Rape Controversy Clarifies a Simple Rule of Law and Order: No Snitching Means No Justice

Categories: Schutze

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Police have arrested somebody they hope will turn out to be perpetrator of nine or more serial rapes in the area around Fair Park in South Dallas. Those rapes have sparked an important conversation about law enforcement in the city. Let's get down to brass tacks.
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Library of Congress
An early demonstration of an amazing new social justice device called "the telephone."

The community in the area where the rapes occurred has expressed outrage that it took Dallas cops three months to alert the public to the activities of a serial rapist in a poor black neighborhood. The comparison is with Lake Highlands, an affluent mainly white area where a serial rapist was arrested last April: The Lake Highlands rapes went public after the first victim was attacked.

Dallas Police Chief David Brown, stung by criticism that his department didn't take rape seriously in South Dallas, pointed out that his own mother lives in the rape area: "I'm a Dallasite, born and raised in the southern part of Dallas, and my mother lives in the neighborhood where these sexual assaults occurred," Brown told Channel 11 CBS News. "I take it very seriously."

It's tough to ignore that one.

Another line that pops up in a lot of the coverage of the Fair Park rapes is that the victims of the rapes have taken a long time to talk to police. Their reticence has been attributed to trauma.

These are all reasons why we should not let this matter slip away before we drill down and get some answers. The contrast with Lake Highlands seems stark, but several possible factors may help explain it. Let's figure it out.

The first factor is racism -- the stubborn paradigm by which white crime is serious and black crime not. There is not a single major institution in Dallas -- from the police to the media to hospitals to the banks to the church community -- that has not been there at some point in the past. Some may still be more racist than they know or admit to themselves.

Another possible explanation is a historically oppositional relationship between the neighborhood and the police department. How real a thing is that? Look, community activist Thabiti Olatunji, who died a year ago, spent a decade working to get the police department to enforce the law in North Park, a black neighborhood near Love Field. He succeeded in large part because he was able to forge a personal relationship with former police Chief David Kunkle.

See also: Remembering Thabiti Olatunji, Fighter for Hope and Law in a Crime-Ridden Neighborhood

On the one hand, it's absurd to suppose that our current chief is neglecting South Dallas because he's a racist. But it's not absurd to suppose that Dallas police officers of all ethnicities may not perceive the area around Fair Park as police-friendly. That makes a difference. Big difference.

We see this same drama played out again and again in minority neighborhoods. When residents of the Dixon Circle area in southern Dallas took to the streets a year ago in protest of a fatal police shooting, it was easy to conclude from TV footage that Dixon Circle was a place where everybody hates the cops. But a closer look found many law-abiding residents begging for protection from criminals.

That's the kind of sorting out that must be done, and, as in North Park, it takes work and time. The law-abiding people in the neighborhood are really the ones who have to start the process. They have to organize. They have to meet with the police. Some of that already seems to be under way in the area of the recent rapes.

But there's a harder part, and this is the most difficult challenge that Olatunji had to confront in North Park. Community policing is a two-way street. The good people in the neighborhood have to name names -- rat out, snitch on, call the cops on the bad people. The good people have to figure out that every time they snitch it's like presenting a bill to the police department: "Here it is. We told you. Now pay us back by doing something about it."

The cops have obligations in this relationship, too. They have to know who the good people are and then deal with them in a trust relationship. The good people won't call the cops if the cops are going to ride in roughshod and treat everybody in sight, good, bad or ugly, like a criminal.

In real life, the roughshod mistakes don't happen so much anymore in poor minority neighborhoods because the cops are a bunch of white racists. Certainly that was the story 25 years ago. But today the more common reality is that a diverse police force under an African-American chief makes mistakes in poor neighborhoods because of unfamiliarity with the individuals in those neighborhoods.

