April 2, 2007

OKAY, SO IT COULDN'T QUITE HAPPEN TO ANYONE:

Time for the Truth About Black Crime Rates: The lessons of the Sean Bell case (Heather Mac Donald, 2 April 2007, City Journal)

Carefully omitted from the swirl of media coverage and the denunciations of the NYPD was any discussion of black crime rates. The New York Times did its usual best to shroud the issue. A March article, for instance, devoted itself to charges that the police were preying on the black community. After noting that more than half the people whom cops stop and frisk are black, Times reporter Diane Cardwell added: "City officials maintained that those stopped and searched roughly parallel the race of people mentioned in reports from crime victims." No, actually, there is no "rough parallel" between the proportion of stops and the proportion of alleged assailants: blacks aren't stopped enough, considering the rate at which they commit crimes. Though blacks, 24 percent of New York City's population, committed 68.5 percent of all murders, rapes, robberies, and assaults in the city last year, according to victims and witnesses, they were only 55 percent of all stop-and-frisks. Of course, the Times didn't give the actual crime figures. Even a spate of vicious assaults on police officers in the week before the indictments didn't change the predominant story line that officers were trigger-happy racists.

But the context of the Bell shooting suggests a different picture. The undercover officers and detectives involved had been deployed to Club Kahlua in Jamaica, Queens, because of the club's history of lawlessness. Club patrons and neighbors had made dozens of calls to the NYPD, reporting guns, drug sales, and prostitution, and the police had recently made eight arrests there.

The night of November 24, undercover officer Gescard Isnora, who fired the first shots at Bell, had observed a man put a stripper's hand on his belt to reassure her that he had a gun and would protect her from an aggressive customer. Outside the club, Isnora (who is African-American) and his colleagues witnessed a heated exchange between Bell's entourage and an apparent pimp over the services of a prostitute, during which the pimp kept his hand inside his jacket, as if holding a gun. After the hooker refused to have sex with more than two of the group's eight members, Bell--presumably referring to the pimp--said, "Let's f[***] him up," and Bell's companion, Joseph Guzman, said, "Yo, get my gun, get my gun." Isnora reported these exchanges over his cell phone to his colleagues in the area.

Feeling the danger level mounting, Isnora retrieved his gun from his unmarked car. When he returned to the scene, Bell and his two companions had gotten into their car, ready to drive away. Isnora thought that a drive-by shooting of the pimp could be imminent, and so moved to question the car's occupants. He held out his badge (by his account), identified himself as a police officer, and told the car to stop. Instead, Bell drove forward and hit Isnora and a police minivan, backed up, and then slammed into the minivan again, nearly hitting Isnora a second time.

Isnora, who was standing on the passenger side of Bell's car, claims that he saw Guzman reach for his waistband. Believing that he faced a deadly threat, Isnora opened fire.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 2, 2007 7:04 AM
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