year, a systemic problem represents at least 100s of clear examples daily out of 150,000 police contacts per day.
The media’s business model consists of attracting attention to sell advertising. The stories reported are stories that reinforce viewer bias and they are presented through a lens that reinforces that bias.
Activists are not motivated by solving problems, they are motivated by material rewards and image promoting benefits for the organizers, and the feelings inherent to social interaction and moral feelings rooted in ideas of justice. They’re not motivated by solving problems because a person who is motivated by problem solving understands the functions that produce the problem, and if they did, they would understand that the problem they are so adamantly against does not exist. They wouldn’t avoid people who do not subscribe to their point of view, they would seek out their opposition to qualify their problem and address the misconceptions of the opposing view. Instead they make signs, chant slogans, yell opinions, and destroy and steal property when the opportunity presents itself.
Politicians reinforce bias as it benefits their image to those whose opinions they are concerned with so long as it does not obstruct their ability to represent the interests of industry who fund their campaigns and direct public policy. Since people lack the will to understand the issues, they attach themselves to the opinions of the people they like and they consider these opinions fact.
From the general population, most only associate intimately with people who are of a similar socioeconomic status as they are. White advantaged people associate with other white advantaged people and having little to no experience with law enforcement or white people who are disadvantaged accept the narrative of their political biases. They assume all white people are advantaged as they and the white people they know are which reinforces the idea that the issues in this country are racially motivated.
Industry recognizes the popularity of causes and openly supports the causes to associate their brand with a cause that is popular. Brand associations with causes that lack factual legitimacy contribute to the illusion that an issue exists when such an issue does not.
Academics understand that research and opinions that reinforce popular biases provide them the opportunity for attention from the media to support promoted narratives, as well as funding and attention for their work. (12)
12: Marianne Bertrand, and Sendhil Mullainathan, July 2003,. The paper is called “Is Emily and Greg More Employable than Lakisha and Jamal”? NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH https://www.nber.org/papers/w9873.pdf This is an old paper that has probably already been dismissed by the academic community but it is still cited by the media (Trevor Noah) and activists (was mentioned to me in recent comment exchange). I’m citing it as one example of many where researchers conduct biased research to reinforce popular ideas. There is a long history of research showing prejudice against unique names irrespective of racial attachment. By using names that are nearly exclusive to a minority of the population this causes these names to be unique within the population. Since there is causation for prejudice in the uniqueness of names, using unique names associated with a racial minority produces bias in the uniqueness of names which the researcher can attribute to a racial bias in hiring. These kind of studies should feature another group using all white sounding names, half common, and half unique some of which are suggestive of socioeconomic status where I immagine Heather-lynn and Cletus probably have as much difficulty as Jamal and Lakisha receiving call backs on their resumes.
The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha is another example of systemic racism in policing to those who have an interest in the promotion of the idea. People are persuaded by the substanceless opinions of people like Greenbay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who without explanation gave a quote to the media that the shooting of Jacob Blake represented a systemic problem. (13) The media who has an interest in promoting the idea since it is news people watch didn’t ask why or how the incident represents not only racism, but an example of systemic racism in policing.
13: Julia Marshall, 8/25/2020 “There’s a Systemic Problem: Aaron Rodgers Shares Message About Police After Jacob Blake Shooting.
Brian Urlacher also voiced his opinion and after doing so the Chicago Bears distanced themselves from his comment and a former teammate offered a substanceless response that is presumably much more popular than Urlacher’s comment.
Urlacher posted to his instagram “NBA players boycotted the playoffs because a dude reaching for a knife, wanted on felony sexual assault warrant was shot by police”.
Former teammate Matt Forte responded on twitter “The comment [Urlacher] posted is void of empathy, compassion, wisdom and coherence, But full of pride and ignorance! I pray for those who have been blinded by their wealth, privilege and earthly fame that breeds arrogance in their hearts. And those who refuse to acknowledge racism and injustice but instead choose to place their energy into justifying it by quickly judging the victim’s life as if they themselves are more valuable because their sins are different or weren’t caught by man. But God sees all.” (14)
14: Jordan Greer 8/29/2020 “Former Bears Running Back Matt Forte Responds to Brian Urlacher’s Criticism of NBA Players Boycott.” https://www.sportingnews.com/au/nfl/news/matt-forte-brian-urlacher-bears-nba-player-boycott/4t8hsc1osdne13uabi3ese4v9
Urlacher’s comment is about function. The effect being NBA players boycotting the playoffs, caused by a man being shot, because he was wanted by police, and was in possession of a weapon.