You can talk all day and all night about how it's up to the cops to go out and meet the community and make themselves friendly with everybody, and it's all bullshit. Most of time most cops' jobs are like boxing: When that starting bell rings they start punching out calls and try to keep going until the end of the 10th round.

The other thing for us to recognize is that police departments are heat-seeking. They know which areas can make trouble for them with the City Council or the media. They know which ones don't make heat for them. They go where the heat is first.

The political reality is that it is up to the good people in a neighborhood to do the reaching out. They must demand, in fact, that the police come in and enforce the law. Then they must pay for that enforcement by snitching. They have to show the cops they intend to cooperate with them. They have to do it the hard way, by informing on bad guys.

The white people in Lake Highlands snitch. So do the black people and the Latino people in Lake Highlands. Snitch, snitch, snitch -- snitch all day long, snitch all night. That's how you get police protection. You organize. You demand it. You snitch. Simple.



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45 comments
roo_ster
roo_ster

Lots to agree with in JS's piece.  As with most successful enterprises, it takes teamwork...and most of that team work is impromptu and undocumented.

One thing that has not been mentioned is the ease or difficulty of pattern-detecting.  When a man is murdered in one of the Park cities, IT WAS TRUMPETED ACROSS THE LOCAL MEDIA.  Because it was such a rare event.  

How many rapes per year per resident are there in the Lake Highlands area?  Is that rate higher or lower than down by Fair Park?  I think we know the answer.  So, even if DPD were 100% bias-free, it would take more serial/similar rapes to stand out from the background noise near Fair Park.

Crime patterns may be detected earlier and fewer people become victims if local residents and DPD were on better terms, as JS suggests.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The only racial injustice in South Dallas is by DART.

When DART slips through North Dallas their light rail oozes a slight whistle to let the well coifed know that they are about.  The engineer issues a limp beauty queen wave as she slides quietly by.

South of I-30 it's Pelham 123.  The mad conductor leans on a Godawful klaxon air horn whilst shooting the finger through the interchange at breakneck speed.  Man that thing's loud!

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

I suspect the fact that these were rapes of women walking alone between 12-6am might be another factor you failed to consider.  Were some of these working girls?  It's not necessarily right, but I suspect police handle rape complaints from working girls differently than others.  I DO think the police were too slow to bring this to the news. 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Running Goddamned gunbattle down 175 yesterday and the POlice had the whole freeway shut down.  100 Goddamn degrees, my AC was out, and I was just trying to make it back to Fair Park unmolested.  I live on the edge of that fine city-owned tract.  

So me and 40,000 of my best friends had to navigate up Prairie Creek then west on Scyene, and my radiator hit 240.  Do you know what that means, all you buttoned up pilots of urban transportation pods?  Had to pull over.  Find some shaaaade.  Bullshit a little with the new neighbors.  Just one big happy family down here.  Somebody’s always shoutin’ in the distance. 

This is my town.  Gotta rapist?  Just SHOOT the motherfucker!  Jesus!  Doesn’t take a committee!  

Somebody call Shaft. 

He knows how to administer some of that . . . social justice. 

Thank God I don’t live in North Dallas and have to listen to the shit you people talk about.  Why don’t you just commit suicide.  Get it over with.  Because it looks painful.

pak152
pak152

snitch carries such a negative connotation, couldn't you find a better word?

but much of what you describe is not restricted to Dallas. In Richmond Va the chief of police went into one neighborhood where crime was rampant and basically told the citizens there that they had to report the crimes and who was committing the crimes. And that police chief was African-American too. or look at the hip-hop recording industry where "snitches" are looked down upon as being lower than politicians or lawyers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_Snitchin%27


http://www.spotcrime.com/tx/dallas

wonder how stop, question and frisk would work in high crime areas?

Dallas Observer
Dallas Observer

Hey Chelsea, we can't see any typos. Can you point out to us what you can see? Friday afternoon is affecting us.

dfwmakeupartistry
dfwmakeupartistry

"Oh, it's not that we don't like your neighborhood, it's that your neighborhood doesn't really like us." Ok, that might not be racist but it's childish and completely off point. Really Dallas Observer? Stick to making Top 10 who gives a fuck lists.


