Paul R. Lehman, The killing of George Floyd underscores the bigotry in America and its law enforcement

May 28, 2020 at 7:17 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, identity, jail & prison overcrowding, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Minnesota, Police, Prejudice, race, Race in America, racism, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, tribalism, whites | 6 Comments
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The killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police should leave no doubt in our minds of fact that ethnic bigotry is a fabric of the European American psyche regardless of the geographical location. The bias they have been conditioned to accept as normal prevents them from seeing people of color as human beings; they, the European Americans, are to themselves, the only real human beings. In addition to seeing people of color as less than human beings, they also are conditioned to see them as a constant threat to their safety, comfort, and privileges. These people of color must be controlled under all circumstances if the well-being of European Americans is to be maintained. While the European American psyche readily embraces this bigotry, the problems of fear and hate of people of color and especially of African American men become inflated in law enforcers.
As a matter of fact, contrary to law enforcer’s accounts, African Americans are not usually the initiators of physical force against officers. Rather than treat them as citizens deserving respect and courtesy, African Americans are viewed as criminals first, last, and always by law enforcers. The concept of innocent until proven guilty does not apply to people of color. More often than not, when we see a video of an officer interacting with an African American the officer never listens to what the African American says even if it’s a plea for help. The videos from Eric Gardner to George Floyd show the callousness of the officers to the cries and pleas of the victims. Studies have shown that European American law enforcers seemingly lose touch with reality when they confront a person of color.
When European immigrants came to America they came using their national and cultural identities like German, French, and Italian etc….But once they arrived, they learned that abandoning those identities that at time also brought discrimination and social rejection, offered them so much more. In particular the identities of Irish, Italian, and Jews, not to mention the Polish and Slavic, rushed in claiming whiteness.The pseudo science of race was firmly in place in the late 1800s and the immigrants worked hard to claim that whiteness because if they were seen as white, their former identity would be of little concern. In essence, the European immigrants submerged themselves in whiteness because of the power and privilege it offered. But by abandoning their former identity, they lost the value and self worth that came with it and embraced a color that offered nothing of personal value but membership in the white tribe.
Time is the only thing that is consistently changing and so over time many European Americans not only forgot who they were but also had nothing of personal cultural value to pass on to their children except to tell them that they were white. Of course, whiteness has never been defined, only described. The fear that many European Americans have and causes then to react violently and aggressively towards people of color is the loss of their white identity. For European Americans to lose their white identity would render them, in their eyes, valueless because they abandoned their ethnic identities to become white and now would have nothing of themselves to value. Evidently, being an American is not enough if the white is omitted.
Today, more and more European Americans are experimenting with their feelings of privilege and power as in the example of a European American woman who threatened an African American male who was bird-watching in a park and mentioned to the female who had a dog with her that the park had a leash law. She became upset with him after an exchange between them and called 911 saying that she thought an African American man was about to attack her. Fortunately, the incident was resolved without anyone being harmed. However, the woman displayed the power of her whiteness by calling the police and saying that she was being assaulted by an African American man. Had the woman used the word black instead of African American man, the impact would have probably been more alarming to the police, because the word black would bring help running. Studies have shown the psychical and emotional reactions experienced by European Americans and especially law enforcers to the seeing or hearing the word black. To be sure, the word black ignites an alarm in their psyche similar to that of the word fire. Both words trigger a similar reaction—contain, control, and kill.
The increase in displays of bigotry by European Americans come from their fear of loosing the one thing of value they have—their whiteness. They have a reason to be frightened because the rapidly changing cultural demographics spell an end to the concept of a white and black race. The power of whiteness today comes from the use of the reference to black. Bigots might appear to dislike the word black being used in various civil and civic organizations like Black Lives Matter, but the opposite is true; they love and encourage the usage of black because it is the fuel that keeps their whiteness in power. Most people are not mindful of the practice in the media that has existed for too long—when an item of interest is broadcast involving people, the only ones described by skin complexion are people of color. If no person of color is involved, no description is given. The reason for this is the concept of European Americans being the only normal people on the planet; all others are abnormal and need to be described.
European Americans and especially those in the criminal justice need to know that changes are coming relative to race and color and the way people are perceived and treated. When we realize that eighty percent of the world’s population is people of color and the population of America will have a majority of brown people by 2045, they are and will continue to lose the numbers game. Looking at the videos of George Floyd and other victims of bigotry makes us mindful of the saying—what’s done in the dark will come to the light. As the darkness comes to light it brings with it the need for reckoning.

Paul R. Lehman, The safety and well-being of African American males and all people of color are a constant concern