Forte’s comment does not address the substance of the comment, instead it seeks to persuade others value of Urlacher through opinion (his comment is void of empathy, compassion, wisdom and coherence,But full of pride and ignorance!), and goes on to suggest that Urlacher’s circumstances are what motivated him to post the comment (which is another effort to persuade value), and implies Urlacher is guilty of things he hasn’t been caught for, all while reinforcing ideas of racism and injustice for which there is no basis, and he doesn’t provide any basis for those assertions. His point about justification where Urlacher draws attention to the individual’s crime could be relevant if there was anything from Urlacher’s comment that the warrant was mentioned for the purpose of implying he deserved to be shot because of the charge. This isn’t implied from the comment, what is implied is the officers were acting in a lawful capacity in efforts to arrest Blake because Blake had a warrant for sexual assault.
We have an incomplete argument of function and arguments of value in response. The only function alluded to in Forte’s response was that Urlacher’s comment was caused by his success in life which blinded him to the injustice that he didn’t need to qualify because the assertion is popularly accepted.
Urlacher’s comment vaguely represents the key points of function. 1: The police were called because Blake refused to leave a woman’s house. They learned of the warrant from dispatch in responding to the call. 2: According to the witness who filmed the incident, prior to the recording, officers tried to take Blake into custody, wrestling, punching, and tasing Blake. 3: Blake successfully resisted officers who followed him to the drivers’ side of the vehicle. 4: Blake reached into the vehicle and according to his own statement grabbed a knife. 5: An officer grabbed his shirt and ordered Blake to drop the knife. 6: The officer shot Blake who refused to drop the knife.
The facts are not in dispute. (15) The point of controversy is whether Blake posed a threat of great bodily harm or death to the officers when he was shot? This is the general legal standard for the use of deadly force.
15: BBC 8/31/2020 “Jacob Blake: What We Know About Wisconsin Police Shooting”. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-53909766
5 years ago when the unnecessary use of deadly force by law enforcement was as popular as it is today, I wrote the Criteria for Deadly Force and Enforcement, (16a) and I use this criteria to determine whether or not the use of deadly force is justified. It is more precise and holds officers to a higher standard than the current legal standard. The criteria states: “The use of deadly force is justified against any suspect who is an immediate threat to life.
(16a) http://orioncs.net/cdf/ The a designation is because I was not able to put this reference in the article submitted to the journal because it identifies who I am, and the review is blind. I have to manually copy my footnotes from the doccument, and I did not want to add a footnote where my 16 would become 17 and so on and so forth. So I did 16a and 16b to preserve consistency.
An immediate threat to life exists when an individual possesses the means to cause mortal harm, (1) and where there is no point for action to be taken prior to an action that can cause death. (2).”
A note on the distinction of weapons reads: “An individual armed with a non-ballistic potentially lethal weapon can be judged to be an immediate threat based on the same idea (same idea is in reference to previous portion of article not excerpted pertaining to ballistic weapons): what steps must be taken by the suspect to cause a lethal result? In the case of non-ballistic weapons, the urge to use deadly force should be reserved, since rarely is the suspect situated where he or she is able to make a move towards inflicting a mortal injury without officers being in a position to prevent it. Officers who encounter a suspect with a non-ballistic weapon, for ease of example we will use a knife, have already drawn their weapons and in a fraction of a second officers are capable of neutralizing the suspect. For this reason, range is to be considered, the distance a suspect with a non-ballistic weapon should be from any potential target to be considered an immediate threat to life, is the length of the individual’s arm, plus the weapon, and two feet. Generally speaking, an individual cannot be an immediate threat to anyone with a non-ballistic weapon, if he or she is more than 8 feet away from a target and officers have guns drawn.”
In the Jacob Blake shooting, those circumstances qualify him as an immediate threat to life because he is in striking distance of the officer. There is no point for the officer to intervene if he chooses to swing around and stab the officer with the knife, where if the target is the neck or even in the leg the officer can die as a result of that action.
