TW: Non-graphic discussion of Aurora shootingsThe first ingredient for [the Colorado shooting] that seems to have been swept under the rug is that in order to be able to plan out and prepare for such an attack, one must be above suspicion, at least to some degree. James Holmes, the Colorado shooter, was a PhD student who kept to himself and had no previous history of violence or trouble with the law. According to law enforcement, there were no obvious red flags about Holmes beyond the arsenal that he bought online and had delivered to his house.
And that’s precisely the problem; by allowing white people – and white men in particular – the constant benefit of the doubt, law enforcement at large is not only unduly harassing people of color, but allowing dangerous would-be killers to slip through the cracks. Had Holmes had a Muslim name, there is no doubt that federal intelligence agencies and law enforcement would have been immediately alerted to the unusual activity. Take for instance, Najibullah Zazi, a Muslim immigrant and Afghan national also living in Aurora. In 2009, Zazi emailed a contact in Pakistan about a baking recipe for an upcoming marriage. The FBI had discovered that marriage was a code word for terrorist plot, so they tailed, investigated, phone-tapped, and eventually arrested Zazi with zero casualties. Zazi has since admitted to masterminding a foiled terror attack on the New York City subway system.
That was a correct use of intelligence to avert disaster. In New York and New Jersey, it has been discovered that the NYPD was operating well outside of its jurisdiction. The police were infiltrating Muslim mosques, student groups, and community organizations as far away from the city as Rutgers, profiling “suspects” in ways which were not only racist but that appear to have been fruitless. New York City law enforcement is also coming under fire for racial profiling in their “Stop and Frisk” crime prevention initiative. Of the nearly 700,000 New Yorkers who were stopped and frisked, 87% were Black or Hispanic, despite the fact that the majority of New York’s population is white.
Is there any doubt that it’s easier for white people to commit violent crimes?
It seems likely that if Holmes had been a person of color, law enforcement (or at the very least his neighbors) would have paid more attention to the odd behavior and package deliveries that seem sinister in retrospect. Perhaps they would have even heeded the “If you see something, say something” dictum that followed the 9/11 attacks.
This is so much better than whatever Hugo Schwyzer was trying to say.
Actually, when I wrote this article, I was pretty disheartened that the only other person who seemed to be talking about it was Hugo Schwyzer. And everything he writes just smacks so much of, “But I’m SO MUCH BETTER than those other white guys!!!!!!”, no matter the topic.
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