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How do we think about institutional racism in the American police force? Show more Show less
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On June 8 2020, Minneapolis City Council announced it would be dismantling its police force. In its place, they pledged to introduce a new model for public safety, free from the institutional racism that had plagued its police. The decision was unprecedented, and yet, it has been followed by similar moves across the US, for police budget cuts and investigations into how they are run. At the heart of this debate is the question of institutional racism: where it comes from, how it manifests, and how it can be overcome. Following George Floyd's murder, pressure has grown for perceived systemic oppression to be addressed. Others argue that this is a myth, and that police are being victimised for the ills of society. The way that people are mobilising around this question reveals the fundamental ideas that drive their perspectives. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

'The police are not the issue!': The police should not be blamed for the problems of a racialized society Show more Show less

This position believes that the police are the standard bearers of law and order. Limited government is fundamental to protect individual liberty. Strong police are required to protect limited government. Whether institutional racism is real, or a myth, focusing on the role of the police is both misleading and counterproductive.
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African Americans are predisposed to criminal behaviour

The data doesn't lie. African Americans are responsible for 52% of homicides, and yet make up just 12% of the population. This group are prone to violent criminal behaviours. The unequal level of police interaction - of all kinds - with African Americans must be read within this context. Were African Americans less predisposed to dangerous behaviour, police time would not be so unevenly spent on shielding the public from them. Proponents include CUNY Criminology Professor Barry Latzer, who notes high black incarceration rates “are best explained not by race bias, but by exceptionally high African American crime commission rates and the imposition of prison sentences for conduct previously punished by jail or probation.”

The Argument

Statistics from both the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI have illustrated that African Americans, usually men, commit the highest number of crimes across all racial groups. [1] [2] Victim reports also often corroborate these statistics, which weakens the claim that these statistics are the result of a racist criminal justice system. The issue of “black on black” crime is often overlooked or undiscussed in liberal politics due to efforts to appease their voter base[3], but the issue continues to plague African American communities. This might be due to a higher tolerance for violence within African American culture. There have also been studies that report a higher number of African American men possess a gene that is linked to aggressive or violent behavior.[4] Historically there has been support by African American community leaders for the expansion of the criminal justice system during the 1960s through the 1980s which saw an increase in crime rates related to drugs and disorder, often within African American communities.[5]

Counter arguments

African Americans are not predisposed to criminality because there is no scientific evidence to indicate that race is an indicator of criminal behavior. Statistical analysis of the FBI and BJS data is often cherry-picked to support the ‘black on black’ crime issue. While there are many factors that influence crime, poverty being a large one,[6] there is no scientific basis to support that race plays any role in why people commit crimes in general. ‘Black-on-black’ crime is considered an offensive term among left and left-leaning political groups, believing it has been used to label African Americans as more criminally inclined when many crimes are intraracial across racial and ethnic groups.[7] The study claiming that the MAOA or ‘Warrior Gene’ is found in African American males also states that it is present at nearly equal or higher levels in Maori, Taiwanese, European, and Chinese males, debunking the theory that African American men are somehow more aggressive than men in other racial groups.[8]

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/htus8008.pdf
  2. https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/ucr/
  3. https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2016/05/24/black-black-crime-blame-system-ignore-evidence/
  4. https://www.tremr.com/Duck-Rabbit/african-americans-possess-violence-gene-researchers-find
  5. https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2019/04/22/michelle-alexander-is-wrong-about-mass-incarceration/
  6. https://www.theroot.com/why-we-never-talk-about-black-on-black-crime-an-answer-1819092337
  7. https://abcnews.go.com/US/black-black-crime-loaded-controversial-phrase-heard-amid/story?id=72051613
  8. https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/02/20/chasing-warrior-gene-looks-like-dud-far/

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This page was last edited on Saturday, 5 Sep 2020 at 21:39 UTC

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