\

xdarkridex
xdarkridex

I rarely agree with you, Schutze, but you're spot-on with this one.  Cops shoot a clearly bad guy in a neighborhood, and the citizens respond by crying out that this long-time criminal is dead.  That's just not gonna get you on the 911 hot list of quick responses.  Why?  Human nature.  You just declared your neighborhood hostile territory.  You just said you do not WANT the police to come into your neighborhood and enforce the law.  

If the neighborhood wants enforcement, Schutze is right here: you have to put your actions where your words are.  Call the cops, hold their feet to the fire when they don't show up, name names when they do.

Chelsea Perry
Chelsea Perry

I hate to say this but there are a ton of typos in this article which makes it hard to follow. And in a society that prides itself on not snitching, I think coming out and saying it like that isn't going to encourage anyone to start doing that very thing.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Racism?  so we hate ourselves, I thought there was only one race, the Human Race.  fuck me

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

To be fair, although its not a rape, the "uptown attacks" after 14 in 10 days took a little while and then during these rape attacks there was a big lapse time, almost a full month. And during the first two, they were giving different information, neither even had a matching description of the car and one of the first victims refused to cooperate with police...even to the point, that one witness did not come out until after the news report.

Im not saying its right, but instead of Dwaine Carraway yelling about "race" he should be helping to empower people in these poorer Dallas neighborhoods he "cares" about so much.

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

It's Peelian Principles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles


I give the police a lot of shit about forgetting them, but it's a two way street.  A lot of what DPD in particular has done in the last few years (focus on property crime, doing away with traffic enforcement for revenue shenanigans) have been exactly in line with the principles, and crime has dropped faster because of it.

What we can't forget, though, is that it is a two way street.  Peel's underlying theme was that the police are simply doing what we all have the right and duty to do -- but they are paid to do it full time.  That means that they shouldn't get special privileges (and that is a lot of my criticism), but that "leave it to the police" is just as damaging.les in action.

Americano
Americano

Why do Liberals always lead with racism?  It is not the cause of everything. 

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@pak152 Stop and frisk just pisses off the law-abiding citizens who get stopped and frisked for the color of their skin or their age and gender or how they're dressed, or because some cop doesn't like their looks. Such people are not disposed to snitch. They are not disposed to have any contact with the cops under any circumstances. Their are other ways to police a neighborhood. They take time and effort. They require both sides to think past stereotypes. But they work.      

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

The word, snitch and the concept of snitching are only hard to swallow if you think like a crook.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@xdarkridex people want help, not gun crazy gangs of cops, or thugs.  Nor do the people of Syria want us the reign bombs on them to liberate them.

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@Chelsea Perry Gee, I didn't see any typos, either. Maybe somebody cleaned them up.

As for the word "snitch," if the word bothers you so much then perhaps you need to re-examine your attitude toward the reality it represents -- which is not enabling and abetting  bad stuff by sealing your lips. 

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Americano 

Racism has deformed and corrupted the rule of law since the founding of the Republic. It has always been the single biggest factor in the nation's domestic woes. Why do some people scream every time racism is even mentioned? You do know what that scream sounds like, right?  The shoe pinches.  

manpanties
manpanties

@Americano you can conflate by using the word everything, or you can stay on the topic.  mistrust of the cops by minorities did start with racism and that will unfortunately take many generations to change.  

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@Americano In case you missed what Jim was doing here, he led with racism to downplay its importance in this particular situation.  He was basically saying "The easy answer is racism, but....".

To answer your question, the race pimps lead with racism on everything because it accomplishes their main two goals:  It squelches conversation that might actually solve the issue at hand (for they don't actually want the problems solved, just acknowledged), and it often leads to rapid and substantial settlements.

