Friday, July 27, 2018 at 7:57 PM

Combating the Public Health Risk Police Pose to Black Men

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

If you’re a black man, you are three times more likely to be killed by police than a white man, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health. …

There’s not a single place in the U.S. where the risk of a black man getting killed by police is less than double that of a white man.

(USA Today, July 27, 2018)

Disparate treatment based on race accounts for much of this discrepancy.

But it saves no black lives to merely protest “Black Lives Matter” every time a police kills a black man. And it’s self-evident that no amount of training is going to rid white cops of their racist fears, which cause them to perceive even a 12-year-old black boy playing with a toy gun as a mortal threat.

Instead, we should encourage black men to do only what will increase the likelihood of surviving their encounters with the police.

Alas, I have felt like the proverbial John the Baptist preaching this message. Here, for example, is how pleaded for black men to help save their own lives in “Killing of Michael Brown: as much about Resisting Arrest as Police Brutality (only against Black Men?),” August 12, 2014.


Not every fatal shooting by the police of an unarmed man is a case of police brutality. We’ve all seen far too many incidents of people resisting arrest – even wresting away a policeman’s gun and killing him – just because they fear being questioned or arrested … even for something as simple as petty theft.

Indeed, you’d be hard-pressed to cite a case that resulted in fatality, where the victim followed the few general rules we should all follow when dealing with the police. Those rules are:

  1. Do not run.
  2. Follow instructions calmly (i.e., no sudden moves that might spook a nervous or trigger-happy policeman).
  3. Wait for the police to explain why you’re being stopped before politely posing any objections, concerns, or questions you may have.
  4. If instructed to turn around to be frisked or handcuffed, comply without uttering a word.
  5. Save any disagreements or arguments you may have for the courtroom or your civilian complaints review board, which is the only time and place to resist arrest.

This is why, even though the cops who beat the crap out of Rodney King deserved to be prosecuted, (most of) that beating would have been avoided if King were not drugged out of his mind and, therefore, unable to follow simple police instructions. …

There has been a direct correlation between police officers either wearing video cameras or videotaping every stop on dash cam and a dramatic decline not only in complaints by civilians, but also in use of force by the police. Frankly, it seems a no-brainer that every police department should make wearing body cameras as standard as wearing bulletproof vests. …

Not to mention that there would be fewer of these fatal encounters between black men and white cops if more (unemployed) black men became cops to police their own communities.


Mind you, I can personally attest that there’s not a single place in the United States where a black man is safe from racial profiling by the police. Unfortunately, far too many black men have been acculturated to either run or resist arrest — pursuant to some misguided (black) badge of courage.

But I maintain that, when a police is placing you under arrest (no matter how unwarranted you might think that is), it should not take him (and others) wrestling you to the ground to get you into handcuffs.

I’m on record conceding that obeying commands will not guarantee survival in every encounter. The viral video of the killing of Philando Castile demonstrated this … in black and white. But this is the exception, not the rule.

In other words, it’s plainly foolhardy to resist arrest because obeying commands only offers a 99 percent chance of survival.

Related commentaries:
Michael Brown/body cameras
Police killing black men

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