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Sunday, December 7, 2014

About Ferguson

When the crap hit the fan in Ferguson, Mo., I was overseas. Even with the Internet it's not always easy to follow breaking events from afar, and I stay very busy when I'm on the road. In subsequent weeks I have not had — or I have not taken the time — to get acquainted with all the facts.

Sometimes less is more, and my thoughts are summarized by this photo:

But I do want to respond to one item. After Ferguson erupted, a black police officer in Salt Lake City shot and killed an unarmed white perpetrator in an unrelated incident. What to make of this?
  1. Police officers in the U.S. kill about 400 citizens each year, nearly all with gunfire.
  2. Police officers in the U.S. kill ten times more citizens each year than their counterparts in Great Britain, Germany, Japan, and Canada combined (roughly equal populations).
  3. Black citizens are more likely than white citizens to be targeted by police violence. Anyone who disagrees should have a brain MRI.
  4. Statistics do indicate that black males, in particular, are more likely than white males to commit crimes.
  5. Why is that? To a large degree, the direct cause is our enslavement of their forefathers and our inability or unwillingness to reverse the legacy of slavery.
  6. Are police brutality and police racism problems in the U.S.? Yes, and it's been that way for a very long time.
  7. About 150 police officers in the U.S. are killed in the line of duty each year, many from hostile gunfire.
  8. Do police in the U.S. make mistakes? Yes. They are human, and our society puts them in nearly impossible positions.
  9. Do I believe I could personally do a better job, if I were a police officer? No.
  10. Did I ever once consider joining the police as a career? No.
Following up on #2, what makes the U.S. so different? There are many reasons, among which is the availability of handguns. What will change #1 and #7? I wish I knew.