Race, Crime and Conspiracies

By Barras, Jonetta Rose | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 11, 1996 | Go to article overview

Race, Crime and Conspiracies


Barras, Jonetta Rose, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


The appearance of two articles about black elected officials and crime, the release of a myth-busting report on black versus white jury acquittals, hints of CIA involvement in the Crack epidemic, and the return of O.J. Simpson offer evidence of a mysteriously reached national consensus - some might say conspiracy.

The last time the country's collective psyche focused on race and crime was after Mr. Simpson's murder trial; his acquittal confounded many. Calls came for radical changes in the criminal justice system. Jury nullification became a household word. Pleas to improve race relations became America's mantra. The National Conference must have thought it had died and gone to heaven. But things quickly returned to normal.

Now, it's race and crime redux: The frayed Hertz Man is on trial. Former Los Angeles police detective Mark Furhman pleaded no contest, in effect admitting he lied when he said in the earlier trial he'd never called a black person "nigger." That, too, sharpens the racial edge. Legal experts say Mr. Furhman's plea positions the Simpson civil defense team well. Too bad.

Some blacks want me to cut Mr. Simpson some slack; they cite 1992 Census statistics to the effect that nearly 50 percent of the 1 million Americans in state and federal prisons are African-American males. But Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity has her own data arsenal. A center-commissioned study found that blacks are less likely to be convicted in jury trials than whites. The study, conducted by Robert Lerner, was based on an analysis of 55,512 felony cases filed in state courts for the 75 largest counties in the nation during May 1992; the initial data collection was conducted by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nearly 39 percent of the cases involved blacks while nearly 60 percent were whites.

"For murder, rape, burglary, felony theft, drug trafficking, and other crimes against persons, blacks were more likely to be acquitted than whites. For robbery assault, other property offenses, felony traffic offenses, and weapons charges, whites were more likely to be acquitted than blacks," Mr. Lerner says.

For example: 83 percent of blacks charged with rape were acquitted, while only 24 percent of whites were. And 22 percent of blacks charged with murder were acquitted; none of the whites got off. The study, in tandem with other national reports that found African Americans are more likely to be victims of crimes, leads to the alarming conclusion that black-on-black crime is perfectly acceptable.

Reports appearing in this month's issues of George and Emerge magazines offer similar assessments. Both articles contend blacks are unduly harassed and targeted for prosecution of crimes, even as similar offenses by whites are ignored. In Emerge, Joe Davidson takes recently convicted felon Mel Reynolds as exemplary. Reynolds was found guilty of seducing a 16 year-old girl who worked in his campaign. …

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