Two more horrific shootings of black men by police this week, in Tulsa and Charlotte. It seems that this will never end — perhaps because it’s never stopped. Most likely we are simply more aware of racist police violence because of social media, and the instant ubiquity of news; back in the day, we’d only know what was happening across the country if some national outlet happened to pick up the story.
But we’ve got problems here. The MA Supreme Judicial Court even made a pro-4th Amendment ruling that is at once justified, and stunning in its conclusions: That under the circumstances, black people actually have good reason to fear the police, and that flight is not [by itself - edit] adequate cause for suspicion:
We do not eliminate flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion analysis whenever a black male is the subject of an investigatory stop. However, in such circumstances, flight is not necessarily probative of a suspect’s state of mind or consciousness of guilt. Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for FIO [Field Interrogation and Observation] encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt. Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity. Given this reality for black males in the city of Boston, a judge should, in appropriate cases, consider the report’s findings in weighing flight as a factor in the reasonable suspicion calculus.
This situation of mistrust has been not helped in the least by the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association’s stonewalling on police cameras. The patrolmen agreed to a voluntary body camera program; then somehow no one volunteered to wear one. When the commissioner then ordered some of them to wear the cameras, they took it to court: You can’t make us – it’s voluntary! This does not sound like good faith negotiation.
And in Walpole … does this sound familiar?
Jean-Paul Wahnon has never run afoul of the law. So when a Walpole police officer rifled through his Toyota Prius on an August afternoon and repeatedly asked whether the car was his and whether he had a gun in his possession, Wahnon was concerned.