Excessive policing is just as bad as lax policing

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Arlene Jones

What do you say to someone who publicly calls for everyone in Austin to be under siege? What do you say to someone who wants Austin residents to be searched, ticketed and arrested for the crime of "driving while black?" What do you say to someone who calls on the police to practice racial profiling for every person in Austin? What do you say to someone who generalizes about real issues, problems and concerns? What do you say to someone who assumes that if you drive an expensive car, you're probably a drug dealer?

After reading James Hammonds' column in the March 17 Austin Weekly News, all I can say is, What were you thinking?

What were you thinking, asking the police to make phony police stops? Yes, the police stops hundreds of cars every day. But only in the black community do our police stops turn into situations where a cell phone appears to be a gun (LaTanya Haggerty) or the rear window is broken out and you're shot dead with your hands in a defensive position (Robert Russ) or you can be a retired Chicago police officer now working as a railroad police officer and end up with 25 gunshots in your body (Howard Morgan). Mr. Morgan, who is still alive, is being charged with "attempted murder" against the officers who shot him.

What were you thinking, asking the police to racial-profile? I have lived on my block for 15 years, and I still have white and Hispanic neighbors. Those same neighbors who lived in this community before you and me are now being made into the drug purchasers. Yet when Austin began to change from predominantly white to black, had those same whites profiled you, well I can imagine what they would have said.

What were you thinking, asking the police to make the assumption that all black young people who wear the very fashionable "hoodies" are looking to burglarize a home? I would hate to have one single case of a young person wearing a hoodie being shot dead on their own front porch as they used their key to enter their own home because the police thought that person was in the process of burglarizing the house.

What were you thinking, asking the police to make the assumption that a single male standing near an alley or abandoned building is a potential rapist? How quickly we forget the case of Ryan Harris, where a 7-year-old and 8-year-old (males) were accused of her rape and murder.

What were you thinking, asking the police to make the huge leap between a Cadillac Escalade or other luxury automobiles and the driver being a drug dealer? In the same column you bluster that our young people should work hard, but if that hard work allows them to buy an Escalade or Lexus, why, according to you, could it only have been done if they were "drug dealers?" What if they go to pharmacy school and become pharmacists? Will you still chastise them for being "drug dealers?"

What were you thinking, admonishing the churches, parents and politicians for what they aren't doing? If the church van is driving down the street, you've already told the police to pull it over for a fictitious traffic violation. If the father is looking for his child and has on a hood, then it's obvious he's a burglar. If Don Harmon, our white state senator, is walking down North Avenue, he's obviously looking to buy drugs?

What were you thinking, demanding that our young people try to get summer jobs while at the same time you advocated for them to get police records which would prevent them from getting/keeping a job?

I could continue on, but will end with this African Proverb:

"One falsehood spoils a thousand truths."

? E-mail me: westside2day@yahoo.com

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