April 17, 2020 at 4:18 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, amygdala, anglo saxons, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Civil Right's Act 1964, Civil Rights Ats, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, incarceration, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, minorities, Police, police education & training, police force, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, The New York Times, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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African American men specifically and men of color in general, put their lives on the line every day when they walk outside of their residence or simply appear in public. For the people that are not of color in America, this statement might seem somewhat amusing or offered in jest. On the contrary, the statement is not an opinion, but a fact. The reason for this experience comes directly from the social conditioning of European Americans generally and law enforcement agents specifically. Society and by extension, the governments, local, state, and national have given the law enforcers the power to exercise total control of its citizens without fear of reprisal; that is, they have no fear of repercussions for their actions against citizens. The attitude and action of many of these law enforcers seem to be that people of color have no rights that the officers should respect. For the people of color, once they are stopped by officers, they lose all their rights and privileges while the officers exert total control over the individuals.
The criminal justice system works in favor of the officer, not the citizens of color because the word of the officer is taken over that of the citizens. Historically, the relationship between the African American community and the European American one has been one of dominance and control by law enforcement. According to Danielle Sered, “The racially inequitable legacy of policing stretches back to the formation of this nation, and police have not only failed to protect communities of color from harm, but they have enacted enormous levels of harm.” She continued by noting that “This [harm] is not simply or most importantly about individual police officers, many of whom have the best intentions and even behavior in their work. It is about an institution with a history of enabling and enforcing the worst disparities in our country’s history.” More specifically, she added that “It is about officers who returned escaped people to the plantations they were fleeing, officers who publicly announced the times of lynchings to be carried out in the backyards of their own precincts, officers who drove black residents out of neighborhoods where they had bought homes,” and finally, “officers who continue to arrest, assault, and shoot black people at glaringly disproportionate rates.” So the question of trust in the criminal justice system has never been one that people of color readily embraced.
Americans have been socially conditioned to fear African Americans generally, but especially one with whom they are not familiar. According to one source, new scientific research provides some data into how African American men are perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” (American Values Institute, March 2013) When European Americans join the criminal justice system they do not leave their fear of African American males at home, but bring them to their workplace. This fear might explain why many European American law enforcers become excited and aggressive when engaging with an African American male.
Fortunately for the Law enforcement agents, their actions against people of color are not often questioned, so the fear of having to suffer any consequences for their unreasonable treatment of people of color is not usually scrutinized. The public record of their actions speaks for itself and supports the fact that officers are not held to the same standard of behavior as other citizens. So, they often misuse and abuse the power granted them by the system. A recent incident underscores the power given to law enforcers who are free to profile, stop, and detain men of color without offering any reasons for their actions. A recent New York Times article noted that an African American man wearing a protective mask and working outside near a white van when a Miami police officer drives up next to this man. Next, “The officer steps out of his squad car. Words are exchanged. Then the officer handcuffs and detains the man, Dr. Armen Henderson, who was recently featured in a Miami Herald article about volunteers who provide free coronavirus testing for homeless people in downtown Miami.”Rather than seeking information from the doctor regarding his actions, the officer ignored the doctor’s informing him of who he was and what he was doing. The doctor did not have any identification on him and would have been taken away had he not called for his wife who came out of their home and confronted the officer. Once the officer realized that he had made a mistake, he removed the handcuffs from the doctor and left the scene without any word of his actions or an apology.
What this incident shows is the vulnerability of African American males to the justice system that ignores everything but skin color in administering their control. The fact that Henderson is a doctor, a volunteer risking his life in helping to fight the coronavirus or the fact that he was working in front of his home wearing a protective mask made no difference to the officer who did not take the time to inquire about or grasp the nature of Henderson’s presence at that location. One wonders what kind of education the officer received at the academy regarding the treatment of citizens.
If society can benefit from this crisis of the coronavirus it should be in the fact that to the virus we are all one. The virus does not discriminate on the bases of ethnicity, age, economic or educational status, social position, religion or health. We, hopefully, understand that by working together even though we are sometimes put in harm’s way, that our combined efforts and sacrifice will help us to finally successfully control and manage this crisis thereby contributing to our mutual survival. We must learn that our strength is our unity.

Paul R. Lehman, The Customer is not always right, especially if she is bigoted

March 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, Amira Donahue, biological races, discrimination, Disrespect, employment, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, justice, law enforcement agencies, race, racism, respect, skin color, social conditioning, U. S. Census | 1 Comment
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An incident in an Olive Garden restaurant in Evansville, Indiana reported in the U.S. News, (3/4/2020) by Janelle Griffith, involved a European American female customer requesting that she and her party not be served by a person of color. The manager of the restaurant accepted and accommodated the customer’s request. Obviously, the manager’s action relative to the customer’s request caused a number of problems for a variety of people at the time. His reactions to the customer’s request affected the employees, all the employees, but especially those of color. His actions also affected the customers, and again, especially those of color. Regardless of what the manager’s objective was in acknowledging the request, the repercussions revealed at least four levels of social conditioning in society relative to ethnic bigotry.
The first level of social conditioning was that of the customer who felt well within her rights and privileges to make the request. Since the Anglo-Saxons came to American from England, they have sought to instill their myths and superstitions about their superiority and dominance over all people of color; they do not consider themselves to be of color but to represent the human race. Therefore, everybody but them is identified as belonging to an inferiority ethnic group. That attitude of superiority became a part of the American fabric of belief that was conditioned in the homes, schools, churches, courts, jobs and every place that people frequented. Whenever an Anglo-Saxon/European American person felt uncomfortable in the presence of a person of color, they simply requested that the person color be removed usually by the local law enforcers, and their request was honored. That practice still exists today in many places as many of the videos on social media attest. So, for the customer to make her request was not something out of the ordinary; she has been socially conditioned to believe her request would be honored given past experiences.
The second level of social conditioning appeared in the actions of the manager. The primary reason for his accepting and honoring the customer’s biased request was due to the fact that he shared her mindset. What he did not consider at the time was where he was and what he was doing. Had he not shared the same attitude of Anglo-Saxon bigotry he would not have even entertained the request from the beginning. In essence, he ignored the rights and privileges of the employees who were people of color to accommodate the wishes of this Anglo-Saxon European American customer. He might have thought that he was following the business mantra relative to the customer being right, but the customer is not within his or her rights to assume an unreasonable request would be honored. Again, social conditioning is very difficult to overcome when it has been a part of a person’s everyday experience and generally, not questioned.
The third level of social conditioning involved the people of color in the restaurant who were employees. For the employees, the manager and customer seemingly joined forces in honoring the obviously bigoted request. In addition, while the customer’s request was despicably biased, the actions of the manager were equally despicable and denigrating to the employees. Rather than standing up for the principles and the dignity of the employees, the manager sided with the customer and thereby lost the respect, trust, and confidence of his employees. Why would anyone want to work for or with someone who does not respect them as human beings with all the rights and privileges of any other human being? The problem is Anglo-Saxons/European Americans are not conditioned to view people of color generally, as valuable human beings.
Amira Donahue, 16, a hostess at the restaurant said she was so upset by the incident that she began crying, all of which was witnessed by Maxwell Robbins, a customer: “The young lady was in tears and had no one to support her,” Robbins said Wednesday. “So I felt if I didn’t write this post, nothing would have happened and she would continue to go to work for a place that she feels uncomfortable at and unwanted at.”
The people of color who were customers in the restaurant experienced the fourth level of social conditioning that all too frequently occurs in America today. Fortunately, as customers, they expected to be treated with the civility and respect as the other customers, but when they see an injustice taking place, they no longer ignore it but call attention to it so that some positive action can be taken to prevent it from reoccurring. However, the people of color also understand that the social conditioning in America has been to accommodate the requests of Anglo-Saxon European Americans where possible in spite of the concerns of the people of color. In other words, after the request has been honored, an apology is forthcoming to the people of color with promises of a repeat occurrence not happening again. Of course, the request should have been denied at the start, but old habits die hard.
Education in America has failed to promote the truth about the myth of race and the superstition of accepting it as legitimate and factual. We are asked to believe that the characteristics of one individual are representative of an entire group of people and so anyone that looks like or shares some cultural characteristic of that group become fixed forever. That is exactly what happens when people are identified on the bases of their skin color or ethnic history. Society and the government are complicit in the promotion, maintaining, and supporting the concept of a race without ever defining it. The U.S. Census Bureau continues to use the words race and ethnicity as though they are synonymous with each other which they are not, but not being able to define a word does not seem to represent a problem for them.
The incident in the Olive Garden was not something out of the ordinary from both the customer’s request and the manger’s honoring the request. Several years ago, a European American male entered a public hospital in Pennsylvania with his pregnant wife and requested that no people of color attend her during her visit. His request was granted. Of course, apologies followed after the birth of her child and the wife’s release from the hospital.

