Monday, February 16, 2015

The Real Problem "Ghettoside"

We've all gotten used to the liberal "police brutality" meme, where police target minorities for abuse. That's when the police are not ignoring murders and concentrating on arresting minorities for minor infractions.

Now comes Jill Leovy with Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (H/T Steve Sailer) and she's getting a soft-focus interview on NPR's Fresh Air in "'Ghettoside' Explores Why Murders Are Invisible In Los Angeles:" as in
Our guest today, journalist Jill Leovy, argues that black communities suffer deeply from too little law enforcement, or at least law enforcement of a certain kind.  
You see, murders in the black ghetto get very little coverage in the media, and so Jill Leovy decided to sit down and document every murder in Los Angeles in a blog, The Homicide Report, and now she's written a book about it. Murder in the black ghetto may be routine, but it shatters the lives of families on the receiving end. And to compound the agony, very few murders of young black men are "solved."
Well, looking at numbers from LAPD from about '88 through the early 2000s, around 40 percent, if the victims are black men.
And injury shootings have an even lower "solved" rate, at 25 percent. What is going on here? Here is what is going on:
[Leovy:] I spoke to a mother, once, in South Bureau - black woman - her son had just been murdered. I think this was maybe a couple of days after the murder. I had gone to her door. And it was one of these cases where the police just had no witnesses. The case wasn't going anywhere. The mother told me that since the murder, the killers, who she knew, who were, I think, the gang members who lived on her street, had been knocking on her door and taunting her and laughing at her - her grief.  
Here's the black grievance: on the one hand, police are too heavy handed. On the other, they don't bother to solve the big stuff, the murders.
[Leovy:] [A] a standard black grievance against police that you hear in South LA, that has to do with the generally understood problem - too much consent searches, we say, in LA, too much stop-and-frisk, too heavy of law enforcement, too much presumption of guilt when you take stops.

What I hear, when I'm in these neighborhoods, is a combination. It's a two-pronged grievance. There's another half of that. And the other half is, I get stopped too much for nothing, and the police don't go after the real killers. They don't go after the really serious criminals in this neighborhood.
Then there's the intimidation:
[Interviewer:] You know, you write that most of these cases are made not by physical evidence, you know, fibers or that kind of thing, but by witnesses and a phrase that you hear a lot in some of these communities after a homicide is, everybody knows who did it. But it's the reluctance of witnesses to cooperate that is such a huge barrier. You want to just explore that for a moment and talk about what fears witnesses have and why?

LEOVY: Well, witnesses I think justly fear retaliation. There's a lot of kind you might call it soft retaliation - signals, hard stares. I had one witness on a case who a couple days after she - the perpetrators clearly saw her at the scene, woke up in the middle of the night, and they're banging hard on her windows, bunch of guys walking slowly around the house banging, banging on each window for a long time. And they didn't hurt her, but that's terrifying. And it's very clear what that's saying. What that's saying is, think about what we will do to you.
You can see why the police are running around harassing the homeboys. They can't get any witnesses for the murders, but knowing who the culprits are, they can at least get them for the small stuff.

End of facts, beginning of analysis.

Many years ago, I read a policeman that said that the dirty little secret of policing is informers. If you don't have informers you don't know what is going on and you can't prosecute urban crime. And that's what we just read about above. "Everybody knows" who did it, but nobody is willing to testify.

And, of course, these urban killings are, really, combat deaths in the contests for turf, the border wars, between rival urban gangs.

Now my theory of government is that every government is an armed minority occupying some territory and defending it from enemies, foreign and domestic. It supports itself by taxing the inhabitants of that territory. Period.

On this theory, urban criminal gangs are proto-governments that carve out territory within the territory of a larger national government. They defend that territory from other proto-governments and they tax the inhabitants for their "protection," And the larger national government tolerates it.

This has been going on in the United States for at least a century and a half, ever since the Irish came over in their "coffin ships." First it was the Irish gangs, then the Jewish gangs, then the Italian gangs. Now it's the black gangs and the Latino gangs.

But why? I think the main reason is that the immigrants on the lowest rung of the ladder don't have the connections and the credentials or the skills to enter the formal economy (which today taxes labor at up to 25 percent, including payroll taxes, unemployment, workers comp and mandatory benefits). So they have to operate outside the law. So they are vulnerable. They may work "off the books" or they may aim higher at the risky trade in illegal or highly taxed substances. But they have to work outside the law because they don't have the education, or skills, or experience, or connections, or whatever, to be competitive in the formal economy.

Remember the cruelties, Voltaire is supposed to have said. He was talking about the cruelties of the ancien régime. We too have our cruelties, and the poor have their grievances.

And so we can see a two-point program to solve this problem. Point One is to reconquer the urban ghettos and smash the gangs. Point Two is to abolish the cruel "helping" state interventions in the economy that make it impossible for unskilled people to work in the formal economy.

Otherwise, the problem of "Ghettoside" is insoluble. But maybe the ruling class likes it that way.

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