Thursday, May 07, 2015

Guest Post by Ernest Evans

       A few weeks ago I published an op-ed in which I noted how the city of Saint Louis has had a major crime surge in its black neighborhoods since the August 9, 2014 death of Michael Brown in Ferguson.  This crime surge is continuing:  In the nine months since Brown's death there have been 145 homicides in Saint Louis; for the nine months before his death there had been 80 homicides.  And, of the 51 homicides in STL so far in 2015, 43 have been black people.

      I sought to explain the crime disaster in the black neighborhoods of Saint Louis by looking at an earlier instance of a major crime surge in a US city; namely, the massive surge in violence in the black neighborhoods of Cincinnati after race riots in that city in May 2001. Those riots, which lasted for several days, were sparked by the killing of a black teenager by a white cop.  In the aftermath of the riots there were community meetings where politicians and activists demanded "swift justice" with "no legal obstructionism"; the local press corps was so terrified of being accused of racism that they did not cover the story with even a pretense of fairness.

    Police officers are required to do, and do on a daily basis, a most politically incorrect thing:  Use force against racial minorities.  And, as any veteran cop can tell you, there is no such thing as a "nice takedown"--they all look terrible on camera.  Given this un-PC but all-too-true reality, if police officers are going to have the morale and motivation to fight crime in black neighborhoods they have to be assured that if accused of racism they will get due process and a minimum degree of fair media coverage.  When this is not the case, out of sheer self-survival, a process called "de-policing" occurs: The cops abandon doing their jobs in black neighborhoods. Nature abhors a vacuum--so the gangs and the criminal elements take over the streets and violence explodes.  This is what happen in Cincinnati after the May 2001 riots, as the follows statistics on homicides in that city show:

      Homicide Totals in Cincinnati, by Year:

      2000:  15

      2001:   55

      2002:    64

      2003:    71

      2004:     64

      2005:     79

      The entirety of this homicide surge was due to black victims--homicides of other races did not increase significantly.

      Baltimore is currently one of the most violent cities not only in America but world-wide.  A Mexican research center called the Citizen's Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice put out a list earlier this year of the world's fifty most violent cities--Baltimore was listed as No. 40.  (The other US cities on the list were New Orleans (28), Detroit (22) and Saint Louis (19) ).  The death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015 resulted in such serious civil disorder that the state's National Guard had to be called in and police departments from the region had to send in officers.  There is a very real danger that these riots could have the same terrible impact in the black neighborhoods of Baltimore that the May 2001 riots had in the black neighborhoods of Cincinnati.

     So, Baltimore is facing a crisis that if not properly handled could destroy the city as we know it--just the way that there is a very good chance that the Ferguson crisis will end up destroying Saint Louis as we know it.  If Baltimore is going to survive it is going to have to do exactly what Saint Louis is going to have to do:  Defy the local and national versions of the Politically Correct Thought Police and insist on due process for any police officer accused of racist misconduct and simultaneously have the local media cover such cases with a minimum degree of fairness and objectivity.