Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Double Standard with Police Shootings

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Double Standard with Police Shootings

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

The protesters in Jacksonville and the nation were right to be outraged about the police killings of two unarmed black men - Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in New York City.

Given the fact that young black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by the police than their white counterparts - as shown by a ProPublica analysis of federal data - the protesters clearly understood what Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."

So they took to the streets.

"In the last 18 months, we've had a slew of unarmed black men getting killed both by the police and by vigilantes," University of North Florida criminologist Michael Hallett told me.

Unfortunately, the protesters' cause is being savaged by some who say black lives only matter to them if police are doing the killing.

That denigrates black lives.

African-Americans have every right to hold police, who collect a salary from their taxes, to a higher standard than the criminals, who do not.

First of all, Justice Department statistics show that 84 percent of whites who are murdered are killed by other whites and that the majority of murders occur among people of the same race or ethnicity.

Crime, in fact, is higher in lower-class white neighborhoods than in middle-class black neighborhoods, Hallett said.

Yet one would be hard-pressed to hear anyone argue that white people shouldn't be outraged about an unarmed relative being killed by the police unless they stop killing each other first.

Secondly, anyone who says that black lives don't matter to African-Americans unless that life is taken by the police hasn't been around much.

Groups such as Mad Dads and Families of Slain Children have been holding marches and rallies for years and have worked to bring the killers of black people, as well as those of whites, to justice. …

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