Paul R. Lehman, Addressing the problem of Jail and Prison overcrowding should begin with examining the police Officers

June 17, 2019 at 11:59 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, Arizona, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Police, police education & training, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, whites | 2 Comments
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Another in the continuing series of videos involving police officers and their actions relative to African Americans and other people of color show police officers in Arizona assaulting a young African American family. We have heard the excuse that these officers represent only a few “bad apples” and should not be seen as representing all police officers, but the frequency of occurrences and the lack of reactions from the “good ones” lead us to recognize that bigotry is part of the culture of law enforcement in America. If the criminal justice system is to be examined for the numerous problems related to community relations and the incarceration of people of color, then the examination should begin with the police officers, the police unions, and the local court systems.

When we look at the videos of police officers interacting with people of color one of the first things we notice is a lack of respect given to a fellow human being. The language and tone of voice is usually laced with profanity and bellowed or shouted at the citizens. In many cases orders are issued to the citizens so quickly and inconsistently that the citizen cannot comply in a reasonable and timely manner. When citizens ask questions as to why they were stopped or being detained or arrested, the police usually ignore them and disregard anything they might say. Rarely do we see on these videos officers speaking to citizens of color in a calm, civil and respectful manner, the opposite is generally the rule.

Another element of the videos that calls attention to the police officers is their physical demeanor and body language when engaging with an African American or person of color. Their initial contact with the citizen is one that assumes guilt, and the posture suggests high emotional tension, fear, and general uneasiness similar to that of a combat zone. Any physical contact between the citizen and the officer is usually instigated by the officer. The citizens are generally treated as though they are wild animals that need to be restrained because they are very dangerous and vicious.

Another element the videos show is the number of police officers participating in an incident that could have been resolved by one officer asking a few simple questions and getting an assessment of the situation. The recent video of the young African American family in Phoenix, Arizona that was harassed by local police is a prime example of unnecessary escalation of negative action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaqjO5cWJeo the actions of the police were so outrageous that the mayor of Phoenix issued an apology for the city and promised to have this incident investigated. Had it not been for the alert and timely action of a bystander who captured the action on camera, the case would have been the word of the citizens against that of the police. We know the history of how many police reports do not coincide with the videos and create doubt in what officer’s report.

After calling attention to the language, demeanor, and physical actions of police in general, one has to wonder about the education and training would-be-officers receive and the continued training officers are required to receive. A common excuse given by officers or their supervisors regarding accusations of excessive force or physical abuse is that they were simply following training procedures. When officers show general disrespect for citizens of color in their use of language and their excessive physical force in their dealings with them, one has to wonder about the education and training they receive from the academy or source of training. When and where are they taught to treat each human being with dignity respect regardless of their skin complexion or social and economic status?

The young father from the Phoenix video mentioned that he had been teaching his five-year-old daughter to respect the police because their job is to protect and ensure safety. However, after her experience with officers point a gun in her face along with those of her mother and father, he would have a difficult time getting her to believe that the police are our friends.

Focusing on the negative and outrageous actions of some police officers are not meant to cast aspersion on all police officer, but to underscore that regardless of the complaints and claims against the police regarding their experience with the communities of color, little to nothing has changed. The lack of any significant change can be attributed in part to the Police unions because of their power and prestige within city government. The union has worked hard to foster the idea of the police officers being extraordinary because they put their life on the line supposedly for the citizens. If law enforcement is viewed as a profession, then many other professions involve individuals putting their lives on the line every day as well, but they are not viewed as extraordinary as law enforcement. Why? The unions have a lot to do with this image because it supports and empowers them. Some mayors in cities across the nation are subjected to the power and influence of the police unions in how the police departments are operated.

So, if the many civic groups and organizations working to address the many problems concerning jail over-crowding and excessive incarcerations in the prisons, then the first place to seek redress is with the element in the criminal justice system responsible for supplying the individual to the system. Attention should be given education, experience, the background of the individuals that want to serve as law enforcers. In addition, education and training are both important requirements of law enforces with education receiving equal or more attention to those who want to serve and protect the community. We have to stop the supply of individuals to the jails and prisons if we want to have any impact on the problem of over-crowding.

