This is the first time I have read an article of yours and felt it was actually bad. While you seem to want to take a nuanced viewpoint of racism and white supremacy among police, what you are actually doing is saying that police suck.

They don’t.

If you are unarmed and don’t fight with police, regardless of your race, you may get bad treatment but you will NOT be shot. If you attack police officers, shoot them, try to steal their weapon, flee the scene, you will probably get shot, regardless of race. And that’s 100% on you.

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The tale of Michael Brown and Ferguson, MO is mentioned in passing. The true story has nothing to do with Ferguson’s revenue needs and a lot to do with Michael Brown’s (mis)conduct.

MB was walking down the center of a street when first approached by Darren Wilson (the police officer). He attacked DW and tried to grab his gun. He then charged DW and ended up dead as a consequence. It turns out the MB robbed a store shortly before his confrontation with DW.

The encounter between MB and DW has been subject to numerous investigations. All of them have concluded that MB was entirely guilty and DW was entirely innocent.

The first investigation was by the Grand Jury in MO. Of course, it concluded that DW had committed no crime The second investigation was by the Obama administration. Of course, this was actual Eric Holder’s Justice Department. You can find the report online at “Justice Department Announces Findings of Two Civil Rights Investigations in Ferguson, Missouri” (https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-findings-two-civil-rights-investigations-ferguson-missouri)

From “Shooting of Michael Brown” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Michael_Brown#DOJ_investigation_into_the_Ferguson_Police_Department)

““On March 4, 2015, the federal investigation cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting. The investigation concluded there was no evidence upon which prosecutors could rely to disprove Wilson's asserted belief that he feared for his safety, that witnesses who contradicted Wilson were not credible, that forensic evidence and credible witnesses corroborated Wilson's account, and that the facts did not support the filing of criminal charges against Wilson.[13][50][51] Credible witnesses did not support accounts that Brown had his hands up in surrender. He was not shot in the back. Forensic evidence showed he was moving toward Wilson. Numerous witnesses were found to have given accounts of actions they were unable to see from their vantage points, or to be recounting others' accounts.[13][50][51]””

So what did Obama do about this? He baldly lied and got away with it. Here is a quote from Obama

“The finding that was made [by the Department of Justice] was that it was not unreasonable to determine that there was not sufficient evidence to charge Officer [Darren] Wilson. That was an objective, thorough, independent federal investigation”

That’s not true either. Obama could have told the truth, that Wilson was innocent and Brown was guilty, but choose not to.

Why did Obama lie about Ferguson? Because he could. Had Obama thought there was any chance that MSNBC/CNN/CBS/the NYT would call him a ‘liar’ he would have shown more caution. However, he knew that MSNBC/CNN/CBS/the NYT would cover for him and protect him and he was right.

He could have said “I had the Department of Justice investigate this case and we found that the Wilson was innocent’. But of course, he didn’t. Instead he relied on Al Sharpton as one of his principal advisers.

Of course, the lying never stops. Kamala Harris is still talking about the ‘murder’ of MB. See “Harris, Warren Wrong About Brown Shooting” (https://www.factcheck.org/2019/08/harris-warren-wrong-about-brown-shooting/)

The original DA who didn’t indict Darren Wilson, lost his bid for reelection. His opponent promised to ‘right the historic wrong’ by finally indicting Darren Wilson (the police officer). The new DA then managed to reach the same conclusion as every other party that has investigated the case (Michael Brown was a dangerous violent criminal and Darren Wilson acted properly). No indictment was forthcoming. Now the ‘activists’ are rather predictably attacking the new DA.

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While I do have a healthy respect for the police as an old man, when I was young I had my share of run-ins with them. I was arrested 4 times. Once for B&E, once for loitering, once for underage drinking & once for something I don't remember, most likely drinking.

The police never beat my ass but they were pretty much dicks, although I don't hold that against them.

