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Tag: daunte wright

Drive-By Journalism Obscures Truth About Police Shootings And Black Lives

Cable news programming suggestion: Instead of filling every broadcast with the latest presumptive police outrage, try covering the latest drive-by killings too. Show us more of what's really happening on the streets where we live. Newspapers and local TV are already on it.

For example, the lead headline in the Chicago Sun-Times on the morning after police released video of the fatal shooting of 13 year-old Adam Toledo by a Chicago cop read "Girl, 7, fatally shot at McDonald's drive-thru."

Witnesses told reporters they were astonished by the brazenness of the gang-bangers who opened fire on a rival in front of many onlookers and several security cameras. The little girl seemingly got in the way.

Young Adam Toledo, of course, was involved in a similar shooting episode immediately before his deadly confrontation with police.

Heaven knows, Chicagoans have reason to be leery of their city's police department, but context is crucial.

This morning's headline in the Little Rock newspaper was "Peace urged after man killed, toddlers hurt by park gunfire." The toddlers were aged three and four. More collateral damage, as it's called when soldiers shoot civilians. Two young men playing basketball were the intended target; one survived. The little ones are expected to recover. Last month, however, a ten year-old girl was killed in a similar incident in another city park.

In Miami last weekend, three year-old Elijah LaFrance was killed when a gun battle erupted at a children's birthday party — the third little kid murdered there in recent months. The others were girls, aged 7 and 6.

Gang-bangers, however, don't wear body cams, so TV footage is harder to come by. Also, because filing wrongful death lawsuits against street thugs is futile, CNN's roving cast of pundits and personal injury lawyers aren't primed to respond with appropriate indignation.

"When a suspect is a person of color, there is no attempt to de-escalate the situation," civil rights lawyer and ubiquitous talking head Ben Crump said regarding a recent incident in Knoxville, Tennessee. "Police shoot first and ask questions later, time after time, because Black lives are afforded less value."

Regarding the value of Black lives, here's some important information: According to an extraordinary piece of reporting by Rick Rojas in The New York Times, Anthony J. Thompson, age 17, killed by Knoxville police in an armed confrontation in a cramped bathroom at Austin-East Magnet High School, was the fifth student from that campus to die of gun violence during this school year.

Five kids, all African-American, all shot dead at one school in one year.

"It makes it harder to get out of the house every day knowing another child has lost their life," one victim's older sister said.

So far, however, this ongoing tragedy has drawn little commentary on CNN or MSNBC. "Among our elites," my friend Bob Somerby writes, "no one cares about the gun violence which takes so many other lives. It doesn't matter if Black people get shot and killed unless it's done by police."

At his website The Daily Howler, Somerby has been writing acid commentaries about the melodramatic coverage given police/civilian shootings. In the wake of the Derek Chauvin murder trial, the sad and dangerous truth is that on anything regarding cops and race, you pretty much can't expect anything like accurate, dispassionate journalism from too much of the news media. Particularly not the cable networks.

Uncomfortable facts are routinely ignored or suppressed to preserve the good versus evil story line. Pundits appear on national TV to opine about complex life and death situations without having the first idea what they're talking about. Once the basic storyline gets laid down, it rarely changes.

Consider, for example, the tragic killing of Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb by a veteran officer who says she mistakenly fired her handgun instead of a Taser—a story so improbable it almost has to be true, and will almost certainly result in a felony conviction. Wright apparently told his mother that he was stopped for having an air freshener hanging from his rear-view mirror.

Pundits on PBS, MSNBC, the New York Times, and Washington Post have given the air-freshener angle a workout. Al Sharpton mentioned it during an emotional eulogy at Wright's funeral. So why were Brooklyn Center police arresting Wright, and why did he flee?

Well, it turns out that Wright had been charged with aggravated armed robbery in 2019, released on bail, subsequently picked up for carrying a pistol and fleeing police, released again, and then blew off a court hearing on the gun charge. He had to figure they'd keep him locked up this time.

So he tried to run. Terrible decision.

Not a capital crime, no. And still a tragedy.

But if you're one of those posting indignant Facebook screeds about cops stopping drivers for minor infractions, now you know why.