In this case, Jim is going for actually solving the problem at hand.  Is racism playing a role in this situation? Probably.  Historically, definitely.  Will a big hysterical display of finger pointing and hurling racism accusations do anything to solve the problem? No.  "The easy answer is racism, but....."

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@JimSX I disagree.  Racism was used to divide poor blacks from poor whites.  Poor whites were allowed to think, my life sucks, but at least I ain't Black.  This whole country's history can indeed be seen in that light, and persists today, though it's morphed since the 60's-70's

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@JimSX On the other hand, Jim, somebody has to take the conversation beyond racism. You've done a good job in this and other pieces. I take it you see that just shouting "racist!" and "not a racist!" at each other is not going to solve our problems -- not even the problem of racism.

Americano
Americano

@JimSX  

People like you keep "racism" alive Jim, because it furthers their political goals.  Most of us are over it already.  At my last family BBQ there were more black people there than white.  We are all family.  There are individual racists in America, and always will be.  Al Sharpton is one.  Institutional racism is dead here, the only people struggling to keep it alive are Liberals.

Americano
Americano

@manpanties

It's been many generations already and the US is one of the least racist countries on the planet.  I used the word everything, because it's true.

observist
observist topcommenter

@RTGolden1@Americano For every false claim of racism there's a false denial of racism.  For every John Wiley Price calling racism anytime anyone or anything interferes with his self-dealing, there's some white guy saying, in essence, "I'm not a racist, but why are black people so lazy, stupid, and violent?"  And both see the other as justification for their own attitude. 

baduserexperience
baduserexperience

@gritsforbreakfast1

Thank you for your perspective on snitching. Most of us don't have friends who are lifelong criminals so we haven't given the subject much thought. In fact, most of us would seek to disassociate from such a person, not turn a blind eye to their actions. The sooner they are out of our lives the better.


Americano
Americano

@mavdog

Good God man, life ain't perfect.  I've been let go of a job in order to hire someone younger and less white.  Part of the housing bubble was caused by people, mostly poor and minority, getting loans they had no business getting, on orders from the Federal Government.  You can whine all you want, that won't change a thing.  Hell, the President is black, and liberal.  Whine to him.  Why isn't he making this a nirvana for minorities and getting back at eeevil whitey?  If you want to walk around yelling "racism" at every white person you see, have at it.  That is a miserable way to live if you ask me.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Americano

apparently you chose dishonest...

"black advisers were segregated and excluded from the teams and the benefits and business resources they afforded"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-08-28/bofa-settles-black-brokers-bias-suit-for-160-million.html

"African-American and Latino borrowers were more frequently offered high-interest, sub-prime mortgages than their white counterparts, even when they qualified for better terms"

httphttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/21/bank-of-america-countrywide-settlement_n_1163208.html

"the median weekly wage for African American and Hispanic workers was about 65 percent and 61 percent that of White workers, respectively"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racial_wage_gap_in_the_United_States

clear examples of "institutional" discrimination, yes, racism does exist. to paraphrase twain, it's supposed death is greatly exxagerated by those who seek to marginalize those who work towards its end.

Americano
Americano

@mavdog

There are barriers for everyone, mostly based on class.  Also for race, age, weight or I just don't like the way you look.  Depends on who you are dealing with.  There are not rules for companies that state "we don't hire black people".  These days, it's more likely to be the opposite.  "We have to hire so many minorities, women, ect".  I should have known that after your unknowing surrender, you wouldn't know the meaning of "institutional".

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Americano 

oh my, "name calling" when I correctly point out by your statement "Institutional racism is dead" you are blind to the continued existence of racism. oh my gosh, are your feelings hurt? did you cry? good grief....

for a person to deny there continues to be barriers to black americans, when the data on employment opportunies, on salary attainment, on banking show discrimination, on differing lending practices when blacks seek a loan.....it's either self deception or dishonesty.

you choose.

