One of the issues inherent in the Freddie Gray case, and maliciously superimposed on virtually every law enforcement agency in the nation is “profiling.” Like virtually every other conflict in the ongoing culture wars, the media exploits a reality which is not widely known: those supporting the rule of law–the police, ethical prosecutors, much of the public and at least some of the courts–and those seeking social justice–race hustlers, community organizers, the Democrat Party, the Obama Administration and all of its arms, and the self-imagined social and intellectual elite–have very different definitions of common, easily understood terms, “profiling” among them.
Ethical police officers understand racial profiling to be giving undue attention to individuals merely, perhaps even mostly, because of their race. They have no doubt such attention is the result of indefensible prejudice, and rightly see anyone behaving that way as a social pariah. They see such behavior as unprofessional and counter-productive, and they have no time for it. They’re simply too understaffed and overworked to waste time watching the innocent of any race. Their calculations are based on experience and daily reality. Officers working an entirely black district, for example, know the patterns of the residents and outsiders that prey on them, and they focus on those behaviors and patterns, not the race of criminals.
For social justice warriors, such as the Federal Department of Justice, profiling is determined by statistics–when they bother to present any “proof”–or simply because black people–they care little for other races–are over-represented in arrests and convictions throughout the country. They see this–regardless of the reasons for those arrests and convictions–as a great social evil, and so they work to change the statistics. Changing the behavior of criminals is very difficult, and if those criminals are a preferred victim group, clients of the Democrat Party, and reliable voting bloc, this approach amounts to little more than preventing the police from arresting black criminals and changing–crippling–the criminal justice system to make black criminals essentially immune from serious punishment, including incarceration, regardless of their crimes.
This piece from CNN illustrates not only the progressive mindset, but the media’s obsession with the issue. The backdrop? Ferguson, Missouri, where Michael Brown, a drugged felon, robbed a store, tried to kill a police officer and was justifiably killed by former Ferguson officer, Darren Wilson.
The municipal court judge in Ferguson, Missouri, on Monday announced sweeping changes to the city’s court system, including an order to withdraw all arrest warrants issued in that city before December 31, 2014.
Municipal Court Judge Donald McCullin, who was appointed in June, also changed the conditions for pretrial release. According to a press release put out by Ferguson, all defendants will be given new court dates with alternative penalties like payment plans or community service.
The sheer lunacy of this should be evident. Even if one assumes an error rate of 10% in the issuance of arrest warrants, how can one justify simply dismissing the other 90%? Arrest warrants aren’t just written up by police officers. A police investigation is forwarded to the prosecutor, who reviews the case, and if sufficient evidence is found, a warrant is issued. Bench warrants are issued by judges when people skip bail, violate probation, fail to pay their fines or fail to appear in court. Even if 60% of these warrants were issued in error, how can dismissing the 40% that were not make any sense if the administration of justice and public safety are the concerns of those involved? For social justice cracktivists, the rule of law and public safety are the least of their concerns.
Those caught for minor traffic violations should be less likely to end up behind bars because of McCullin. Under the new policy, they won’t be arrested but instead will be released on their own recognizance and given another court date.
The CNN authors obviously have no idea of reality. Virtually everyone given a misdemeanor traffic citation is released on their own recognizance after signing a promise to appear on a particular date. This paragraph is nonsense. Notice CNN’s slant:
These moves come after a year of often emotional protests and an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department after racial tensions exploded over the August 2014 shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson, who is white.
A grand jury declined to charge Wilson in that case, determining that the shooting was justified. A Justice Department investigation further concluded the shooting did not violate Brown’s civil rights.
Right. So Wilson was justified, except he killed an “unarmed black teenager.” Of course, CNN omits that the unarmed black teenager was drugged, robbed a store to steal cheap cigars to smoke more pot, and assaulted and tried to kill Wilson.
Those decisions did little to quell anger on the St. Louis suburb’s streets tied to that incident and others over the years in which some felt police unfairly singled out African-Americans. A separate Justice Department report found many such examples. The report was soon followed by the resignation of Ferguson’s then-embattled police Chief Thomas Jackson.
Anecdotes do not proof make, unless one’s brain is social justice impaired.