I’m not of the opinion that it isn’t open to debate whether Blake was an immediate threat to life with a knife in hand and in spinning striking distance of the officer, but that is where the controversy is. This is another controversial example of excessive force by police, not a clear example, and to me for substantive reasons is justified and doesn’t serve as an example. To others, based on bias this is an example of a systemic problem of racism in law enforcement (16b) but there is no factual basis for that position. It is the adoption of an opinion without fact because it supports a bias that is popularly reinforced and promoted for the material and personal interests of those who are promoting it.
16b: Jay Sorgi 8/25/2020 “A Systemic Problem: Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on Jacob Blake Shooting in Kenosha”. https://wtmj.com/news/2020/08/24/a-systemic-problem-packers-qb-aaron-rodgers-on-jacob-blake-shooting-in-kenosha-video/#:~:text=%E2%80%9CThere’s%20a%20systemic%20problem.,being%20far%20from%20Green%20Bay.%E2%80%9D Rodgers calls the shooting a systemic problem without offering any explanation for the opinion, which is not rooted in fact, and is probably beyond his capability to define what systemic racism in policing is based on function.
A few years ago In Pittsburg, drive-by shooting suspect Antwon Rose was shot while unarmed running from a car identified as a car involved in a drive-by shooting. The law governing deadly force in Pennsylvania allows an officer to use deadly force against a fleeing suspect if that suspect is considered a threat to public safety. There are a few problems with that justification. The first problem is that despite that car having bullet holes in it and matching the description of the car involved in the shooting, the car had been out of sight of law enforcement. This means there is no guarantee that the occupants of the car are the same occupants suspected of being in a gunfight. This means any occupants fleeing the car may not be the same people who were in the car previously and would not qualify as a threat to the public, if the act of shooting from the car qualifies them as a threat to public safety. Second, if there are bullet holes in the car this indicates that the occupants of the car may have been fired upon first since witness testimony could be the product of bias for the people where they live, where the incident occured. Which means the occupants do not qualify as a threat to the public. Third, even the act of shooting at people who they have a personal dispute with does not qualify them as a threat to public safety because their hostility is directed towards specific individual’s for personal reasons, and there is no reason to believe that if they eluded law enforcement they would be an immediate danger to the public.
The right to life, liberty, and property cannot be deprived of any US citizen without due process. Law enforcement officers are tasked with apprehending people who are suspected of breaking the law where legal processes will determine facts, how the law applies to those facts, and innocence and guilt based on a jurys’ interpretation of fact and the application of law. The police cannot shoot people who are running from them by arbitrarily applying a label that the suspect if he is allowed to escape is a threat to public safety.
I don’t believe Antwon Rose was an immediate threat to the life of the officers or anyone else when he was running from that car and there is also nothing to suggest that he was an imminent threat to public safety if he was able to escape.
The officer was charged with the shooting. He was acquitted of the shooting based on Pennsylvania law that gives officers the authority to shoot a suspect to prevent escape if the suspect is believed to have committed a forcible felony or poses a great danger to public safety. This is not evidence of racism although I personally believe it is an example of excessive force which is why I’m referring to this case years after it happened because it is a clear example of injustice. It also doesn’t represent a systemic problem in the application of the law, it represents the choice of the people of Pennsylvania to allow officers to shoot suspects of forcible felonies to prevent escape. If you do not want to live under such law then you need to change the law or change your state. The law can be challenged by persuading popular opinion and using that popular opinion to encourage lawmakers to change the law, or challenge the law based on the constitutionality of the law that imposes on a suspect’s right to due process by allowing law enforcement officers to arbitrarily decide a suspect who has not been convicted of a crime is a threat to public safety and shoot him. Because people do not know the law, the acquittal of the officer seems like a problem because “officers are charged but not convicted”, except that according to the law the officer didn’t do anything wrong.