For all intent and purposes, controlling the supply pipeline to the jails and prison are essential to addressing any of the other problems with reference to correcting the criminal justice system. Once a citizen is arrested a whole new set of problems come into play—the court system.

Paul R. Lehman, Correcting problems in the Criminal Justice System begins at the top

March 19, 2019 at 3:07 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American history, American Racism, Bigotry in America, blacks, criminal justice, Department of Justice, desegregation, education, entitlements, equality, ethnic stereotypes, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, fairness, integregation, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, mass incarceration, Media and Race, Michelle Alexander, minorities, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, President Obama, race, racism, reforms, respect, segregation, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, socioeconomics, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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The announcement made recently about the decision to not charge the police officers who killed Terence Crutcher and Stephon Clark might have come as a surprise to some but was expected by others because of the history of criminal justice relative to African Americans and other people of color. The decisions to not charge the officers could have been easily made by someone blind and brain-dead. When Eric Holder served as Attorney General, he along with then President Obama made attempts to challenge law enforcement to change the practices, policies, behavior, and laws that discriminate against African Americans in particular and about all people in general. Since that time, many changes relative to criminal justice have been addressed in many locations throughout the United States. The focus of these changes and challenges varies from excessive fines for people who cannot pay them to redefining sentences of people of color whose only serious offense was the color of their skin. Once they get caught up in the maze of the criminal justice system, their lives are completely and forever negatively altered.

Oklahoma leads America, and in some instances, the world in incarceration especially of women. Efforts by many civic groups are working to reduce the numbers. Some of the efforts have been successful via bills the public supported and approved. While all the efforts of groups like the ACLU and others in addressing the problems in the criminal justice system, they have not yet focused on the primary problem of the system—the biased culture within the criminal justice system beginning with law enforcement and including the courts as well as officers of the court. That is, rather than focusing on the cause of the problems attendant to citizens who have been arrested, the majority of the efforts by interested and involved groups are on the problem of those incarcerated. In order to correct the many problems in the criminal justice system, we must look first at where the system begins—what puts the wheels in motion.

What determines the attitudes and actions of the law enforcers from the small towns to the large metropolises begins with the mayors, the councils and courts. They are the ones who make the laws and create the climate and culture that informs the police and other law enforcers. If change is to come to the criminal justice system in American then it must begin with those who administer the programs that represent the criminal justice system. Having the administrators and city or town council members undergo diversity training is generally a waste of time and money because that training does not address the issue of ethnic bigotry that is a part of the everyday cultural climate. We know this biased culture exists from the plethora of incidents that occur and are shown daily on social media. These incidents occur in spite of the diversity training these administrators, council members and court officers have received. We know this ethnic bias exists from the numerous police officers that have suffered no legal repercussion from having shot and killed a person of color.

One thing that needs to happen in order to make the criminal justice system applicable to all citizens is to educate the top administrators, council members and court judges and other officers to what democracy looks like from a perspective that recognizes the bias that presently exists and how they are implicated in the culture and climate that promotes, support, and maintains it. The fact that the majority of people incarcerated are people of color seemingly represents no call for action or consequence. The fact is that the number of people of color is adjudicated differently and more harshly than European American citizens seem to be viewed as acceptable represents a big problem that begs for attention and correction. However, if the people who administer and are the caretakers of the system of criminal justice are fine with the status quo then something needs to be done to alert them to the injustice they are delivering to American citizens who happen to be people of color.

If the problems of bigotry and injustice in the criminal justice system today are promoted, supported, and maintained through ignorance, then education, not training should help in remedying some of the problems. Other avenues of approach would be removal from office via election or for some judges, impeachment. The citizens should be made aware of the amount of money they pay out to citizens that receive judgments from the civil courts for the misconduct of police and other law enforcement officers. One would think that the officers found guilty in civil court should shoulder some of the monetary responsibility as well as the unions that support and represent these officers. That way the citizens would not have to bear the entire expense for the officers’ actions.

The American system of criminal justice is generally a good system when it is administered in a democratic and fair way; however, when ethnic and cultural biases are represented in the outcome negatively affecting people of color, then corrective action must be taken. Again, the actions of the many concerned groups addressing the problems that focus on incarceration are welcomed and, indeed, applauded and encouraged, but their efforts are focused on the citizens that are already incarcerated and part of the system. In order to impact positively the system of criminal justice, the focus must be at the beginning. Michelle Alexander noted in her work, The New Jim Crow, that “A study sponsored by the U.S. Justice Department and several of the nation’s leading foundations, published in 2007, found that the impact of the biased treatment is magnified with each additional step into the criminal justice system.” The evidence is clear.

The biased treatment of people of color in the criminal justice system is due to unconscious and conscious ethnic bigotry that infects the decision-making process of those entrusted with those powers. In order for the system of criminal justice to be fairly administered, those biases must be addressed at the beginning before the arrest is made. So, now that we know where to begin, if we are not part of the solution, then we are the problem.