One woman active in the protest movement said she thinks Monday’s actions by McCullin show the demonstrations made a difference.
‘As an activist you are going to stay mad because you are not going to always get all that you want,’ said Patricia Bynes, the Ferguson Township Democratic committeewoman.
‘But because of the pushing and the pressure that protesters put on Ferguson, I am considering it a win and a very big win. It’s an olive branch.
Inadvertent honesty in the social justice crowd–rare indeed. Bynes is absolutely correct: such people are always angry, incapable of being satisfied, always ready to find injustice and prejudice where it does not exist, or at the least, to blow it greatly out of proportion where it does. As always, preventing the police from doing their jobs and the criminal justice system from functioning most harms those victimized by thugs: blacks, and the poor It is they that are, by enormous margins, the victims of black criminals.
In March, the U.S. Justice Department civil rights investigation found that Ferguson police and the city’s municipal court engaged in a ‘pattern and practice’ of discrimination against African-Americans.
For example, in 88% of the cases in which the Ferguson police reported using force, it was against African-Americans. Also, between 2012 and 2014, black drivers were twice as likely as white drivers to be searched during traffic stops, but 26% less likely to be found in possession of contraband.
I’ve addressed this in depth in Update 12 of the Michael Brown case series. This represents the improper use of statistics to reach a pre-determined conclusion. In brief, the Ferguson population is at least 63% black. A high rate of contacts of black Ferguson residents with the police is hardly unexpected. The Justice Department’s report is devoid of the factors absolutely necessary to properly understand raw statistics. How many contacts involved black police officers? What was the nature of the contacts? When black people were arrested, what was the result of the charges/trials? In other words, did they do the crimes for which they were charged? Of course, this sort of analysis would tend to produce results opposite those the Obama DOJ was determined to manufacture. Consider this subtitle:
Ferguson still pumping out arrest warrants’
Now because of McCullin’s move, warrants — many of which are from traffic tickets and fines people couldn’t pay, as well as failure to appear in court — have been wiped clean.
The court will revisit those cases, with new warrants issued only if a defendant fails to show up in court later, the city explained. And all suspensions of driver’s licenses are now null and void.
Again, lunacy. The only way such charges could be “wiped clean,” would be to entirely dismiss them, to throw away all traffic tickets, to forgive traffic violators their original fines and any additional charges and fines resulting from their refusal to pay those original fines, and to dismiss all warrants for people who refused to appear in court to answer criminal charges. In other words, everyone falling into those categories got away with whatever offenses they committed, in any number. Ferguson has just become a law-free zone, at least for black people.
These changes should continue the process of restoring confidence in the court, alleviating fears of the consequences of appearing in court and giving many residents a fresh start,’ McCullin said in a statement.
Remember that this is a judge saying this. One does not appear in court as a defendant unless one has been charged with violating the law. The consequences of appearing in court are fines, probation and jail time. What sort of “confidence” in the courts is established by making it clear one can violate the law with impunity based on race? And if these people don’t appreciate their “fresh start,” why should they believe that they have anything to fear from the criminal justice system? Even if the police are so foolish as to arrest them, they don’t have to show up in court. They can ignore subpoenas; no arrest warrants will issue, and even if they do, if they ignore those warrants long enough, they’ll eventually be dismissed en masse to build more civic “confidence.”
But Arch City Defenders, a nonprofit legal aid group that has sued Ferguson over its ticketing practices, doesn’t think the judge went far enough.
‘There are real questions about the legitimacy of the stops in the first place brought up by the DOJ and Arch City Defenders as well,’ Arch City Executive Director Thomas Harvey said.
‘If they want to do something in the interest of community healing they should just get rid of those cases. Blank slate. Start over. And move on.
Classic social justice thinking. Under the rule of law, if the police did something wrong, the mechanisms are present for judges to dismiss such cases entirely, or to modify or even eliminate punishment for a conviction. The criminal justice system is not in the business of “community healing”–whatever that is–but in dispensing equal justice and upholding the rule of law.
Harvey also pointed out that McCullin has to retire in six months because of state-mandated age limits for judges. The advocacy group leader worries that — because the order is voluntary and not part of a decree that would be overseen by a higher court — there is no guarantee the city will comply.