This example, that should be wrong, does not represent racism and does not represent excessive force according to the law. It represents a problem with the public not knowing the laws that govern the use of deadly force and represents a law that probably is not constitutional. Law enforcement officers arbitrarily deciding who is a threat to public safety is in conflict with the principle that no person shall be deprived of life without due process. Along with public safety the Pennesylvania law states that officers may also shoot a fleeing suspect if he has committed a forcible felony. (17) This is also in conflict with due process because the idea hinges on the presumption of guilt, where an individual has been accused of a crime and law enforcement decides he committed the crime and may be shot if he tries to escape. If it isn’t the assignment of guilt, then the distinction between shooting a suspect who tries to flee for these crimes and not shooting a suspect who has committed lesser crimes, would be of no consequence, because the accused of both crimes are supposed to be presumed innocent. The law allows the officers to decide guilt and execute, which is not due process.
17: Paula Reed Ward and Shelly Bradbury, 3/22/19 “Former Officer Micheal Rosfeld Found Not Guilty in Death of Antwon Rose”. Pittsburgh Post Gazette. https://www.post-gazette.com/news/crime-courts/2019/03/22/michael-rosfeld-trial-verdict-antwon-rose-police-shooting-east-pittsburgh/stories/201903210103
This incident is from 2018, where even if it did serve as an example of systemic racism in policing in the application of deadly force it represents 1 incident out of about 170 million police contacts occurring over the last 3 years.
Proportional Contact and Causation
Although the Covid-19 hysteria where the exaggerated danger of the virus has resulted in great and unnecessary restrictions on the lives American citizens is probably responsible for the decrease, assertions of systemic racism in policing are occuring in a year when the shooting of black suspects is projected to be down about 30% from the previous year and represents perhaps an all time low. In 2019 there were 235 black suspects shot by police. As of August 30th 2020 there have been 123 black suspects shot by police. August 30th represents 8 out of 12 months or 66% of the year. 33% of 123 is 40 which gives us a projected total of 163 black suspects shot by police in 2020. 163 black suspects is 72 fewer than 2019 and represents a 30% decrease. (18)
18: Statista Research Department, Aug 31, 2020, “Number of People Shot to Death by the Police in the United States 2017-2020, by Race”. https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/
Academics often assert that black suspects are shot at a rate that exceeds the proportion of black people in the general population. (19) The proportion of crime committed by black people is also greater than their proportion to the general population, and roughly equal to contact. (20) The assertion of a racial disparity is based on the proportion of black people among the population when there is a proportional connection to contact. It would be like claiming racial causation if black people were disproportionately the victims of drowning, but owned a disproportionate amount of pools that was equal to the rate in which they were victims of drowning.
19: Ian Thomsen 7/16/2020, The Research is Clear: White People are not More Likely to be Killed by Police than Black People”. Northwestern News. https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/07/16/the-research-is-clear-white-people-are-not-more-likely-than-black-people-to-be-killed-by-police/
20: OJJDP Statistical Briefing Book. Estimated number of arrests by offense and race, 2018. Available: https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/crime/ucr.asp?table_in=2. Released on October 31, 2019. 10.3 Million Arrests 2018, 2.8 million were black suspects representing 26.6% of crimes. Previous citation (FN20) asserts black people represent 25% of police shootings but represent only 12% of the population. Black people are shot by police proportional to contact. White people are also likely shot proportionate to contact. Hispanic ethnicity is not separated from white in BJS records. However, hispanic people represent roughly 18% of the population and commit crimes at a rate that is higher than white people but lower than black people. A conservative estimate that 20% of the crimes assigned to white people (7.1 million) in this data is committed by hispanic people leaves white people responsible for 5.7 million out of 10.3 million crimes representing 55.5% of crimes. According to Thomsen white people represent 54% of police caused deaths. It’s also interesting that the hispanic crime rate is above whites who have a higher median income than hispanics but lower than blacks who have a lower median income than hispanics.
Why do black people commit more crimes? There are correlations between poverty and crime as well as income inequality and crime. 2011 cross section analysis between crime and poverty found “Income inequality is positively related to all three types of crime (robbery, assault and homicide). As money is distributed more evenly, all three types of crime should decrease.” (21) The median pre incarceration income of incarcerated people is nearly half that of the general population. (22) The lower the income levels a male is born into the greater the likelihood that he will be in prison in his 30s. (23) Correlation or causation between crime and poverty isn’t very controversial. The income of a child’s family also impacts the child’s development, where high stress households have been shown to cause physiological changes to the brain that impacts intellectual development. (24)
21: Luke Fleming 2011, “The Relationship Between Crime and Poverty: A Cross Section Analysis of the World”. Bryant Economic Research Paper Vol. 4 No.7 Spring 2011. “Income inequality is positively related to all three types of crime (robbery, assault and homicide). As money is distributed more evenly, all three types of crime should decrease.”
