Bias Policing Impossible To Change In The Face Of Denial
Police bias in community relations is as complicated a subject as one could encounter. There are what happens to a man or woman who puts on a uniform with a gun on their hip and how a historically traumatized community reacts to police officers. Throw in an unresolved race massacre and a day of the week designated for terrorizing African Americans in Tulsa, and you have Tulsa still digging the hole of their problems. Hard place to start talking about equality indicators where bias seems like too nice a word for what is going on between people of color and law enforcement. The difficult truth needs to be fleshed out before change is possible.
Jennifer Eberhardt the author of Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice that Shapes What We See, think, and Do” was in Tulsa last week to lend her expert voice to Tulsans grappling with historic police violence; more clearly the shattered relationship between Tulsa Police Department and African Americans. Clearer still, how does police shooting black citizens effect day-to-day life in neighborhoods and trust in law enforcement? The answers are difficult, and they will require enormous patience. Tulsa is sick of beating around the bush though.
Eberhardt told a crowd last week at Rudisill Regional Library the difference between implicit bias and unconscious biases and how that affects behaviors. She also said police are more likely to see people of color as purveyors of high crime. There is truth in some cases and usually overreaction on everyone’s part.
In many cases a white child will have had zero interaction with police until they are an adult. A black child will have a negative relationship with law enforcement very early in their life. The incident at Town Square Apartments where the police aggressively questioned black residents, in front of Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum and Tiffany Crutcher were a perfect example of what is wrong. Everyone had a wildly different perspective of what happened in what could be described as dual eyewitness account of the same incident.
Town Square is a symptom not the problem. One has to peel this problem back further to see the problem. Past studies show that community policing works. Tulsa Police Department (TPD) tried it for reasons passing understanding dropped it and drove out proponents of progressive policing. Bringing it back is going to take rebuilding trust. Trust doesn’t come easy for traumatized people. Perhaps more facts and understanding are needed.
If one doubts historic trauma, they need only learn about the horrors of the 1921 race massacre. And don’t know when it started or when it ended, but there were the unofficial police beat down of African Americans in Tulsa called N-word Night. Instead of debating how real or recognized it was, many understood Friday night was a good time to not be out. This is mentioned here not to drag out police bigots; rather it is to demonstrate why there is little trust and fear of TPD.
Studies show that black police uniforms are more likely to create fear and anxiety. So are paramilitary uniforms. Other cities switched to plain clothes and the results were startling. Fewer assaults on police and citizens followed. The lighter colored uniforms or suits were less threatening but also were seen as weaker. Four hundred police departments changed their uniforms in hopes of creating better police relations. In truth crime has declined for the most part since progressive police policies were enacted. Unfortunately, Eberhardt reported racial bias against African Americans has persisted. Also, it’s true police shootings of African Americans remained high during the reporting periods.
Even if Tulsa goes from 97 percent of their community policing goals to 100, the real change will not be from checking boxes off their list, it will be through profound and sweeping behavioral changes. It will take new leadership and more officers of color. It will take changing everything.
Coalition Of Oklahomans Rally Against Caging Children At Ft. Sill
Pretty clear thoughtful Oklahomans are not interested in housing immigrant children in this state and certainly against reactivating Ft. Sill as the holding center for people of color. The descendants of past victims of inhuman detention rallied together to oppose caging children seeking asylum and treating them like criminals.
Native Americans, Japanese Americans were joined by Black Lives Matter and many other groups to protest plans to all Department of Human Services into a “temporary emergency influx shelter” to hold undocumented children.
Any thoughtful person with an ounce of compassion would have joined the protesters last weekend to oppose this action. How in the world did this nation get to this point? It’s all part of the plan that works on so many levels.
Basically, the administration of Donald J. Trump has decided to galvanize the base by being as cruel as possible to address immigration. Past policies would have tried to deal with the core issues like violence and poverty in other countries. Try to remove the reason for leaving. It’s costly and takes patience. However so is building a primitive wall and spending billions of tax dollars to fund cruel policies. Some of the children detained, or more precisely imprisoned will stay in that situation until they are 18 years old. If that sounds cruel, it is meant to. It is to satisfy Trump’s base supporters who he has taught to hate immigrants fleeing for their lives.
Much of this is the bent ravings of Stephen Miller, the white nationalist and senior advisor on policy. However, never has bent ravings been turned into official policy like is being done in the Trump White House. Today wildly cruel tactics are the new norm. This should shock not numb feelings about people fleeing for their lives.
There was a time the old tactic of calling immigrants coming from Latino nations illegal aliens was in vogue. They were no longer called people or poor people fleeing Hellish conditions to enter America seeking asylum. Which is legal and humane. However, an alien is a thing, it’s not human, and has no rights. It is to be feared and because it isn’t human it can be hurt with impunity and treated like an animal.
America is better than this and Ft. Sill should not be used to imprison children trying to escape death and grinding poverty. Anyone else would do the same to protect their families The Oklahoma Eagle joins other Americans of good will in opposing the evil immigration policies of Trump and Miller.