I am saddened and deeply concerned about the rioting that is happening in Baltimore, Maryland, today, A lot of people – especially the Blacks and African Americans – say it is caused by the Racial Targeting of blacks by white American policeman, but I think that is not the real reason. I think the problem lies much deeper than that.
On September 23, 1951, I was living and going to school in Miami, Florida, when the Carver Village Apartments were bombed by white supremacists acting under the dictator ship of the Klu Klux Klan (http://digitalcollections.fiu.edu/tequesta/files/1990/90_1_02.pdf ). As this article states, Catholic Churches were also reported to be targeted by the KKK, and the burning of crosses took place randomly around the city and outlying areas.
It was an ugly time to be living in Miami. I was 14 years old then, and often had to ride the Miami-Dade public transit system. All the bus drivers were white in those days, and they carried revolvers in their cash boxes. Signs posted and facing the entrance doors of the buses clearly stated that “Blacks” had to move to the rear of the bus. If any black person tried to sit anywhere in the front 2/3 of the bus, the driver would stand and order that person to move to the rear. If he or she made no effort to do so, the driver would open his cash box, pull out his revolver, and order that person to move to the rear or get off the bus. One day I actually saw a very frustrated bus driver fire a round into the floor of the bus during this process.
Prior to moving to Miami I went to school in the southeastern part of New Jersey, in a small rural farming and fishing village. Our neighbors represented many races and I went to school with Black, Hispanic, Italian, Irish and Japanese children. It never occurred to me then that any person should be separated from others because of his or her race or religion. But when my mother married my stepfather and moved me to Miami, we lived in an all-white neighbor and I went to an all-white school. However, in those days no one used the term “Racial Targeting.” What was happening then was just pure racial discrimination!
In 1960, while living in Miami, I married a lovely young Hispanic girl. A few months later, I was notified that I was about to be drafted, so I voluntarily joined the US Army and took my basic training at Ft. Jackson, Columbia, South Carolina. Upon completion of my basic training, my wife joined me and we rented an apartment in Columbia. One day, upon returning home from the base, I discovered my wife in tears. When I asked why she told me that she went into town to see a movie, and was not permitted to enter the movie theater because she was black. SHE WAS NOT BLACK! While living in Miami we both spent a great deal of time at the beach, and she was simply a well-tanned Latin lady (although labeled a “Caucasian,” I was almost as dark as she was from having spent many hours out in the sun with her). HOWEVER, AND AGAIN – THIS WAS NOT RACIAL TARGETING, IT WAS JUST PURE RACIAL DISCRIMINATION. (I was actually quite surprised when she told me how she had been treated. Men representing many different races and religions were housed together in the barracks at Ft. Jackson; we trained together, ate together, played together, and bathed together without any obvious signs of discrimination, but in town, where the white women shopped, it was a different story.
About a year after the Baltimore Riot of 1968, I drove through the city of Baltimore with my mother. Viewing the aftermath of those riots, the empty streets, boarded up shops, and vacant buildings with broken glass windows was unsettling to say the least.
Fire gutted buildings remain in 1969. Baltimore Sun
We were fortunate in that we did not need to stop for food or fuel because we would have certainly been afraid to get out of the car in that hostile environment. Once again, the riot was not caused by Racial Targeting, but the out-and-out result of Discrimination.
Truthfully, I do not think that I had ever heard the words “RACIAL TARGETING” until George Zimmerman was accused of “targeting” Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012. Since that day, it seems to me that the words Racial Targeting are heard in the news on TV, or appear in print in our newspapers, almost daily now.
The BLACK LIVES MATTER RIOTS RACE that started in Baltimore on Saturday (April 25, 2015) protesting the death of Freddie Gray remind me of the riots that took place in Watts, California, during August, 1965. There are many similarities (http://crdl.usg.edu/events/watts_riots/?Welcome) In both cases peaceful protesting turned into extreme violence with burning and looting and tremendous property damage. To me, the people who cause the destruction of property – the burning and looting – are not protesters, but criminals looking for booze and drugs and electronics; bad people taking advantage of the true mourners of the death of their loved ones. I do not believe that these rioters have any interest in resolving the problems of what many consider Racial Profiling or Racial Targeting.
In any case, I have become interested in trying to determine why there seems to be an increase in the incidents that lead to the charge of Racial Targeting. My research leads me to believe that Blacks or African Americans are not being targeted by local white policeman, but that the cause is a matter of numbers – percentages of total population, poverty levels, crime statistics. The 2013 US Census indicates that Whites represent 78.4% of the total population; blacks or African Americans = 13.0%, and all others = 8.6%. (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html). However, while the number of Blacks or African Americans living in the US is estimated to be 13.0% of the total US population, those living below the poverty level represent 25.8% of our total population (http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr11-17.pdf). According to the FBI, 9,014,635 cases of crime were documented in 2013. 68.9% were allegedly committed by White Americans, 28.3% were committed by Black or African Americans (double their percentage of total population), and 2.8% were committed by persons of all other races. Finally, the FBI states that 868,693 crimes were committed in 2013 by persons under the age of 18. Of these crimes, 63,0% were allegedly committed by Whites; 34.3% were committed by Blacks or African Americans, and 2.7% by all others (http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43).
You may all draw your own conclusions, but based on all of the statistics that I have compiled here, it certainly appears that the disproportionate percentage of Blacks or African Americans living below the poverty level here in the United States, and the disproportionate percentage of those same peoples committing crimes – especially those under the age of 18 – dictates that more Black or African American peoples will noticeably be arrested by White members of law enforcement at any given time and place. In addition there appears to be a great discrepancy between the number of Whites employed in law enforcement vs. the number of Blacks (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2014/08/14/racial-imbalance-exists-all-across-local-governments-not-just-in-police-departments/), consequently more Whites have to be arresting more Blacks on any given date or time.
CONCLUSION: Something must be done to reduce the number of Black or African Americans living below the poverty level. Improving education, better and more diverse employment, and subsequently better wages and better living conditions, should help a great deal to reduce the crime rates and alleged incidents of Racial Targeting.