The Aurora Tragedy, Race and Gun Control
10 months ago
Could the Batman Massacre end “Stop and Frisk?”
A report from the New York Civil Liberties Union confirmed what many New Yorkers of color already knew, namely that the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” program has overwhelmingly targeted racial minorities. 87% of those stopped in 2011 were black or Latino, however "a weapon was found in only 1.8 percent of blacks and Latinos frisked, as compared to a weapon being found in 3.8 percent of whites frisked.” Despite these findings, and others like them, Mayor Bloomberg has passionately defended the policy, angrily denouncing the NYCLU as no better than the NRA.
Yet it appears not to have dawned on the Mayor that while he has criticized gun control policy elsewhere in the wake of the Aurora tragedy, the execution of his own city’s current policy virtually ensures that the Aurora gunman would have slipped through the cracks. The reason? As a white male he is unlikely to have drawn the attention of police. Next to the NRA, racial politics have long been among gun control’s most frustrating foes. Though gun homicide has been the leading cause of death for black teens for years, the issue of gun control tends to find itself catapulted to the front pages and the top of political priority lists only when a high profile tragedy takes place, and the majority of its victims are not black or brown. The Million Mom March held in the wake of the Columbine High School shooting first exposed racial rifts within the gun control movement. Black mothers who had lost children to gun deaths lamented that the media labeled their kids victims of “gang violence,” even when they weren’t in gangs, but simply from a poor neighborhood, while victims from Columbine and other predominantly white communities were labeled victims of “gun violence.”
At the time activists within the movement made a concerted effort to acknowledge the lack of pre-Columbine activism, and the lack of sensitivity that showed to mothers of color who had been battling the issue of gun violence for years. More than a decade later it doesn’t appear that all that much has changed. Many of the elected officials who have emerged in the wake of the Aurora tragedy to decry our nation’s backslide on the issue of gun control were largely silent when it was revealed that Chicago was on track to have one of its bloodiest summers ever due to gun violence. But perhaps they simply dismissed that as “gang violence” not “gun violence.”
So I want to at least give credit where credit is due. Mayor Bloomberg should be applauded for not ignoring gun violence affecting minorities, but he should not be applauded for condoning racial profiling as an anti-violence measure. Because by his logic, that would mean that from here on, every white male should be stopped and frisked before entering a movie theatre.
Yes that sounds ridiculous. Please tell that to the Mayor.
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