Let's End Police Traffic Stops That Bring Needless Tragedy

Driving has gotten much less dangerous over time, thanks to new safety features in cars, better highway design and a decline in drunk driving. But that's no solace to motorists who face dangers of a different kind — not when they are driving, but when they are stopped on the side of the road.

Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old African American, was fatally shot by a police officer in Minnesota after being pulled over for an expired license tag. In Virginia, Caron Nazario, a Black and Latino Army officer, was pepper-sprayed after being stopped for lacking a rear license plate — though a temporary plate was affixed to his rear window.

Jenoah Donald, a 30-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by a Kentucky sheriff's deputy who had pulled him over for a broken taillight. And it's impossible to forget Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African American, who died in 2015 in a Texas jail after being stopped for failing to signal — and was arrested for refusing to put out her cigarette.

A lot of factors figure in these deadly incidents. Police commonly have a tendency to target Black and Hispanic drivers for minor traffic offenses, and some cops are overly aggressive or inept in dealing with these motorists. Curing such failings has proven to be a difficult task.

But one solution is hiding in plain sight. None of the violence visited upon people during police traffic stops would have occurred if there had been no police traffic stop. Instead of focusing entirely on restraining cops in these situations, we should try to keep them out of these situations.

Life was different until vehicular infractions became the province of police officers. "Before the 20th century, the average American seldom came under police scrutiny," writes Columbia law professor Sarah Seo, author of Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom. "Ironically, the rise of the automobile — that embodiment of personal freedom — vastly expanded the police's powers over everybody who drove or rode in a car." Cops pull over 50,000 cars every day, 20 million per year.

Someone has to take responsibility for administering traffic laws. But there is no compelling reason for armed police to confront individuals over petty errors and trivial transgressions. It creates unnecessary hazards for cops and for those they stop.

It also invites discrimination. Various studies indicate that cops are more likely to stop Black and Hispanic drivers than white ones and more likely to search their cars — even though they are more likely to find contraband with white drivers.

In a 2013 Gallup Poll, 24% of Black men aged 18 to 34 said they had been unfairly treated by police in the last 30 days. The New York Times reported that Philando Castile, who was shot to death by a cop in Minnesota in 2016, was pulled over 49 times in 13 years — typically for minor infractions.

Contrary to myth, traffic enforcement is not a good method of catching crooks and curbing crime. In Chicago, these stops yield contraband in only 1 in 555 cases.

A 2018 study of Nashville, Tennessee, by the Policing Project at the New York University School of Law found: "Traffic stops do not appear to have a significant impact on long-term crime trends. As the number of traffic stops declined between 2012 and 2017, crime rates remained quite flat." And, "Traffic stops also do not appear to have any effect on crime in the short-term."

Unpleasant experiences breed distrust and hostility toward cops among African Americans and Hispanics. The simplest way to prevent such incidents is to remove police from the picture whenever possible.

New York Attorney General Letitia James recently proposed that New York City police cease making routine traffic stops. "Armed police officers are not needed for traffic enforcement," her report concluded, "particularly when the underlying conduct in question is not criminal, such as a broken taillight, speeding, or not wearing a seatbelt."

More use of speed and red-light cameras could greatly reduce the incidence of police-driver encounters, while promoting road safety. Unarmed traffic monitors could document minor violations by photo or video and mail citations to offenders; they could also make stops when necessary. Cops could be reserved for instances of dangerous driving.

In every traffic stop, the driver and the police officer face the risk of being killed, and too often, the risk becomes a reality. Why not take both out of the line of fire?

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Minnesota Cop Who Shot Daunte Wright In Traffic Stop Charged With Manslaughter

By Nick Pfosi and Gabriella Borter MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - The white suburban police officer who fatally shot a young Black motorist during a traffic stop in Minnesota, igniting three nights of civil unrest, was charged with manslaughter on Wednesday, a day after the officer turned in her badge. Daunte Wright, 20, was pulled over on Sunday in Brooklyn Center, just outside Minneapolis, for what police said was an expired vehicle registration, then struggled with police and was shot to death by officer Kimberly Potter, 48, who drew her handgun instead of a Taser in what officials called an accid...