But I do remember one night when 2 friends and I were sitting in a park smoking a joint. About 150 yards away 4-5 guys that we knew were sharing a case of beer & listening to music. A cop car entered the park and rolled right up on them. They scattered. Except the guy with the radio, and I'm talking big boom box, carry on your shoulder radio, made the mistake of just sneaking through the bushes with his radio and nonchalantly hopping up on a park bench like nothing had happened.

Instead the cop car rolled up on him. A big burly copper got out of his cruiser, billy club in hand, and smashed the kid in the face with it. He then grabbed the kid by his fluffy white boy afro, pulled him to the ground & started beating and kicking him. I can still almost still hear the kid's shrieks. At one point, his partner bear hugged him & tried to pull him off the kid but he shrugged off his partner & continued the ass kicking. He then scooped the kid up & tossed him in the back of the cruiser, got in & then rolled up on us. He said, "Do you motherfuckers need an engraved fucking invitation to get the fuck out of my park?"

All 3 of us stood there just staring at him and I know we were all thinking, 'Just take the badge & gun off & we'll show you whose park this is bitch." But of course he didn't. So we just dispersed.

My loitering arrest came about because we were typical inner city teens hanging on a street corner. The cops wanted us to disperse. I said 'No, I'm not bothering anybody." Cuffs & paddy wagon quickly followed that dumb statement. But there was also a young girl about 15, we were 19 or so, who followed us around like a puppy dog. She stayed with me & they grabbed her also. She immediately started bawling. Bawled all the way the station. Bawled the entire time she was in the station. At one point I said to the cop, "Y'know cop I understand you arresting me but why didn't you leave her alone?" He came over the desk at me. His partner grabbed him & pulled him back before he could hit me. Again, I thought the same thing, "Copper take the cuffs, badge & gun off & let's step outside. I ain't afraid of you." Luckily I only thought it.

The B&E arrest is probably most relevant. I won't detail the crime but I will say it was amazingly stupid. I was 15 & drunk, so there's that. Anyway, I was sitting in a holding cell, waiting for my older brother to show up & spring me when a bunch of cops carried in this burly black pimp. I say "pimp" because he had the gaudy super wide bell bottomed suit on with the platform shoes, although one shoe was missing, as was the pimp hat. I don't think he minded much since he was out cold. His face looked like bloody hamburger & his shirt was soaked with blood from his chin to his navel. The cops carried him into an empty holding cell & dumped him on the bench. No ER for you ya mofo. As one cop walked by the holding cell next to me the guy inside said, "What happened to him?" The cop said, "He slipped & fell." I heard the guy mutter, "Yeah he slipped & fell right on your fists."

Having said all of that I still think their job is incredibly difficult. We hire them as society's garbage men so they can keep the peace while we watch Ru Paul's Drag Race or some endlessly pointless sporting event or jerk off to internet porn. When they fuck up, and fucking up is literally an inevitability in their job, critics descend on them with their fangs out. In most cases the critics don't have the balls to last one day in that job.

I remember CNN during the Floyd riots. During the day the reporters were diligently criticizing as they collected anecdotal evidence of the horror called policemen. But at night, when the violence started, they hugged that Maginot Line of cops like the terrified bunnies that they were.

One thing I've noticed about liberals is that they love to criticize from a nice safe distance. They love to ramble on about their high minded moral principles from the comfort of their couch while not once offering to put their candy asses on the line.

On the other hand, the people that blindly defend cops are equally full of shit. My wife's brother is a 30 year veteran. A few weeks ago we discussed this same issue. I tried to use the "few bad apples" argument. He was having none of it. He said that it's more than a few bad apples. In some case all they hire are bad apples because they're the only ones willing to do the job. Wow, imagine that? No one wants to put their life on the line for shit pay & constant criticism.

In conclusion, in my opinion, the people who expect saintlike tolerance from cops are as equally full of shit as the people who try to paint them as saints. The issues are way more complex & I think Matt did a fair job in trying to highlight that.

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"The fact that problem officers like this almost never get seriously disciplined stinks of institutional malevolence."

