White attorney stops police arrest of innocent black man’ screamed the headlines this morning.
Here we go again, I thought.
Yet another inflammatory case involving white American cops racially profiling black people and acting inappropriately.
This seemed a particularly ugly example. The man concerned, Dennis Stucky, is 64, disabled and a well-known local handy man who’s lived in the neighbourhood of Foxhall Cresecent, Washington for 30 years.
The white attorney, Jody Westby – who knew Mr Stucky and had previously employed him – raced out of her house to confront the two police officers arresting him and demanded to know what the hell they were doing.
‘We have a burglar alarm,’ one officer replied, ‘he’s coming with bags.’
It turned out the incident had occurred nearly a mile away in a completely different neighborhood.
Furthermore, there was in fact no burglary at all. The home owner concerned had accidentally keyed in the wrong number to his garage, setting of the alarm.
So an innocent black man minding his own business was being arrested on suspicion of committing a burglary that never even happened.
All captured on video by another neighbor.
But here’s the twist…
Both the arresting officers were black themselves.
My cynical old news hound eyes bulged wide at that revelation.
Everything I had presumed about this story just changed dramatically.
These weren’t racist cops, they were just bad, lazy cops.
Now, let’s consider this story in a different way.
What if the police had been white?
Then, I strongly suspect all hell would have broken loose. Mr Stucky would have become a cause celebre, feted by black activists and liberal media as a racially profiled victim abused by ‘racist’ cops.
And what if the cops had been white and the heroine attorney had been black?
As Washington Post columnist Clinton Yates points out, the two black officers show Mrs Westby, a white, educated woman, ‘an incredible amount of leeway and deference’. He adds: ‘She’s pointing her fingers and gesturing toward the car window. That’s the type of behaviour that coming from many other people would be considered dangerous, threatening or violent in some way.’
He’s absolutely right. There has been a spate of incidents recently that unfortunately show exactly what some white American policemen do when faced with black people behaving in what they perceive to be a ‘dangerous, threatening or violent’ way.
Three happened within a few miles of each other in the last month alone:
Unarmed black teenager Michael Brown shot dead by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri.
Young black shoplifter Kajieme Powell shot dead by two white cops in St Louis, Missouri after stealing two energy drinks from a store and urging them to ‘Shoot me! Shoot me!’
This week, black teen Vonderrit D. Myers, 18, shot dead by a white cop in St Louis. Police chiefs claim he had a gun, his family insist he was only brandishing a sandwich. Shades of George Zimmerman gunning down 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was armed only with a bag of skittles.
In another dreadful episode recently, a white cop in South Carolina shot an unarmed black man called Levar Jones at a gas station just outside Columbia.
The video is absolutely shocking. The cop challenges Mr Jones for a highly spurious alleged ‘seat belt violation’ and then demands he show him his driver license. As Mr Jones slowly turns back to his truck to get the papers, the cop becomes hysterical, repeatedly screams ‘GET OUT OF THE CAR!’ and then opens fire.
‘What did I do, sir? Why did you shoot me?’ cries Mr Jones as he lies on the ground, wounded. (He survived, thankfully).
To which the obvious conclusion, I’m afraid, is that you were shot because you were black and therefore inherently suspicious, Mr Jones.
A fascinating poll published on Wednesday detailed the huge disparity between the way whites and blacks view race issues.
Just 16 per cent of whites believe there is a ‘lot’ of discrimination in America today – compared to 56 per cent of blacks.
Incredibly, white perceptions of anti-black bias have plummeted to the point where many think anti-white bias is a bigger problem.
A plainly ludicrous sentiment. Blacks in America remain the most impoverished, poorly-educated, imprisoned and discriminated-against section of society. To pretend otherwise is to be seriously deluded.
However, it’s also an incontrovertible truth that the place where most young black Americans are shot dead is Chicago – and the vast majority are killed by other young black Americans, in the ongoing gang wars that shame that city.
My belief is that America remains a racial tinderbox. Many people assumed Barack Obama’s ascent to the highest office in the land meant the end of racism in the United States.
‘How could we elect a black president if we’re still racist?’ was the logic.
But if anything, I’d argue that America is now more racist than it was before Obama was elected.
Or at the very least, the angry racist minority (but still many millions of people) is more vocal – enraged by the whole notion of a black man living at the White House.
Having said that, America is clearly massively less racist than it was 40 years ago. It has come a long way, very fast.
What is desperately needed now is a sustained period of calm, rational reaction on all sides to the myriad incidents that occur on a daily basis in the United States where race might be seen as an issue, even where it isn’t.
I was all ready to explode with indignation over the treatment of Dennis Stucky.
It still angers me, but not as much as it would have done if those cops had been white.
That is obviously an inexcusable shift in emotion on my part. But it’s the inevitable consequence of America’s tendency to view everything through the prism of race.