22: Bernadette Raybuy and Daniel Kopf, 7/9/15 “Prisons of Poverty: Uncovering the Pre-incarceration Incomes of the Imprisoned”. http://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/income.html
23: Lucius Couloute, March 22, 2018, “New Data Highlights Pre-Incarceration Disadvantages”. Prison Policy Initiative. https://www.prisonpolicy.org/blog/2018/03/22/brookingsreport_2018/
24: Victoria Tennant, The Powerful Impacts of Stress. John Hopkins School of Education, http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/strategies/topics/Keeping%20Fit%20for%20Learning/stress.html Source: Daniel Goleman, “Emotional Intelligence”, Bantam Books 1997, p.27″Continual emotional distress can create deficits in a child’s intellectual abilities, crippling the capacity to learn” Number one source of stress according to American Psychological Association survey is money. Jeannie Kim and Health.com 02/18/2015 “This is the Number One Source of Stress in America.” ABC News,https://abcnews.go.com/Health/number-source-stress-america/story?id=29029565 These were old notes I’ve extracted from an earlier article which is why they’re dated, but relevant in that no new research contradicts the findings.
The decision making process consists of 3 elements after the individual has identified a valued objective based on circumstances. Energy required versus the value of the objective, consequence, and morality. Consequence consists of the probability of the outcome and the severity of the outcome. However, the severity of the outcome isn’t a decision of experiencing the outcome versus not experiencing the outcome. The severity of the outcome is relevant in how it compromises the ability of an individual to achieve long term objectives. Poverty predisposes people to crime not because they have nothing to lose but because they otherwise have nothing to gain. The consequence of going to jail is less meaningful because their long term goals are either not worthwhile or are perceived as being effectively unobtainable. This means the value of any act where serious criminal consequences may occur is almost always greater than any long term objective that would be compromised should they experience the negative consequence associated with the act.
Past systemic racism consisted of black people being denied opportunities for education, employment, housing, other services, and experienced prejudice by law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Such disadvantages have left a disproportionate number of black people impoverished and poor which is why black people commit a disproportionate amount of crimes. Of course there are more than twice as many white people living in poverty as black people, and even more who can be considered poor, which is why white people commit more crime than black people commit overall, and make up the bulk of police shooting victims.
If past systemic racism is responsible for black people being unable to accumulate wealth to pass to succeeding generations what is responsible for white people being poor? Those without money to finance their own ideas to produce products and services must rely on the labor market to earn money. When the wages one earns is roughly equal to their expenses these people also do not have money to pass on to succeeding generations and their progeny remain poor as well. Poor black people today have entered into the world that poor white people have lived in since the founding of this country.
Since a disproportionate number of black people are economically disadvantaged every race comparison is a reflection of economic causation that opportunist academics project onto race. There is going to be a disparity between black and white people overall based on the proportion of black people who are economically disadvantaged versus the proportion of white people who are economically disadvantaged despite white people being the majority of economically disadvantaged people in this country. Opportunist academics thirsty to draw attention to their work, procure funding, and enjoy the spotlight use economic causation to assert racial causation to reinforce racial biases.
Narrow scope research has attempted to assert racial bias in employment. Racial discrimination in unemployment generally, where this would represent a systemic problem is undermined by the general unemployment trend between black and white people in the workforce. If there is a racial bias for white employees, when there is an economic downturn that causes unemployment rates to rise, the unemployment rate of black people would rise while the unemployment rate of white people would lag behind and rise much slower. The function being companies that are downsizing retain their white employees and fire their black employees first. Secondly, when there is growth and recovery and unemployment rates begin to fall, the black unemployment rate would fall much slower. During recovery the availability of white job seekers would allow employers to hire white people at an advantageous rate. The trends do not show a significant difference in the rise and fall of unemployment rates between white people and black people. The trends show that during economic contraction that the unemployment rates for black and white people increase at about the same rate, and during expansion the unemployment rates decline at a similar rate. Survey research and experimentation if other causation can be controlled for does not represent general discrimination in unemployment or it would be reflected in the trends.
