Earlier this year, the Justice Department of the Obama administration announced its objective to aggressively monitor the police departments of major urban cities. The purpose of this effort is to determine whether such departments are involved in racial profiling of blacks and Latinos and whether they are engaged in police brutality. Since that announcement, events have unfolded in some of those cities that reveal how misplaced that policy initiative actually is.
In Chicago, the District of Columbia, Milwaukee and Philadelphia, a group of “flash mobs” have unmercifully terrorized residents of those communities – attacking citizens, breaking windows of business establishments and stealing merchandise, and committing other random acts of violence. In each instance, the mobs have been overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, black youth. This fact has accounted for the failure of most of the news media to report either the events themselves or the racial background of the perpetrators. Several news sources have readily admitted that it is their practice not to mention the racial identity of those involved in criminal activity. Jim Stingl, a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, recently wrote, “This newspaper normally avoids mentioning the race of people involved in crimes, unless it’s part of a description to help apprehend someone at large.”
Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter is not afflicted with the same disease of political correctness as many in the media. In a recent 30-minute sermon delivered from the pulpit of his Baptist church, Nutter confronted the culture that many of us believe drives the behavior of these individuals when he said, “You have damaged your own race…Take those God-darn hoodies down, especially in the summer. Pull your pants up and buy a belt ‘cause no one wants to see your underwear or the crack of your butt.’’
“If you walk into somebody’s office with your hair uncombed and a pick in the back, and your shoes untied, and your pants half down, tattoos up and down your arms and on your neck, and you wonder why somebody won’t hire you? They don’t hire you ‘cause you look like you’re crazy,” the mayor said.
Mayor Nutter is correct. When we have young people burglarizing stores and neighborhoods and beating up bystanders without provocation, there is obviously a widespread cultural problem in the group committing these acts. That reality must be faced and the thugs responsible for these acts should not be ignored or coddled. They and their parents, if there are parents in the households, should be held accountable for their behavior.
The fact that these urban flash mobs are black youth is significant. These thugs have been singling out and attacking, with very few exceptions, only whites. Having gangs of black kids wandering the streets singling out whites is a fact about which the residents of urban cities should be aware so that they can be adequately forewarned. This is why the failure of the mass media, acting out of motives of political correctness, to report the racial dimension of these disturbances is so disturbing.
Mayor Nutter properly addresses the culture that many urban black youth embrace, but no one can fully explain why these individuals are engaging in racist criminal activity against whites. Some sociologists and pundits are advancing the theory that these thugs are being driven by other factors such as frustration about the economic conditions in the nation, particularly as those conditions affect their personal lives.
According to some reports, some of these kids are as young as eleven years old. It is hardly reasonable to believe that individuals of such a tender age would even be sufficiently aware of government activities for this to be a motive.
It is equally as difficult to believe that these individuals would single out whites merely because they (the perpetrators) are unemployed, although such a rationale is being used by many commentators here, perhaps emulating those in England trying to explain their even greater problem with even more violent flash mobs.
Although the pervasive unemployment of young people in America is a cause of considerable concern, I believe Mayor Nutter has hit the bulls-eye when he sees this racist violence as a cultural problem of profound consequences. If left unattended, this problem can result in circumstances similar to the riots that our nation confronted in the 1960s.
Instead of harassing urban police departments about “racial profiling” or police brutality, the Federal Justice Department should be seeking to help those departments in more effective policing techniques. And, President Obama should focus attention of the nation on what can be done to alter this culture of anti-social behavior.
For starters, we need to acknowledge the problem of criminal activity among some urban black youth. For too long our nation has either looked the other way when we see this problem, because of political correctness, or we have made excuses about it, or we have tried to throw money at it, as is now being done by Mayor Bloomberg in New York City.
In addition to using his bully pulpit, Mayor Nutter has imposed a 9:00 curfew for everyone under 18. He is focusing on the behavior of the offenders rather than making excuses for them. This is exactly right. And this is the message that should be repeated at a national level by President Obama, who is politically close to Nutter. The president should acknowledge the existence of the problem and crack down on it before it becomes uncontrollable. Instead of worrying about “profiling,” our nation needs to accept the reality that criminal activity is disproportionately found in certain neighborhoods and among certain demographic groups. Then, we need to crack down on the offenders. To do otherwise is to simply consign the problem to another time and another place.
Ward Connerly is a former chairman of the University of California Board of Regents.