bloomberg’s gaffe

Another Bloomberg gaffe

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that police “disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little” as compared to murder suspects’ descriptions….

In Michael Bloomberg’s defense, I don’t think Mr. Bloomberg’s statement is necessarily evidence of underlying racism on his part, though it is certainly a sign of a lack of tact. But that’s why he has a spokesperson:

“What they should be outraged by is the number of minorities who are being killed and that successful police efforts to save minority lives are being hampered,” he added.

It’s hard to know what to make of this. Bloomberg is focusing on the numbers, but ignoring the people. Pundits who are critical of him are looking at the people, but not the numbers.

My thought? We need mechanisms to protect people, and that sometimes puts greater focus on certain demographic groups. But we also need these mechanisms to not criminalize the very groups they’re watching over, nor should the tactics used cause humiliation to those groups.

New York’s “stop and frisk” program has perhaps captured many law-breakers, but how many people’s rights have been trampled by corrupt cops? How many countless people have been humiliated and meant to feel like criminals unnecessarily?

In a country where just about everything is against the law, even non-criminals can commit non-crimes and be charged, and possibly convicted; and bear in mind that being charged by itself is enough to mean years of jail, awaiting trial, if bail is set high enough such that freedom is unattainable. Police presence and actions that target certain groups makes those groups appear guilty, which reinforces stereotypes against those groups and impacts the behavior of members of those groups. This collateral societal damage has direct effects on people victimized by police bullying and negative externalities on the targeted groups themselves in the eyes of society at large.

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