This is true in education as well. Public school teachers often interact with their students in prejudiced ways that stink of laziness and stupidity, more than racism, even if their behavior might be construed as such. There is institutional malevolence everywhere, sadly. I was a teacher for ten years in charter, public, and private environments. My student teaching was in DC. All of my students then were black and poor. I am white, male, and relatively well-off by comparison.

When I first walked into that classroom, I could feel their hate and resentment, practically seething over my race and possibly my gender (but mostly my race) - when people have a racist response to you, you can feel it immediately; it is quite overwhelming. I had more experience interacting with people not of my race than they did, but I also walked into the room with a very guarded attitude, if not demonstrable hate.

Quickly, I realized that a confrontational attitude was a mode of communication, not nearly as aggressive as it appeared. Middle to upper-middle class people don't talk to each other that way and so, at first, I took internal offense. But once I saw through it, I started to be more confrontational and ironically was then able to express my care and concern in a way I could not have done without that mode.

These kids went from belligerent to pretty damn awesome. Not all of them were angels, but all of them had a personality that was strikingly different from the one they initially had presented. As did I. Their true intelligence came out. They eagerly asked questions and for help. Some of the young men started coming in early to ask me how they might make their lives better. It was an eye-opening experience.

Perhaps teacher and police training should involve organized meetings with the communities they intend to serve before they become licensed? That doesn't fix everything, and, sure, I still had behavioral issues that were extreme and deleterious to a productive classroom. I continued to make mistakes, as did they. But we pushed through it. These kids needed a lot of help, encouragement, knowledge, skills, etc., and there were some days that were great.

There is no simple answer except to say that people - Americans - of all colors, backgrounds, classes (whatever the differentiating factor) need to stop giving in so quickly to their knee-jerk prejudices.

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I'm a retired librarian, and I would add that, whatever the police department's daycare tasks are, public libraries are the default daycare centers in most communities, as well as being the default homeless shelters. Both functions are outside the mission of the library, and both result from the same reason Matt exposes in this post, namely, politicians' unwillingness to fund proper social services in their communities.

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"The fact that problem officers like this almost never get seriously disciplined stinks of institutional malevolence."

Try cop union contracts with the municipal govt for a start. Add to that the absurd doctrine of qualified immunity that has now reached truly Kafka-esque application. Throw in state legislatures that have passed peace officer bills of rights.

No one should be shocked when any person is given power and absolved of accountability - a priori - in the use of that power. You simply can't write a more concise formula for producing abuse.

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My stepfather was a paramedic for 25 years. Because police would routinely respond to calls with medics, over his career he had several hundred, if not thousands, of instances where he was a 3rd party observer of interactions between law enforcement and civilians.

I asked him the other day what he estimated the percentage of cops to be who, while technically not breaking the law, would routinely do everything possible to escalate interactions with citizens to try and trigger bad behavior (and mistakes) on the side of the citizen. The cops that jump at the opportunity to 'flex' so to speak and become extremely aggressive at any perceived slight. The ones that maybe shouldn't be in that line of work. Keep in mind that my stepfather has a black sticker with a thin blue line on the back of his truck.

Needless to say I was very surprised to hear him say 60%+ fell into that category. 3 out of 5. A guy that has multiple blue lives matter t-shirts and is very, very, pro-cop, admitted that over half of the police he interacted with during his 25 year career probably shouldn't be on the force. To be clear, this is not a commentary on those that resist arrest. Rather, I found it illuminating that someone who 'backs the blue' admit that, anecdotally, more often than not he saw police treat the public like shit.

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This is the rub with Matt’s work. One day he is a genius and the next a bumbler. While I’m sure Gladwell has a brilliant point to make to people with the depth of an ice cube, most of TK readers have hopefully fully thought out these issues and understand when it’s obvious an officer is wrong or worse a criminal and when simply complying would save the life of a scumbag. Why do I feel Matt thinks we need to be spoon fed by overhyped authors in order to better illustrate his leftest credentials. Eric Garner and Michael Brown are not in anyway similar cases. Garner was killed for no reason other then being a large man that rightly didn’t want to be pushed around for selling a fucking cigarette. Brown robbed a store, pushed the Asian owner over a rack of food and tried to take a cops weapon. Conflating the two is mind boggling. In fact Brown is a big part of the hands up don’t shoot bullshit that plagues us today.