Paul R. Lehman, Mesa,Arizona, and the police beatings of people of color go on and on and on

June 8, 2018 at 11:35 pm | Posted in African American, Bigotry in America, blacks, Constitutional rights, criminal justice, discrimination, Disrespect, equality, Ethnicity in America, European Americans, fairness, justice, law enforcement agencies, minority, Oklahoma, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, Tulsa, whites | Leave a comment
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Four Mesa, Arizona police officers have been placed on paid leave while an investigation into their use of excessive force against an unarmed African American is being conducted. Fortunately, a video of the incident was available so viewers could see for themselves what took place. Apparently, someone from an apartment building called the police to report a disturbance at that location. A young African American man, Robert Johnson, was waiting for an elevator and talking on his cell phone when he was approached by several police officers. Without any conversation, they began to frisk him, and then apparently, ordered the young man to move to another location away from the elevator, which he did while continuing to talk on his phone. Once he moved to the location where he had been ordered by the officer, he was then ordered to sit on the floor. Showing some hesitation in sliding down the wall to the floor, several officers began punching him in the face. Since he was leaning against the wall, he could not fall freely to the floor, so an officer bent down and pulled his legs out from under him at which time he landed on the floor. The officers continued to beat him until his hands were secured behind him. At no time did he offer any resistance.

The old saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” could easily apply here in that the conduct of the officers was in question from the very beginning. Not once before the officer began their assault on the young man did they attempt to engage him in a civil conversation. Their attitude was seemingly that of a big bully that demanded immediate action when an order was given. The officers apparently had a perceived notion to enter into an altercation with the young man since they wasted no time in initiating their punches. At no time did any of the other officers present seek to stop the assault or advise the officers of their conduct relative to their actions. So, what do these pictures tell us about some police officers?

One of the first things this video tells us about these officers is that they have no respect for the young African American man. He was not treated respectfully like citizens should expect to be treated if they are minding their own affairs and causing attention to themselves. They showed a total disregard for his Constitutional rights by beginning their search of his body for something without cause. Johnson had no weapons, only a cell phone. The officers next used their authority as bullies to order Johnson to a wall on the opposite side of the area while still not informing him of anything that he did or was suspected of doing. Since he was surrounded by four fully armed and anxious officers, Johnson readily complied with the officers’ order to move. As soon as he removed his cell phone from his ear, the beating began.

We might ask the question of why the police officers acted towards Johnson in this type of aggressive manner. They knew that Johnson poised no problem of violence or having a weapon on him after they searched him and he complied with their orders. Yet, the officers felt that they were well within their rights to beat an unarmed man for no reason except for the fact that he was a person of color. One thing is certain from the actions of the officers, and that is reason played no part in their decision to beat Johnson. We know from many past similar experiences that the excuses of being afraid for their lives or feeling threatened or not being respected or obeyed were used to justify their actions. A simple answer to why they use excessive force and murder against people of color is because they do not consider them to be human beings.

We might also ask the question of why is the society in general not outraged by the repeated unacceptable actions of these police officers against people of color. Could it be that they also do not see people of color as human beings? One reason for our making that assumption rests on the history of the repercussions experienced by many of the officers who committed atrocious acts against people of color. We would be incorrect in labeling the treatment many of the officers received for the actions as repercussions. The four officers from the Mesa Police Department were placed on paid leave. In others words, they received a paid vacation for their efforts, but no negative consequences. In the case of Betty Shelby, the female Tulsa, Oklahoma officer who shot and killed Terrance Crutcher in the back while he was walking away from her, after her department’s report stated that she should not be allowed to serve as an officer dealing with the public, she was given a job in a city a few miles north of Tulsa. She was recently featured in a newspaper article where she had received a promotion and now offers classes to teach officers how to beat charges of abuse and excessive force. The list of officers not being held responsible for their misdeeds is too long to include here.

While the general American public remains silent relative to these officers’ display of abuse of people of color accompanied with a chevalier attitude, they do not seem to realize that although the officers do not have to assume responsibility for their actions, the citizens for whom the officers work must pay large settlement payments to the victims and/or their families. The ethnic demographics are rapidly changing the makeup of American society and with those changes will come the need to redirect the focus and objectives of law enforcement. Some departments are making changes now because they understand that the amount of money being paid for officer’s mistakes could be put to better use in educating them to treat all citizens fairly.

We have not seen the last video of police abuse of unarmed African American citizens simply because the system does not require them to take responsibility for their actions. The system must be replaced.

 

Paul R. Lehman, The Starbucks incident involving the arrest of two African American men shows the need for implicit education as well as training.

April 16, 2018 at 11:43 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, law enforcement agencies, Prejudice, Race in America, whites | 3 Comments
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The recent arrest of two African American males at a Starbucks coffee shop in Philadelphia by police for no apparent reason has generated a plethora of questions regarding cultural bias and social justice. The situations, from media reports, involved two African American men who went to this Starbucks store to meet with someone. They apparently arrived before the party with whom they were to meet and so decided to sit and wait for their party. They asked to use the bathroom but were told by the employees that they could not use it because they had not purchased anything. At some point afterward they were asked by the employees to leave, but they refused.

 

The reports noted that a statement from the Philadelphia Police Department Commissioner Richard Ross confirmed: “that on Thursday afternoon at 4:40 p.m., Philadelphia police received a 911 call from the Starbucks at 18th and Spruce Streets alleging disturbance and trespassing.” The two men were arrested, handcuffed, and taken to jail where they were placed in a holding cage for approximately eight hours, then released. No charges were made against them. A number of the people in the store at the time made known to the officers that the men were doing nothing wrong.

 

Fortunately, the men were unarmed and cooperated with the police or the outcome of the incident could have been tragic owning to the experiences of other men of color interacting with police officers. However, the primary question is why were they arrested, cuffed, and taken to jail in the first place? We cannot be certain of the specific reasons, but we can certainly address some possibilities that led to the incident. One reason has to do with implicit cultural bias. The person who called 911 and informed the police that the two men were creating a disturbance and trespassing did so because of the perception and judgment of the men. Perhaps men of color did not frequent that particular Starbucks, so their presence was unusual for the caller to experience. So their presence in the store created in her a sense of fear.

