Last night New York Times columnist Charles Blow appeared on Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN to explain his pique over the detention of his son, a third-year chemistry student at Yale University, by campus police. In his column on the incident, Blow offers his son’s firsthand account of what transpired after he first noticed an officer “jogging” toward him as he exited the library:
I did not pay him any mind, and continued to walk back towards my room. I looked behind me, and noticed that the police officer was following me. He spoke into his shoulder-mounted radio and said, ‘I got him.’
I faced forward again, presuming that the officer was not talking to me. I then heard him say, ‘Hey, turn around!’ — which I did.
The officer raised his gun at me, and told me to get on the ground.
At this point, I stopped looking directly at the officer, and looked down towards the pavement. I dropped to my knees first, with my hands raised, then laid down on my stomach.
The officer asked me what my name was. I gave him my name.
The officer asked me what school I went to. I told him Yale University.
this point, the officer told me to get up.
I got up slowly, and continued to walk back to my room. I was scared. My legs were shaking slightly. After a few more paces, the officer said, ‘Hey, my man. Can you step off to the side?’ I did.
It sounds like an awful ordeal, and one can certainly sympathize with the young man, who, according to the Yale campus police, matched the physical description of a burglary suspect. But was the stop motivated by racism? Blow seems to think so — and so for that matter does Yale. The column ends with the advice that “the dean of Yale College and the campus police chief have apologized and promised an internal investigation.” But one might ask why? The officer was doing his job. Would the university have been as apologetic had the police stopped a white student?
But let’s take it a step further and suppose the officer had also been black. Actually, there is no need to suppose: the officer was black — a detail the Blow for some reason omitted from his column. He was asked about that by Cooper:
COOPER: Does the fact that the police officer involved was African-American change the equation in any way?
BLOW: It doesn’t for me, because when we have the conversations with our kids, we don’t say, ‘Well, if you run into a white police officer, behave like this and this and this, and if you run into a black police officer, you don’t have to worry about that; do whatever you want to do, jam your hands into your pockets, jump around and talk back.’
Blow seems to buying into the popular liberal argument that all police, regardless of race, have itchy trigger fingers when confronting black suspects. The simple fact remains that blacks are far more likely to be gunned down by other black civilians than by police. Perhaps Blow needs to have another conversation with his son.
But more importantly, if black police are equally likely as white ones to gun down black men, then why did Blow fail to note the color of the cop’s skin in his column?
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