Discussion: Missouri GOP Official: Injecting Race Into Ferguson Debate 'Is Not Helpful'

Discussion for article #226613

Wills’s comments came in the context of the Breitbart report that “liberal organizers” had established voter registration booths amid the ongoing Ferguson protests.

“If that’s not fanning the political flames, I don’t know what is,” Wills said. “I think it’s not only disgusting but completely inappropriate.”

How dare they urge protesters to turn their rage into productive action.


…but ignoring ‘race’ is gonna fix things right up…

Another fine example of the GOTP’s terminal HIH syndrome.



Unusual for the GOP not to think in terms of black and white.


Face it. It’s racial. That’s why there’s so many black people outside all night. You notice that? You notice all the whitey pro-cop counter-protests? Its, “Change it! Change it!” vs “Keep it the same! Keep it the same!”


But it is all about race.

I came across a 61 year old study of police brutality that is still relevant today. The study, “Violence and the Police,” was part of a PhD dissertation by William A. Westley and published in the American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 59, No. 1 (Jul., 1953), pp. 34-41. This paper focuses on how police come to legitimize their illegal use of violence on the citizens they are to protect.

While Westley does not identify the city, he describes it as “a municipal police department in an industrial city of approximately one hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants.”

One important factor is that recognition and promotions come from making lots of arrests, not from maintaining the peace. In Westley’s words, “Patrolmen feel that little credit is forthcoming from a clean beat (a crimeless beat), while a number of good arrests really stands our on the record. To a great extent this is actually the case, since a good arrest results in good newspaper publicity, and the policemen who made many “good pinches’” has prestige among his colleagues.”

There are strong pressures to solve “big crimes.” As one patrolman told Westley, “If it is a big case and there is a lot of pressure on you and they tell you you can’t go home until the case is finished, than naturally you are going to lose your patients.”

And when abuse helps solve a crime, police adopt an “ends justify the means” mentality. Another officer explained to Westley, “There is a case I remember of four Negroes who held up a filling station. We got a description of them and picked them up. Then we took them down to the station and really worked them over. I guess that everybody that came into the station that night had a hand in it, and they were in pretty bad shape. Do you think that sounds cruel? Well, you know what we got out of it? We broke a case in ------. There was a mob of twenty guys, burglars and stick-up men, and eighteen of them are in the pen now. Sometimes you have to get rough with them, see. The way I figure it is, if you can get a clue that a man is a pro and if he won’t cooperate, tell you what you want to know, it is justified to rough him up a little, up to a point. You know how it is. You feel that the end justifies the means.”

There is also a feeling that the courts often let the guilty go free or off with a lenient sentence. As one rookie policeman told Westley, “One of the older men advised me that if the courts didn’t punish a man we should.”

A most revealing bit of data from this study is the question the police answered about when the use of force was legitimate. The wording of the question was, “When do you think a policemen is justified in roughing a man up?” There responses were:
37% Disrespect for police
23% When impossible to avoid
19% To obtain information
8% To make an arrest
7% For the hardened criminal
3% When you know the man is guilty
3% For sex criminals

Other than “when impossible to avoid” and “to make an arrest” the other categories are not legally justified reasons to “rough someone up.”

The number one justification, a justification over a third of the police legitimized had nothing to do with criminal behavior. After reading the eyewitness reports of Michael Brown’s killing, that might was been what set off officer Darren Wilson. Apparently, Mr. Brown was pulling away from Wilson’s grasp. When he got free, he turned his back on Wilson and walked away. That is when Wilson got out of his patrol car and shot at Brown.

Officer Wilson didn’t follow the advice of one policeman in Westley’s study about how to rough up people who show disrespect, “If there is any slight resistance, you can go all out on him. You shouldn’t do it in the street though. Wait until you are in the squad car.”

The Michael Brown killing is just one of many police killings and beatings of black citizens that have been highlighted in recent weeks. One Ferguson officer was caught on video calling the black protestors “F-ing animals.” But police prejudice is not new. Here are comments from three different policemen in Westley’s study.

“The colored people understand one thing. The policeman is the law, and he is going to treat you rough and that’s the way you have to treat them. Personally, I don’t think the colored are trying to help themselves one bit. If you don’t treat them rough, they will sit right on top of your head.”

“You can’t ask them a question and get an answer that is not a lie. In the South Side the only way to walk into a tavern is to walk in swaggering as if you own the place and if somebody is standing in your way give him an elbow and push him aside.”

“In the good districts you appeal to people’s judgement and explain the law to them. In the South Side the only way is to appear like you are the boss.”

Westley concludes that these attitudes and behaviors exist in part because of the unique nature of the police officers’ job requirements. As a low paying and low status job, this is one way to “improve their social status” both in a psychological sense and for career advancement. The get tough attitude commands some degree of deference from a public fearful of being roughed up. And as noted above, promotions and status within the occupation are based largely on arrests.

For more up to date examples, read Matt Taibbi’s “The Divide: American Injustice in the
Age of the Wealth Gap.”


No. Injecting “politics” into Ferguson debate is not helpful.


Racists truly hate talking about race because they know they can’t do it without getting in trouble, without offending someone. They become extremely uncomfortable when others discuss race because they know their beliefs will not be well received and they’re afraid of being labeled a racist. Instead, they’d prefer to talk about race by talking about takers and welfare recipients. They’re still talking about race but now it’s more comfortable.


Seems to me that when a white cop injected six bullets into an unarmed young black man who had his arms up it immediately became racial. But he was talking to Breitbart and they no doubt were understanding and made him some chamomile tea to soothe his upset.


Is he friggin kidding??!! Here it is, right in his face and he has his F’n eyes closed.


…says a leader of the Party of Disenfranchisement.


Odd. As i was getting out the shower this morning, my first random thought was, I hope someone’s thought to set up a voter registration table at these protests.


Republicans don’t get it.

It is okay to talk about race.
It is not okay to say/do racist things.

They are not the same, although, if the only conversations you’ve ever had about race are in a racist context, then I see where the confusion comes in.


Told Brietbart what? News? Seriously?


Nothing we haven’t heard before. Just like how injecting race into discussions of the American Civil War “is not helpful” and obfuscates the truth about our struggles over the abstract concept of federal preemption.


Ohh that’s why I’ve seen all those Republicans protesting in the streets!


I always just send asshats who do that a link to the Cornerstone Speech and walk away. It’s all they deserve anymore.


How dare those people attempt to help others to exercise a constitutional right that we are working so hard to deny. Which could be referring to voting, speech, assembly. It’s not injecting something which is already there. Facts exist, they aren’t injected. As a theologian/historian friend points out, the effort from day one was and will continue to be to obscure the facts and change the narrative.


Look a here I need yall to quiet down for a moment while I whitesplain this Ferguson thing to ya.