From Face the Nation on CBS this past Sunday:
SOLEDAD O’BRIEN, DOCUMENTARY PRODUCER: You know, it’s interesting, even though the killing of Eric Garner opens our documentary, I think anybody who thinks that what is happening right now is only about Eric Garner or only about Michael Brown, is really missing what is happening in black America.
It was fascinating to hear the chief talk about what they’re focused on. He has where his community, he talked about culture, he talked about transforming how you interact with people. What you actually realize is that those aren’t the words that Commissioner Bratton used.
He talked about retraining, he talked about cameras. It’s a different philosophy. African Americans feel that they are treated differently in the criminal justice system. They are treated differently under the law. There is this aggressive targeting of black people that doesn’t happen in white communities. And it’s that anger over so many years that is really percolating up now.
SCHIEFFER: Do you think that is a valid feeling that they are being treated differently?
O’BRIEN: Look at the statistics. If you look in New York City at stop and frisk, we measured between 2,000 — these are police numbers. We looked at them for our documentary. Between 2002 and 2012 there were 5 million stops; 83 percent of those stops were blacks and Latinos; 90 percent of those people who were stopped, 90 percent, that did not move onto an arrest, it not move on even to a summons.
Those people had done nothing. So 90 percent of the blacks and Latinos that were stopped in stop and frisk in New York City didn’t do anything. Imagine what that does to a psychically to a culture if you fit the description, which means you’re a black male, 19-25.
SCHIEFFER: Were most of those stops, when they stopped, were those in high crime areas?
O’BRIEN: Often in high crime areas, absolutely.
SCHIEFFER: So you wouldn’t see that as justification that you might operate differently in areas where there are lots of crimes than in areas where there are relatively — ?
O’BRIEN: I think the challenge is that it’s not being applied proportionally. For example, you have — if you are arresting and stopping people who are — many of them haven’t done anything, you create a culture in that community, even a high crime community, where people feel like they are being criminalized. Even those, as we saw in our documentary, who haven’t done anything. We had a young man we talked to named Keshon (ph), who has been stopped a hundred times, 100 times at least. He has been stopped in front of his college; his professors walking by, his classmates going by.
At some point I think it becomes very damaging to these individuals but also to a community that understands, this is unfair.
People have taken this whole “Black on Black” crime thing so far that nobody’s stopping to realize the negative effect it has on the innocent people who live in these communities.
I understand there are Blacks who commit crime. I also know there are Whites, Latinos, Asians, and others who commit crime as well. We don’t see dehumanizing policing priorities targeting any of those communities to the extent documented under New York’s Stop and Frisk policy though.
I know that police have a tough job and have to make split second decisions. I have no issue with that. I can’t say that I agree with the overt targeting of any one specific community over all others though.
If someone wants me to say that such policies are fine, then they need to be enacted across the board. For every Stop and Frisk of a Black or Latino person because of suspicions, there needs to be a Stop and Audit of someone from the financial district in Lower Manhattan. That’s where they credit default swaps took place that wiped out the finances of millions of Americans. There needs to be a Stop and Audit of people working in banks and other financial institutions as well. They’re complicit in the responsibility for the financial crisis that we’re still recovering from.
Until that day comes, I can’t agree 100% that such policies are worth it or even are Constitutional in relation to the 4th Amendment. Thanks to people like Mrs. O’Brien and others who understand what people on the other side of the line of justice are going through.