 

After the incident, both Philadelphia’s mayor and the police Commissioner made statements relative to their concerns about the incident. The Commissioner commented that his officers did nothing wrong; they simply followed orders requested by Starbucks. He also underscored the point that all his commanders received implicit bias training. He also stated that all the new recruits visit both the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. The visits to these museums are supposed to show the recruits ethnic atrocities committed by policing

 

The mayor commented that seeing the headlines of the Starbucks incident in the headlines

was disheartening to him and the incident “appears to exemplify what racial discrimination looks like in 2018.”He also suggested that Starbucks’ apology was not enough to satisfy his concerns about the incident and that he would look into whether the employees at Starbucks’ should receive more implicit bias training.

 

The one key phrase used by both the Commissioner and the Mayor was “implicit bias training.”To be sure, training is necessary when developing a skill is important, but what is more important and should come before the training is education. Both training and education are parts of the learning experience. However, most of the research over the last decade and longer indicate that people in general only have conscious access to 5 percent of our brains and that much of our brain’s work happens on the unconscious level. In other words, when implicit bias occurs, that does not mean that people are hiding their ethnic and cultural biases; in essence, they do not know they have these biases.

 

Training helps to develop skills while education helps one to understand the skills and how they should be implemented. Training officers, as well as people in general, might help them do their job in some aspect of human relations, but education is needed for them to understand the presence of implicit cultural biases in their perceptions of people. So, the reference to officers and employees receiving more implicit training seems to be counterproductive if the objective is for them to be cognizant of what they are doing when they are doing it.

 

An example of implicit bias might serve to underscore the point of training and education relative to implicit bias training. An incident occurred a year or so ago where an inmate form a medical facility had left the grounds and was sitting in the middle of the street playing with some object. Someone called 911 and the police arrived. When the attendant who was also in the street talking to the inmate saw the police, he lies on his back and put both hands in the air to show he was not armed or represented a threat to the officers. When an officer approached him with his gun drawn, the attended told him that he worked at the facility and was presently trying to talk the inmate back onto the facility grounds. The European American officer shot the African American attendant in the leg. When the attendant asked the officer why he shot him since he had no weapon and represented to threat to him, the officer answered, “I don’t know.”We might assume that the officer was not thinking but simply reacted to the bias common among European American law officers—a fear of African American males.

 

While we appreciate and applaud the efforts of the Philadelphia Mayor and Police Commissioner relative to the need for implicit bias training, what we feel is more important in addition to the training is implicit bias education. All human beings have biases and prejudices, implicit as well as explicit, but the implicit ones are often unknown to them. With education, they have the opportunity to learn why the training is so important for them and all concerned. First, a bias must be discovered, then embraced, and overcome before success can be achieved. Training to overcome an unperceived bias is wasted time and effort. The officers who viewed the ethnic museums must learn that the experience was not entertainment, but lessons that underscore the fact that were are all implicated in the actions of all human beings.

Paul R. Lehman, Reasons why European American (white) police shoot and kill African Americans

March 31, 2018 at 7:30 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, American Racism, amygdala, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, Breaking Ranks, criminal justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, European Americans, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, Norm Stamper, Race in America, social conditioning, the Black Codes, white supremacy, whites | 3 Comments
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The police officers shooting and killing an unarmed African American man in Sacramento, California recently should come as no surprise to anyone who has been following the news the last four to five years. The excuses for the shootings are always the same: the officers reveal that they feared for their lives or they felt their lives were threatened, or the victim made a threatening gesture or movement towards them or they thought he or she had a gun in their hands. All of these reasons are viewed as justifiable for the shooting of a suspect. On the other hand, the family of the victim always asks the questions: why did you not wait to assess the situation before you fired shots? Why did you not use another of the tools available to you like the tazer, rubber bullets, nightstick, and bean bags? Why could you not have shot him or her in the arm or leg or some non-deadly place? Why did you not give the victim time to respond to your commands?

The fact that this scenario keeps happening over and over again is not an accident or the action of a few bad officers but part of a culture that permeates the entire criminal justice system. Most officers know that regardless of their actions, their department and union will always take their word as valid over any citizen, so the fear of serious repercussions for a wrong deed does not represent an impediment to their actions. The American public has witnessed many times the results of a police shooting via video that contradicts the report of the officers. Yet, the officers walk away without being held responsible for the misdeeds committed. To blame be officers for not being held responsible for their deeds is not their fault but the system that supports them including the Attorney General, District attorney, prosecutor, judge, jury, and society.

What many African Americans understand about the criminal justice system in American is that it has always been biased against them as clearly recorded by history from before Reconstruction, the Black Codes, and Jim Crow. Many European Americans generally support law enforcement actions without question and by doing so allow injustices to continue against people of color. Some present and former police officers have readily admitted that a culture of hate, fear, anger, and bigotry against African Americans exist in law enforcement.  From where do these feelings derive? The most obvious answer identifies social conditioning as the primary contributor to ethnic bias in American society that is retained by people who become part of the criminal justice system directly and indirectly.

Norm Stamper, a former police officer and author of the book Breaking Rank (2005) underscored the European American law officers’ perception of the African Americans: “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘colorblindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”These feelings are not reserved for European American law enforcers only. Paul Butler, in his book Choke Hold (2017), noted that recent scientific research shed some light on how many African Americans are generally perceived: “When people see black men they don’t know, they have a physical response that is different from their response to other people. Their blood pressure goes up and they sweat more. When a white person sees an unfamiliar black male face, the amygdala, the part of the brain that processes fear, activates.” Earlier studies also indicated that the negative reactions of European American law officers towards African American males may because by unconscious social bias rather than deliberate actions.

