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Thursday, November 19, 2009

The perp walk

One of the time-honored traditions of law enforcement is the perp walk, where the authorities parade the guilty party in front of the cameras to show the public that they are doing their job. This is done by both the FBI and the local police.

Above left is a picture of this morning's featured perp, the "baby-faced" (according to all the newspapers) Carvett Gentles, whose stray bullet managed to find its way into the skull of innocent 17-year-old bystander Vada Vasquez.

The picture brought to mind a pattern I've observed over the past few years, whereby the law enforcement authorities seem to try to match their perps with an officer of the same race, at least while the cameras are rolling. The image of an innocent-looking young black boy, no matter how heinous his crime, being manhandled by two Dick Butkus-lookalikes is not the one that the NYPD wants to project in this racially hypersensitive age. So they carefully matched young Carvett with an older "brother" to hold his left arm.

The thinking seems to be, well, we all know that law enforcement is dominated by whites, and we all know that crime, especially violent crime, is committed disproportionately by nonwhites. But be that as it may, we have to work against the perception fostered by the media that we're just a bunch of cowboys going around looking for minorities to roust. So every time we stage a perp walk, let's make sure that we have an officer on hand who looks like the perp.

The same thinking was at work with the arrest a month ago of hedge fund billionaire Raj Rajaratnam. Evidently the FBI didn't have an ethnic Indian available, so they made do with the closest thing, an East Asian, to hold his arm for the cameras (see picture above right). The feds were able to hit the mark exactly, however, when announcing their indictment of Rajaratnam: they had U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara handle the news conference.

You know, just so no one would think they were "racist."

It's a wonderful new world we live in: if you commit a crime, you get to be arrested by your own, at least when the cameras are rolling. (No such guarantees when it comes to the unfilmed jail guards, however.) It's unclear exactly what the point of all this is, other than proving that the law enforcement authorities are exquisitely sensitive to ethnic sensibilities these days.

If you're aware of this pattern, you'll notice a lot of it. This transparent image-burnishing would actually be sort of funny if it did not reflect a deeper rot.


Anonymous said...

I'm thinking this racial sensitivity might be a good thing, i.e. when I get put away for my crimes I'm hoping it will be Club Fed, alongside other polite, well-mannered white folk.


John Craig said...

Ah yes, you've just described the Aryan Brotherhood, I believe.

I've never figured out exactly where I'd look for protection. As far as I know there are no major half-Japanese half-Anglo gangs operating on the inside.

Anonymous said...

Good post...
I never noticed the similarities between the the perps and the police. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Thank you Tom.

Paul said...

If you're the John Craig I'm thinking of, you should be fine joining the Mexican Mafia prison gang.

John Craig said...

If you're the "Paul" I'm thinking of, you'll have no problem finding a big hairy "master" to protect you.

Neill Brengettsey said...

Since this an old post -- thought I'd post old statistics -- 2011, but crime remains fairly constant -- Violent crimes committed by race White 243928, Black 157384. Opinions are nice -- informed opinions are better. Further, they don't perp walk white people as often-- almost two to one, though obviously they commit more crime at all levels.

John Craig said...

Neill Brengettsey --
Take another look at what I said above -- that violent crime is committed "disproportionately" by blacks. The number you cite indicates that whites commit roughly 55% more violent crime than blacks do. Yet "whites," as defined in the study you link, are roughly 78% of the population (since in those earlier statistic "whites" included Hispanics, Middle Easterners, and everybody who wasn't black or Asian/Pacific Islander or Native American), whereas blacks were roughly 13% of the population. So while whites committed 55% more violent crime, their population was roughly 600% of the black population.

Please, read more carefully and learn what "disproportionately" means.