‘You’re asking the community to trust you after years of creating distrust,’ Harvey said.
And what is this “distrust” the city created? Darren Wilson did exactly what he was hired to do and exactly what the law demanded and authorized and he lost his career and any hope for a reasonably normal life. Ferguson was ravaged, untold millions were lost in damaged businesses, properly values have dropped to less than 50% of their pre-riot values, and no rational business will invest in Ferguson, which continues to be the focus of “black live matter” and similar social justice agitators. Again, notice the alarmist subtitle:
Ferguson still pumping out arrest warrants
The ticketing and arrest warrant issue didn’t necessarily go away with the Justice Department report’s release or the new order. An exclusive CNNMoney analysis earlier this month found the city was still pumping out thousands of new arrest warrants and jailing people over minor offenses.
By that point in 2015, the city had already issued more than 2,300 new arrest warrants for the year and thousands of older warrants continued to haunt people — even as neighboring municipalities are wiping out old tickets or warrants entirely.
In this context, arrest warrants are issued as a matter of normal policy and procedure for people who do not obey the law. Starting with a small traffic violation, they refuse to pay the ticket or show up in court, so a warrant is issued. If they showed up and could not pay, every court has procedures to deal with that, which do not necessarily require jail time, and any jail time is generally brief, normally just a few days, unless the person is a serial violator, which many are.
Unless going to court is a painful experience for lawbreakers, there is no reason to have courts or a criminal justice system.
Brendan Roediger, a Saint Louis University law professor and attorney who has represented some defending themselves against the tickets and warrants, called the new moves a good start but not the endgame many want and deserve.
‘It’s real and it’s important,’ Roediger said. ‘They deserve to be given credit for it. I applaud Judge McCullin. It’s meaningful. It’s significant.
But ultimately, it is not the solution. (City officials) may do some good things out of pressure, but without a system that creates full-time professional courts, there isn’t a system that is sustainable and fair across the board.’
Ferguson’s Municipal Court is one of 83 part-time courts across St. Louis County. Too many of those courts, Roediger said, have engaged in similar practices that have disproportionately and unfairly affected the poor and people of color.
‘The combination of racial profiling and revenue-based policing creates massive animosity between people in the community and police. It does not increase public safety.
What Roediger and CNN are not bothering to mention is that the courts do not “disproportionately and unfairly” affect “the poor and people of color.” Courts deal with people who appear before them, a matter over which they have no real control. Of course, social justice cracktivists assume that anyone belonging to their favored victim groups arrested for any reason must have been profiled or unlawfully harassed by evil, racist police. While such a thing is always possible, mechanisms exist to deal with that, in police agencies and in the courts, on a case-by-case basis. That’s not what the social justice warriors want. They want blanket dismissals of all charges and warrants from the past, and certainty that their favorite victim classes will be immune from arrest and punishment in the future. To their way of thinking, this would somehow atone for past evils and pave the way to a better future.
Of course, it also provides votes and other political advantages, which have nothing to do with public safety.
As to “revenue-based policing,” I’ve not seen any credible evidence that’s what was happening in Ferguson. Many are ready to believe that the police universally have ticket and arrest quotas. While this sort of unethical practice does crop up from time to time, it is rare. The truth is far more mundane and not at all helpful to a social justice narrative.
Anyone driving virtually anywhere will be witness to multiple traffic violations. Any police supervisor noticing that one of his officers hasn’t written a ticket in a week is absolutely justified in wondering whether that officer has actually been awake while on duty. He is also justified in reminding that officer that part of his duty is traffic enforcement, and not just any tickets, but legitimate, reasonable tickets.
Regular readers know I’m not at all shy about criticizing the police when it is warranted, but I’ve yet to see the evidence that would support such criticism in this case. Rather, I see a push by the Obama Administration to suppress effective policing and to force an unequal, dangerous and destructive system of preferential justice, based on race, on America. Whether this is a means of keeping a traditional constituency of the Democrat Party enraged and voting in the 90th percentile for a Democrat presidential candidate, or merely anti-American agitprop (it can certainly be both) is difficult to pin down, but this has nothing whatever to do with the rule of law or justice for all.