Letters to a Young Protestor, 8: Black Crime


Dear Niecie,

What’s good? It’s been a while since I’ve written. I’m sorry about that. I trust school and life are good on your end?

I came across video footage of another young man gunned down by officers on February 11th. He apparently threw a stone at an officer, for which he should have been subdued and arrested. But instead, the officers fired at him in a busy intersection, pursued him, and when he turned to surrender gunned him down. We learned from the Mike Brown incident that police are only justified in pursuing and using lethal force when their lives are in danger or the fleeing suspect is thought to pose significant harm to the public. Neither appears to be the case here. It’s an emotional scene.

Keep in mind this is not a dramatization; it’s real life. We live in an indescribable age–one where some officers of the law are caught on cell phone cameras slaying citizens they’re sworn to protect. Even citizens with disabilities who make no aggressive motion–as in this incident from a couple years back. Eight officers with a police dog fire 41 times at this young man, hitting him 14 times and killing him. Is there no officer among us wise enough to talk down a man like this or find a way to subdue him? It’s insane!

But whenever you raise the issue of ending police brutality or ending the mass incarceration of African Americans, you’re bound to run into a lot of people who quickly stress “black crime” as the main problem. They come armed with 2-3 statistics that they think buttress the legitimacy and efficacy of the criminal justice system.

Don’t be exhausted by these folks. Most are well meaning and they at least intend to base their position on some evidence. If they’re honest, they’re the folks you can have a good conversation with and the evidence gives you a good starting place free from a lot of the “noise” that comes with these discussions. Have those conversations as winsomely as you can and add some research that helps color in the picture with more details.

On that note, I came across something I thought you’d find helpful the inclosed pages from Michelle Alexander’s wonderful book, The New Jim Crow, might be helpful. Excuse all my highlights! I’m devouring this book. It’s so smoothly written and filled with a blend of true incidents, research and legal  perspectives that I find it difficult to put down! Read it if you haven’t. Give it to those who seem willing to consider another point of view. They will in turns be appalled at what’s going on in the name of “justice” and ashamed (as I have been) that their positions could have been so ill-informed.

I’m also including a little spending money. You shouldn’t be poor just because you’re a student! I know you agree 🙂

Much love,

Your uncle






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