25: William M. Rodgers III Race in the Labor Market: The Role of Equal Employment Opportunity and Other Policies, The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences December 2019, 5 (5) 198-220; DOI: https://doi.org/10.7758/RSF.2019.5.5.10
The unemployment rate of black people is higher than the unemployment rate of white people and this has been a consistent trend for decades. Again this isn’t about race, it is about class where the opportunities available to poor people are inadequate and discourage poor people from seeking employment opportunities. If the unemployment rate between black people and white people is considered based on income and wealth distribution levels, I surmise that as is the case with most other race based assertions the discrepancy will disappear.
It’s difficult enough for people to go work a job that they don’t enjoy doing when their salary is enough to comfortably sustain themselves and provide them the means to the things they like to do when they’re not working. To work a job you don’t want to be doing which isn’t only the work itself but also subordinating yourself to authority of the businesses structure when the wages being paid are insufficient or barely sufficient to meet your expenses while not affording you the means to do as you please in your free time is discouraging. While it may seem obvious that unemployed people will be among those in the bottom of the income distribution, what is meant by that statement is beginning from a low income family limits development and leaves people without the means to create their own opportunity. People beginning poor creates a greater likelihood that people will choose not work which is why black people have a higher unemployment which is probably similar to the unemployment rate of white people who begin poor.
The comparison of criminal justice outcomes by race is also misleading, not only because class is a determinative element in outcomes, but due to the diversity of factors considered in sentencing. Criminal history, character witnesses, employment, the general opportunities and support a defendant has, variations in the perspective of judges, as well the circumstances of a crime are all elements that determine sentencing outcomes.
Pre Civil Rights Act rhetoric is thriving in a Post Civil Rights act world because ideas of systemic racism advance the personal interests of the media, politicians, academics, activists, and most importantly industry. Systemic racism occurs when the systems are prejudiced against a group based on race. When an employer can refuse to hire you because you’re black. Where you cannot rent an apartment because you’re black, purchase products and services at business because you’re black. Where in certain areas you can be severely beaten or killed and all white jury acquits your attacker. Where you didn’t have the same opportunities for education. We know what systemic racism looks like because we have been PRECEDED by generations that have participated in racist systems.
Although a history of systemic racism has left black people disproportionately poor as a race, they are no more disadvantaged today than the poor white people who outnumber them at least 3 to 1. The poor white masses have been facing the same systemic disadvantages that black people are facing today, which is a lack of means to create or position themselves to take advantage of meaningful opportunity. Instead those whose interests it serves to advance issues of race: the media, politicians, academics, industry, activists, and those who enjoy the feelings associated with ideas of justice who are not actually committed to justice perpetuate this myth.
Without arguing about each specific controversial event which typically amounts to 4 to 6 per year that make national news we can know unequivocally that there is no problem with systemic racism in policing or a systemic issue in the application of force by law enforcement. 1st and foremost because the number of events compared to the number of contacts represents inevitable exceptions to the normal application of force, not normal policing. 2nd, there is no evidence from any event that the treatment of a suspect has been motivated by race and not behavior, and there are no examples of black suspects being treated differently than white suspects are treated who behave similarly within similar circumstances. There is no factual basis for systemic racism in policing, a systemic problem with police using excessive force, or race absent class as a source of disadvantage.
The biggest mystery to me is whether academics knowingly conduct bias research to advance their own personal interests to the detriment of the species, or if they are really too stupid to realize that causation is a product of proportional contact not proportional residency. While I believe the former is much more likely than the latter, the latter is still plausible based on the propensity of human beings to choose paths of study that reinforce bias while avoiding information that challenges biases. The general population engages in the same behavior, the difference is they accept opinion as fact based on whether it is consistent with other things they like, whereas the career minded self serving researcher is tasked with misrepresenting data and providing faulty conclusions for the pitchmen (media, politicians, celebrities, and other influential people) to present to the public.
A delusion is a belief or altered reality that is persistently held despite evidence to the contrary. The belief, or better yet the reality that systemic racism is a problem in the United States is an idea that is persistently held and promoted despite clear evidence to the contrary by at least half the population. If words have meaning systemic racism, or a systemic problem with the excessive use of force by police qualifies as a mass delusion on par with middle age superstitions like witches float.
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