Michelle Alexander in her book The New Jim Crow (2013) noted that a number of studies showed how some European Americans reacted to images of European Americans and African Americans in an exercise that considered observation, interpretation, and reaction. She noted, “that racial schemas operated not only as part of conscious, rational deliberations, but also automatically—without awareness or intent.” This study might possibly explain why some European American police officers act irrationally when having to deal with African Americans and people of color in general:

One study, for example, involved a video game that placed photographs of white and black individuals holding either a gun or other object (such as a wallet, soda can or cell phone into various photographic backgrounds. Participants were told to decide as quickly as possible whether to shoot the target. Consistent with earlier studies, participants were more likely to mistake a black target as armed when he was not, and mistake a white target as unarmed, when in fact he was armed. This pattern of discrimination reflected automatic, unconscious thought processes, not careful deliberations (p. 107)

The fact that ethnic bias is central to the social conditioning in America accounts for the unconscious bias of many European Americans; that bias can be manifested either implicitly, explicitly or both. Consequently, many European Americans can honestly believe that they are not biased against African Americans because many of their friends, relatives, and associates are African American, however, that fact does not mean they are free of biases.  Alexander noted that “Implicit bias test may still show that you [European Americans] hold negative attitudes and stereotypes about blacks, even though you do not believe you do and do not want to. In the study described above, for example, black participants showed an amount of ‘shooter bias’ similar to that shown by whites” (107). Of course, fewer European Americans are shot and killed by African American police officers than by European American officers.

Armed with the scientific information from the various studies mentioned, we can assert that much more than police training is necessary to replace the biased ethnic culture in our criminal justice system. The problem of ethnic bias must be the first item on the agenda to be addressed, not through training, but education. Society must fully understand and reject the bias before it can begin to replace it.

Paul R. Lehman, Americans and the challenge of the criminal justice system

November 13, 2017 at 4:35 pm | Posted in American Bigotry, Bigotry in America, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, fairness, interpretations, justice, justice system, law enforcement agencies, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, racism, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social justice system, The Associated Press, Tulsa, white supremacy, whites | 1 Comment
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When Americans think of the criminal justice system in America they usually recognize it as a reasonable, rational, and fair agency of society. What we often do not see relative to the criminal justice system is the American society that is represented by the criminal justice system. We focus generally on the law enforcement agencies or courts rather than the people in society that make-up and contribute to the system. The fact that most of the law enforcement agents, police, are set freed or shown as not guilty of killing unarmed African Americans reflect on the people responsible for adjudicating justice. We acknowledge that the culture of the criminal justice system in America is biased against African Americans, but the system actually reflects the biased society.

A case in point is that of Betty Jo Shelby, a European American (white) female and a former Tulsa police officer who was acquitted in the fatal shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher.  According to media reports, Shelby was on duty when she saw an SUV that was stopped in the middle of the street, the vehicle belonged to Crutcher.  We learn that “Shelby testified at trial that she was scared because Crutcher appeared to be under the influence of drugs, didn’t obey her commands and looked liked he was reaching inside his vehicle.”(Justin Juoapavicus, Associated Press, 10/26/2017)

Videos of the incident did not coincide with Shelby’s testimony in that Crutcher was shown to be at least fifteen feet in front of her with both of his hands up in the air; the windows of his SUV were rolled-up. A fellow officer was standing next to Shelby when she fired her weapon killing Crutcher. After Crutcher was shot, no aid or medical attention was given to check on his well-being until after several minutes had passed.

The fact that Shelby shot and killed Crutcher cannot be disputed since the incident was captured on video. However, the reasons for the shooting by Shelby can be brought into scrutiny relative to those adjudicating her case, the jury. For the court to acquit Shelby of the shooting leaves us to question their qualifications to make such a judgment. The primary reason for the shooting according to Shelby was her fear of Crutcher. How can we explain the jury’s actions of a not guilty finding if police officers feel threatened or that their lives are in danger when an unarmed African American walking away from them with his hands in the air? If Shelby is simply afraid of African American men, then she should not be working in law enforcement or any other place where she will encounter African American men.

Since the jury accepted her defense of fear of African American men, we might assume that they consider it a legally accepted defense for European American (white) officers shooting people of color. What happens when officers walk into a supermarket or mall or church and there they see African American men? Do they fear for their lives in these circumstances as well and so would be justified in shooting them? Many of the videos in recent years have shown this to be the case. We must ask where is the reasoning, rationale, and justice for the actions of the jury?

One of the conclusions we must draw from these actions is that of ethnic bias of the jury. Since the majority of the jury make-up in American is European Americans (whites), we must also conclude that they do not represent for the African Americans a ‘jury of their peers’ but more a jury representing the European American (white) officers. Since fear of African Americans and people of color appears to be a problem for many European American (white) law enforcers, why are they hired? And if hired, why are they not educated to treat people of color with the same decency and respect they would give other citizens?

The answer is simply because of their social conditioning which underscores the privilege accorded to them, European Americans (white), for their skin complexion. Simultaneously, European Americans (whites) are conditioned to view people of color as inferior in general, but to view African Americans with fear, anger, and dream because they are dangerous. Many European Americans (whites) do not realize their bigotry because their acquisition was acquired through everyday life at home, school, church etc. As a cognitive scientist, Justin L. Barrett, noted, “What we learn through testimony or through behavioral imitation is importantly influenced by social context biases.” He added that “we model our thought and behaviors on others based upon what we perceive most others think and do (conformity bias), favor prestigious individuals for role models (prestige bias) and prefer to ape those whom we see as similar to ourselves or whom we want to be (similarity bias).” So, to many European Americans (whites) ethnic bigotry is not something that is unusual or viewed as out of the ordinary life experience.

