Race and Presidential Politics: A Commentary on Media Stories about White Cops and Black Suspects

LBN’s Bob Donley says that “Race relations in this country are clearly becoming a hot political issue.” Donley discusses the subject, and the “why now” aspect, in this report.

Donley notes that news outlets regularly report on engagements between white police officers and black men. His concern is not with the use of force and whether it is justifiable, but “the question is, why the color line? Has something new just started happening?”

It is not clear that there has been a change. Donley says that statistics are scarce on this subject. Donley says that there is a greater percentage of black police officers killing black suspects than of white officers doing so. A study at Washington State University found that "[o]fficers were less likely to erroneously shoot unarmed black suspects than they were unarmed whites — 25 times less likely, in fact." Donley says the “why” part of the issue may be revealed by a look at recent history.

Looking back to the last presidential election, the Occupy Wall Street movement came into being. Donley remarks that stories about the movement were all over the press and all over the country. “The optics implied that the rich in this country were taking advantage of the rest of us.” The idea was that voters should elect “the person who could change all of that.” It was, says Donley, a “media-driven frenzy.” After the election was over, the tent cities went away.

Returning to the present, Donley opines that there is a similarity: news reports suggest that white police officers are attacking black men. Donley says that every officer-involved shooting should be investigated and that police misconduct should be punished. “But what’s going on today smacks of politics.” Donley believes that Democratic politicians are concerned that black voters might feel complacent and not turn out at the polls in 2016. Donley says that “the media is playing their tune once again.

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