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Blue Lines, Shaded in Black and Brown: The Diallo Shooting, Race and Politics
Unformatted Document Text:  8 drabness of the frame around that picture that it is hard to move from one to the other. I start the transition with a simple question: why were those four particular young officers where they were when the act of force took place? In the course of my research, everyone I spoke with about racial profiling talked about it in terms of the individual cop’s perceptions and decisions. But the officers seeing people that way, making those split second decisions, tend to be white and to be patrolling neighborhoods that are predominantly “of color”. About half the victims of police shootings are black, a sizeable overrepresentation in relationship to population. 4 That fact is based in policy, which in turn relates to political positioning, which in turn plays on popular fears of crime, which in turn are, at the very least, fanned, at the worst created by public commentary from politicians, as well as by other cultural expressions. Crime is today, and has been often throughout the history of the U.S., a politically advantageous string to pluck. The electoral success of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani rested on his determination to control crime in his dominion. Said Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco defense attorney who has defended many a noted progressive prisoner: New York is a classic example. Giuliani got elected on the basis of the liberal vote, friends of mine, friends of yours, people who normally don’t vote that way, who figured that…a police society is better than what we had before, because it’s safer. I’ve been appalled by friends of mine in New York who basically supported Giuliani. They’ll say, “We don’t really like him, but….” And what they’re really saying is, “We’re tired of all these black and Hispanic criminals, and we’ve got to stop them, to make this a safe place to walk and raise our kids.” And I say to them, “Well, Singapore’s safe; would you want to go and live there?” And they look at me like I’m

Authors: Roy, Beth.
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drabness of the frame around that picture that it is hard to move from one to 
the other. I start the transition with a simple question: why were those four 
particular young officers where they were when the act of force took place? 
In the course of my research, everyone I spoke with about racial 
profiling talked about it in terms of the individual cop’s perceptions and 
decisions. But the officers seeing people that way, making those split second 
decisions, tend to be white and to be patrolling neighborhoods that are 
predominantly “of color”.  About half the victims of police shootings are 
black, a sizeable overrepresentation in relationship to population.
 That fact 
is based in policy, which in turn relates to political positioning, which in turn 
plays on popular fears of crime, which in turn are, at the very least, fanned, 
at the worst created by public commentary from politicians, as well as by 
other cultural expressions.
Crime is today, and has been often throughout the history of the U.S., 
a politically advantageous string to pluck. The electoral success of New York 
Mayor Rudy Giuliani rested on his determination to control crime in his 
dominion. Said Stuart Hanlon, a San Francisco defense attorney who has 
defended many a noted progressive prisoner:
New York is a classic example. Giuliani got elected on the basis of 
the liberal vote, friends of mine, friends of yours, people who 
normally don’t vote that way, who figured that…a police society is 
better than what we had before, because it’s safer. I’ve been 
appalled by friends of mine in New York who basically supported 
Giuliani. They’ll say, “We don’t really like him, but….” And what 
they’re really saying is, “We’re tired of all these black and Hispanic 
criminals, and we’ve got to stop them, to make this a safe place to 
walk and raise our kids.” And I say to them, “Well, Singapore’s safe; 
would you want to go and live there?” And they look at me like I’m 


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