What we find puzzling about the actions of the Americans citizens who serve as part of the criminal justice system is how they equate reason, rationale, and justice with their actions. For example, shortly after being acquitted for the shooting and killing of Terence Crutcher, that portion of Betty Shelby’s record will be removed, and subsequently, will be expunged: “District Judge William LaFortune also ordered all documents involving former Tulsa officer Betty Jo Shelby’s case sealed and kept with the court. The case will only be accessible through a court order and can be destroyed after 10 years, according to the law.” (Justin Juoapavicus)

What we can observe from Shelby’s case is that after shooting and killing an innocent American citizen because she was in fear, not threatened or felt to be in harm’s way, she was acquitted of all charges and walked away from the incident with no repercussions. We have learned that she has been recently employed in a law enforcement position in a nearby town. In 10 years, no one will even know what she did except the family and friends of Terence Crutcher, Shelby, and the jury. After all, it was incumbent on the jury to administer a finding based on reason, rationale, and justice, but they failed in every respect. We, Americans, cannot allow this form of injustice to continue because whether we realize it or not, the mistreatment of any American affects us all. Act–find a way to make a difference.

Paul R. Lehman, Georgia cop’s statement “We only shoot blacks,” underscores culture bigotry

September 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Posted in African American, American Bigotry, black inferiority, blacks, criminal activity, Department of Justice, discrimination, equality, Ethnicity in America, European American, justice, justice system, law, law enforcement agencies, Media and Race, Norm Stamper, police force, Prejudice, Race in America, respect, skin color, skin complexion, social conditioning, social justice system, whites | 1 Comment
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Many European Americans are beginning to see and realize the attitude and treatment received by African Americans from law enforcement. For too many years African Americans have been made to look like the evil and dangerous villains that deserve the abuse and even death they receive from law enforcement. When African Americans complained about the injustice and bigotry of the criminal justice system, many European Americans turned a blind eye and deaf ear to those complaints. Today, with the benefit of video technology the public is able to witness the behavior of law enforcement agents and their treatment of people of color. A recent incident involving a police officer and an assumed European American woman provides evidence to support the problem of ethnic bigotry in America.

An article by Terence Cullen in the New York Daily News (8/31/2017) told about the incident that underscores many of the claims against law enforcement and the deaths of many African Americans. The officer involved in the incident was Cobb County (Georgia) Lt. Greg Abbott and the article noted that “Abbott pulled the sedan over on suspicion of driving under the influence and told a woman in the passenger seat to use the cell phone in her lap. The woman tells the 28-year veteran she’s afraid to move her hands. ‘I’ve just seen way too many videos of cop,’ the woman says before Abbott cuts her off. ‘But you’re not black’ he says. ‘Remember, we only shoot black people.” The officer’s comments tell us much about him and our society.

One of the first things the officer does with respect to his comment about the woman not being black is to show his biased social conditioning relative to the concept of races. He does not question the authenticity of the concept; he simply accepts it and proceeds with his beliefs. All Americans have been conditioned to accept the concept of races, black and white, as legitimate when we know that the concept is false, an invention to control society. By the officer identifying the woman as white, he has made a judgment about her that gives her power and privilege over people of color whether she wants it or not. The only reasonable assumption we can make about this officer’s comment relative to the woman not being black is to consider her skin complexion. We can safely assume that her complexion is deemed by the officer acceptable enough to be considered white. Whether the woman is European American or a member of some other ethnic group, we do not know. However, that determination is of little consequence to the officer who has already made his judgment relative to her identity.

American society has conditioned European Americans to view African Americans as inferior to them. As such, the need to show respect and curtsey to them is never an issue because no repercussions result from disrespecting and abusing them. This attitude of bigotry is not something taught to each generation, but shown in our way of life as being natural and normal. We ignore the facts that we are one race of people, facts given to us through the sciences, history, and even the Bible. Because the people who invented this system of bigotry also controlled all the institutions in society, they were able to keep the system alive and well. Today, many European Americans would not know their identity if they were told that they were not white; that is how extensive the social conditioning has become. They also believe that regardless of the educational, economic and political status people of color attain, the European Americans with no comparable credits is made to believe they are better. So, the color white is important to the officer as well as to the woman in the car.

Community relations have never been good between the African American community and the law enforcement community because law enforcement has always viewed African Americans as inferior. When one side of a community has preconceived ideas about the other that places them at a disadvantage, no reasonable or mutually just solution to any problem will be forth –coming. Most community relation programs instituted by law enforcement for the African American community always favor law enforcement because of their conditioned biases. Although some members of law enforcement desire to faithfully perform their jobs, they cannot deny that the culture inside of law enforcement is anti-black (African American) and that sentiment is reflected in the officer’s statement: “Remember, we only shoot black people.”

Norm Stamper, a retired European American police officer, noted in his book, Breaking Rank, (2005) that contrary to what European Americans believe, “Simply put, white cops are afraid of black men. We don’t talk about it, we pretend it doesn’t exist, we claim ‘color blindness,’ we say white officers treat black men the same way they treat white men. But that’s a lie.”Stamper’s comments are underscored by another former member of law enforcement. In his book, Choke Hold, (2017) Paul Butler, an African American former federal prosecutor and law professor at Georgetown University, defined chokehold as laws and social practices made to control African American men: “It is a two-step process. Part one is the social and legal construction of every black man as a criminal or potential criminal. Part two is the legal and policy response to contain the threat—to put down African American men literally and figuratively.” Given their experiences in law enforcement, these two individuals have no reason to make false statements about the culture of law enforcement regarding African Americans.

Officer Abbott, a 28-year veteran on the Police force, exhibited the ethnic bias that is part of the culture in which he works. Since he was conditioned by society to be biased against people of color, joining the police force did nothing to relieve him of his biases but, evidently, provided an environment in which they could be exercised with impunity. Removing Abbott from the force will not eliminate the problem of bigotry since it is societal. Whether we interpret Abbott’s statements as sarcastic or not, they flowed freely from his mouth without hesitation.  Abbott does not simply represent law enforcement, he represents American society. Until American society can label this biased culture despicable and stand together demanding justice for all our citizens, we must share in the responsibility of what this culture produces.

 

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