Thursday, December 4, 2014

Not So Good: Thoughts on Resisting Arrest

I have been pondering how our society is supposed to be able to function in an environment where we teach young black boys and girls that it is okay to resist arrest. This seems like a crucial issue right now given the rioting and protests associated with two black fellows, Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both of whom resisted lawful arrest.

It turns out that there is some constitutional law out there which defends our right to resist "unlawful" arrest. It is worth reading here.

Apparently, this is a real issue and a ton of African-Americans seem to think it is okay to resist arrest. For example, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer did a study in 2008 and asserted that within the city of Seattle, "African-Americans were arrested for the sole crime of obstructing eight times as often as whites when population is taken into account." See, Nalder, Eric; Kamb, Lewis; Lathrop, Daniel (2008-02-28). "Blacks are arrested on 'contempt of cop' charge at higher rate". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. 

According to the paper, they treated an obstructing arrest as "stand-alone" if that was the only charge or if all other charges were for closely related offenses, such as resisting arrest. By this standard, the number of black men who faced stand-alone obstructing charges during the six-year period reviewed was equal to nearly 2 percent of Seattle's black male population.

I think this pattern is the result of a dysfunctional culture in the African-American community that teaches it is okay, even right, to resist arrest. I'm afraid we are going to see a lot more stories along the lines of Michael Brown and Eric Garner unless we make significant efforts to change this culture so that it respects the authority of police officers.One place to start might be to change the way police officers are portrayed in rap or hip hop music.

Here's an incredible video of a black police officer who has apparently gotten caught up in gangsta culture. It is a striking indication of how deep this sickness in black culture goes.

If we are going to have an intelligent conversation about race in this country, then one of the top topics need to be how do we go about stopping cultural trends which make it acceptable to resist arrest.

John C. Drew, Ph.D. is an award-winning political scientist.

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