There are many cases that illustrate where bad cops deserve to be put away. Floyd and Garner are two good ones. But acting as if this article is in any way novel or light shedding is why Matt is not getting any more $ from me. I can’t get the time I wasted reading the article back so I will continue to support better writers on Substack like Greenwald and Weiss who do t treat me like a moron every other article.

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The single most overlooked factor in police abuse is that blacks are on track to kill 10,000 other blacks this year.

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'Gladwell makes it capital-E Easy for the medicine of thought to go down, a talent I once grumbled at, almost surely out of jealousy. I now see it’s a blessing in the United States, a country where a fair portion of the mass audience is capable of losing at tic-tac-toe.' Christ, what condescension! Learned nothing from the backlash to the old "basket of deplorables" comment, eh, Matt? And that's just what your book Hate Inc. was based on, that media-fed division. Irony klaxon hoot and squawk alert. Didn't anybody ever tell you in journalism school there is far more of a compressive communicative art to writing for a tabloid than there is for a broadsheet? This guy Gladwell sounds like he has it down.

Maybe some of those people are capable at losing at tic-tac-toe, but they can also mend (y)our car when you can't, or bag (y)our groceries, or deliver (y)our food, or give mass Covid jags in extremely dangerous circumstances, or...why go on? I'm not even trying to be fake outraged here. This condescension drives people (who probably aren't reading this) further away from intelligence and the potentially healing truth. Try hanging out with working class people, occasionally, Matt, it might broaden your horizons. Shit, a few weeks ago a guy who was delivering a carpet to my house over his shoulder marvelled over my JG Ballard and William S Burroughs books! You never, ever know who's who.

I have worked with people over the last few years, be they pizza delivery drivers, or security guards, or supermarket workers, or cleaners, or roofers, who may not be literate (which is fast becoming a 20th century conceit anyway) per se, but who are a great laugh, or caring, or exhibit other kinds of intelligence. I confess, this is a lifelong bugbear of mine. One thing I have always hated about the so-called 'literary' crowd - and I can hold my own with any of them, and have been edited and published at top levels - is them supposedly being 'above' 'the common herd' for reading a few books here and there.

In general, these are the kind of sniffy cunts who spout intersectionalist shite and make out they're doing us all a favour with their 'advanced' views, the 'educated' (beyond their intelligence levels) ones. And I would often rather hang out with tic-tac-toe losers than writers, for the most part. Least they don't look down their nose at bookish snobs - their sense of noblesse oblige would not allow them to. ;)

'This book about all the different ways in which strangers misunderstand one another feels like it was written as a way to nudge an increasingly polarized country to consider how things might look from another’s perspective.' Indeed.

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Sigh. Matt: Instead of writing a review of a book written by a non-expert which has no useful policy recommendations and will save zero lives, why not read and review UC Berkeley professor of law and internationally feted criminologist Franklin Zimring's 2017 book "When Police Kill"? It details how by banning police from using lethal force if a suspect does not have a gun, and instead requiring officers to call for backup and form a cordon around the suspect, we could see about a 40% drop in the number of people killed by police every year. A link to a video elaborating on his research can be found below.

Criminologist Lawrence Sherman has also advocated for requiring police officers to apply battlefield-grade hemostatic bandages to suspects they've shot, and for requiring police officers to transport suspects they've shot to the hospital in their patrol cars rather than wasting critical minutes waiting for EMTs. A study of the Philadelphia Police Department, which implemented the latter policy beginning in the 1990s, indicated that this policy could reduce officer-involved-shooting fatalities by about 30%. A link to Sherman's white paper can also be found below.