Americano
Americano

@mavdog

You got me!  You caught the Tater!  We've never met, but have shared a few comments online, and yet you were able to make a psychological diagnosis just like that!  Seriously, I accept your surrender.  Name calling is the first sign that you have nothing relevant to add.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Americano 

right, there are no vestiges of racism in any institutions. and everybody in your world fits neatly into a box.

nope not a bubble, clearly delusional.

Americano
Americano

@mavdog

Institutional racism is dead.  But you knew that, didn't you?  If a liberal wanted to point out a racist, I'm sure they would choose a white man.  I find white and black liberals to be the most racist people I've met.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@Americano 

interesting that when referencing "individual racists in America" all you can come up with is a black man.

actully, the right phrase is revealing rather than interesting.

if you actually believe that racism "is dead", you are living in a really big bubble. or just self delusional.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

@Americano @JimSX For all my disagreements with Jim, he doesn't keep racism alive. It's kept alive by people who profit from it (see: Sharpton, Al) and by older folks whom haven't died off yet.

Not a week ago I wanted to go to Sonic for lunch with a friend. I live in Forest Hills, so the one on Ferguson was obviously the closest. The person I was with insisted we go to the one on Garland Rd. because there are "black people working at that Sonic" to which I responded so fucking what? It's the same damn food no matter what color person touches it.

I thought this was weird so I mentioned it to another friend and she said the same thing. I will never understand this absurd logic.....a person is a person, their skin color is only relevant to making jokes about racial stereotypes.

observist
observist topcommenter

But it hasn't been "many generations".   Maybe 2 since segregation was the law in many places, and only 1 since overt racism has become socially unacceptable.

observist
observist topcommenter

@Americano @manpanties  I agree that the US is one of the least racist countries, mostly because it's one of the few that has multiple races and ethnicities in proportions beyond exotic tokenism.  Much of what we call "racism" is really just "otherism" that is deeply ingrained in humans everywhere.  The things French-speaking and Dutch-speaking Belgians have to say about each other can sound a lot like things White and Black Americans say about each other.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@scottindallas @RTGolden1 @observist @Americano You're absolutely right scott.  There was an important opportunity lost in the Zimmerman trial.  By making the discussion all about race, the media and the prosecution made it impossible to discuss anything else.  My biggest question was the Neighborhood Watch question.  Why was someone in the NW program carrying a firearm.  2nd Amendment notwithstanding, NW is to observe and report.  it is not to engage, follow, detect, investigate or otherwise get involved.  The realities often intrude on this 'observe and report' standing order, but it is my feeling that a neighborhood watch volunteer should not be carrying, licensed or not.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

@RTGolden1 @observist @Americano I thought there were some compelling questions in the Zimmerman/Martin issue; vigilantes, harassment of kids/teens and other points, sadly, all we discussed was the racism angle.

observist
observist topcommenter

@RTGolden1 I didn't mean to imply the false positives and false negatives are exactly equal and opposite, just they they both exist in significant quantities.  Let's say racism was at 100 in 1950.  Now it's at, say, 25, but some people say it's at 50 (or 75, or 100), and others say it's at 0.  i.e. "race pimps" on both sides.  There may be some pockets of population that are truly post-racial, and Americano's family reunion may be one of them, but in my experience, claims of zero-racism necessarily go hand-in-hand with claims of black intransigence and/or inferiority - i.e. racism.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@observist @RTGolden1 @Americano Not really sure where you're going with this.  First of all, you imply that there is some balance to be struck between false racism and false denial of same.  there is no balance, nor is anyone striving to achieve one.  Both are used, like almost every other social issue in this country, to keep the population divided and at each other's throats, oblivious to the machinations of the politicians and their puppeteers.  The balance, such as it is, ebbs and flows opposite of political fortunes.

I don't defend either side of the race argument.  It is, more often than not, used to avoid productive conversation and problem-solving.

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