Disadvantaged communities are often the target of law enforcement abuses, not only featured in the news, but now understood through findings of a recent study. The fact of the matter is that these communities are often under represented on a political level, whether it be in their local/city government, the state/national congress members and senatorial representatives.
The findings in the study explicitly highlight how when these communities are able to mobilize into political movements and elect officials into positions of power, these law enforcement abuses are significantly reduced.
It’s an interesting fact to note, as we observe the current protest movements, and the success of those that have mobilized political, more specifically the Tea Party Movement and the power & influence they have of a national level, and the other social movements of our time including Occupy, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa, and whether these groups will realize that the success of the movement is based in electing officials into positions of power.
Here’s what you need to know about inequality in law enforcement practices:
The study also offers a potential solution: Elect more people of color to local government.
- If you want to stop police from disproportionately ticketing black communities, a recent study has one potential answer: Elect more black people to local government.
- Using data from more than 9,000 cities, the researchers first found that cities with larger black populations rely more on fines and court fees to raise revenue.
- The findings persisted even after controlling for other factors, such as differences in crime rates and the size of cities.
- Using a smaller sample of about 3,700 cities due to data limitations, they found that having at least one black person on the city council reduced the relationship between race and fines by about 50 percent.
- “What a lot of cities do is rely on a source of revenue that falls disproportionately on their black residents,” Sances told me
- “And when blacks gain representation on the city council, this relationship gets a lot better. The situation doesn’t become perfect, but it becomes alleviated to a great extent.”
- Time and time again, we’ve seen that when cash-strapped cities need revenue, they use their police departments to ticket vulnerable populations, particularly racial minorities.
- The study adds to the existing evidence by offering a potential solution: electing more black representation to local governments.
- black politicians are more receptive to black voters’ concerns, so they’ll often hear complaints about fines from their black constituents and tell the local police department to stop exploitative practices.
- The March 2015 report found that city officials worked together at every level of enforcement — from city management to the local prosecutor to the police department — to make as much money from fines and court fees as possible, ranging from schemes to raise total fines for municipal code violations to asking cops to write as many citations as possible.
- Law enforcement appeared to deliberately target black residents: Although black people made up about 67 percent of Ferguson’s population, about 85 percent of the people stopped and about 90 percent of the people who received a citation were black.
“When you put any type of numbers on a police officer to perform, we are going to go to the most vulnerable,” Adhyl Polanco, a New York City police officer, told WNBC last year.
- “We’re going to [the] LGBT community, we’re going to the black community, we’re going to go to those people that have no boat, that have no power.”
- By electing a black council member who’s more likely to listen to black voters’ concerns, black populations see their political clout — and ability to complain about potential police exploitation — grow.
- The idea, known as “legal cynicism,” is simple: The government is going to have a much harder time enforcing the law when large segments of the population don’t trust it or its laws.
- After centuries of neglect and abuse, black and brown Americans are simply much less likely to turn to police for help — and that may lead a small but significant segment of these communities to resort to its own means, including violence, to solve interpersonal conflicts.
- A 2016 study, from sociologists Matthew Desmond of Harvard, Andrew Papachristos of Yale, and David Kirk of Oxford, looked at 911 calls in Milwaukee after incidents of police brutality hit the news.
- They found that after the 2004 police beating of Frank Jude, 17 percent (22,200) fewer 911 calls were made in the following year compared with the number of calls that would have been made had the Jude beating never happened.
- More than half of the effect came from fewer calls in black neighborhoods.
- “An important implication of this finding is that publicized cases of police violence not only threaten the legitimacy and reputation of law enforcement,” the researchers write, but “they also — by driving down 911 calls — thwart the suppression of law breaking, obstruct the application of justice, and ultimately make cities as a whole, and the black community in particular, less safe.”
- here’s new evidence to support what many in the Black community have long suspected: that vulnerable populations are disproportionately targeted for citations.
- New study illuminates how cities target Black residents to increase revenue.
- a study found that cities with large Black populations are more likely to use fines to increase revenue.
- Political science researchers Michael Sances, of the University of Memphis, and Vanderbilt University’s Hye Young You based their findings on data from over 9,000 cities.
- “The average collection was about $8 per person for all cities that get at least some revenue from fines and fees, but that rose to as much as $20 per person in the cities with the highest Black populations,”
- Sances told the outlet that many cities “rely on a source of revenue that falls disproportionately on their Black residents.”
- In 2015, the Justice Department found that the police department of Ferguson, Missouri (infamous for being the site where a White cop killed Michael Brown) had a pattern of racial bias – including disproportionately stopping and using force against Black residents.
- The study also concluded that one potential solution is electing more Black people to local government.
- The two researchers found that the relationship between race and fines declined by about half when at least one Black person was on a city council.
The finding suggests that Black politicians are likely to be more responsive to the concerns of Black citizens.