The most crucial point to realize about U.S. police violence is that about 57% of people killed by U.S. police every year are armed with a gun, and about 97.5% of U.S. police officers killed in the line of duty every year are killed by a gun. Until we get federal comprehensive gun control, the U.S. is not going to experience the low officer-involved-shooting rates and the low rates of homicide in all categories enjoyed in the rest of the high-income world.

One of the things I most lament about contemporary culture is that very few books are read anymore, and the few that are read are mainly flashy mediocrities written by media stars. Academic experts have the answers to so many of our current problems, but they are unsexy and underpublicized, so nobody reads them. And so the limitable suffering continues.



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I think the fundamental point is that nothing as a simple as it is presented in the media, especially in this time of hard core tribal camps. I am not sure how we lost the ability to analyze problems cooperatively and agree on some basic steps to remediate the issue we face. I do know that the drive for revenue driven outrage clicks is not helping the matter. I get the sense that opposing groups are talking past each other instead of seeking to understand the concerns and arguments of the other side. If we don't regain the ability to discuss and reach compromise we will be forever locked in this whipsaw of federal rule where every 4-8 years sides switch and the first order of business is to eliminate what the previous office holder did just because they did it, regardless of effectiveness of the policy.

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I've read some of Matt's published works and generally enjoyed it. I'm not 100% aligned politically but that's ok. But this line is what finally got me to subscribe. "I now see it’s a blessing in the United States, a country where a fair portion of the mass audience is capable of losing at tic-tac-toe."

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Having read all of Malcolm Gladwells books and all of yours Matt including "I can't breathe" combined with my life experiences in Canada, the USA and the Bahamas I don't expect much change in the future. The "underclass" and the criminal classes are just too big in many western societies. The police are there to protect the ruling classes from us, the working classes and they do a credible job. They are secondarily there to protect the working classes from the underclass and the criminal classes and that's not much fun, crappy hours, crappy pay and the chance to deal with what most of us "middle classes", actually lower working classes. Like surgery and the abbitoir; we really don't want to see what's being done, just look after it officer. Our brutal capitalism system will always have the underclass and the ruling rentier classes like it the way it is and we seem to have bought into it. Hell, the USA still doesn't have universal public health care or paid maternity leave, quite brutal if you've ever lived in any other western countries. The Hood and The Holler are way too big to fix. The system is basically " inverted totalitarianism" and it works well for the 1% and the 10% officer classes; for the rest of us who produce the wealth and perform most useful services of all races "actually a social concept, we are all Homo sapiens"and ethnicities we depend on the cop's to keep a lid on it. Notice how the "defund the Police" politicians sure want their security on your nickel... hypocrisy... you bet.

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Gladwell has been captured by the Woke so I view his books post 2016 with deep skepticism unfortunately.

That said, Im open to evidence of “Broken Windows” being inherently ineffective. Incomplete picture here. Go to LA, Chicago, NYC now and compare it to 2015 when these cities were cleaner and had historically low quality of life crimes being committed. Something was working. Cities are a mess now.

So perhaps Broken Windows policing can be adjusted in some way. The answer can’t just be to let every minor low level crime go unanswered. Maybe there will emerge a different approach.

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You make some really good points, Matt. I totally agree about the patrol cars looking for people to harass. That's the real problem. It's frustrating to see the tremendous level of energy over George Floyd's death being squandered over "Defund the Police". Such a huge opportunity missed. It makes me wonder who injected "defund the police" into the conversation in the first place. Was it meant to prevent any real change from happening? I often thought that it would have been better to focus on qualified immunity for Police officers. At least that's a concrete policy argument that could make a difference. I live in Portland, OR and we have Black Lives Matter signs everywhere, but what has changed? I think people mean well, but it's just a bunch of platitudes at this point. We have strangers coming into our neighborhood weekly with their megaphones yelling at people walking by and asking for money. The movement has become more of a money-making machine for scam artists than anything else. It's really sad.

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