About . . . . Classes . . . . Books . . . . Vita . . . . Blog. . . . Podcast

by Peter Moskos

July 25, 2008

The Eastern District and Iraq

During any given year, a 15- to 34-year-old man in the Eastern District has about the same chance of being killed as a U.S. soldier stationed in Iraq.

That's just wrong.

The Eastern stats are from page 203 of my book. The Iraq stats are taken from DonHodges.com.

I bring this up because of an interesting comment from a good reader of this blog. There are a lot of people out there who are willing to say, "fuck 'em. That's their problem."

As a police officer who's worked the Eastern, I kind of understand this. You try and help. You put your life on the line day in and day out. And nothing ever changes. Plus, for your efforts, you'll get called a racist.

Once I half-jokingly accused my partner of simply not liking black people, he responded passionately, “I got nothing against black people. I just don’t like these black people" (that's in chapter 3 of my book, by the way).

On the Leonard Lopate Show the other day, the host asked me, was it not true that most people I policed were "decent, hard working people." I could not take the easy (and politically correct) path and just say "yes."

Here's what I said:
"I don't want to be too insulting, but I do have a tough time, having policed the area, calling the people I dealt with decent people, by and large. We didn't get along well."

["But they saw you as the enemy almost immediately. Didn't they?"]

"Yeah, I mean, but I was. My job was to lock them up. If I were them, I wouldn't have liked me either." (listen to the whole interview here.)

I don't feel that most of the people I policed were decent people. Most people in the Eastern District may be decent, but as a police officer, you don't police most people. You police the problem-people.

But decent or not, we're all human beings. And this country is founded on the idea that we're endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights. Life is one of the those rights.

Even though I'm not "at risk," I'll keep bringing up the issue of violence, black-on-black murder in particular. I think it's a moral issue. (I also think it's an economic issue, but that's another story.) I think it's wrong to ignore this level of poverty and violence, no matter whose fault it is (and personally, I do blame the victim a lot of the time). We can do better.

We're a rich country. Supposedly we're a caring country. And if you're the type of person to ask "what would Jesus do?" go ahead and ask. I don't know what He'd say, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't be "fuck 'em."


DJK said...

I'm flattered to be the subject of one of your posts.

What I don't get is, what do you propose we, as a country, do? How do WE stop black males from killing black males?

How do WE stop the culture that says it's ok to kill each other, etc.

PCM said...

Drug legalization. I really think that getting the violence out of the drug trade would change thug culture.

Outside of drug legalization, I don't know. But we should try something. And if that doesn't work, try something else. And keep trying till things get better.

Whatever it takes (outside of drug legalization), it will cost money, which many conservatives won't do. And whatever it takes, it will take some (what will be seen as)"blaming the victim," which many liberals don't won't do.

DJK said...

I agree wholeheartedly with legalization...that's what brought me to your site.

But other than that...That's where I'm lost.

DJK said...

"Drug legalization. I really think that getting the violence out of the drug trade would change thug culture. "

and the money... we need to take the incentive out of "the game".

DJK said...

Even some of the most liberal of our politicians don't get it...

This is the response that I got from Dianne Feinstein when I wrote to her about decriminalization.

Dear Mr. DJK:

Thank you for your letter expressing your opinion on the legalization of marijuana.

Please know that I do not support the legalization of any narcotic drugs, including marijuana. My convictions on this matter have been developed over many years of experience in criminal justice, including nine years as a mayor who worked very closely with the law enforcement community. I know the tragedy that drug abuse causes in the lives of the addicted and on victims of drug-related crimes and their families. I have seen the devastation drugs can inflict on a community.

I do recognize that marijuana may have medicinal properties that could alleviate conditions such as AIDS-related wasting and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. I do not oppose further research on the potential medical efficacy of marijuana and support compassionate use in medical situations when prescribed by a physician in writing for serious and/or catastrophic illnesses.

Again, thank you for taking the time to write. If you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841. I also urge you to utilize my website, http://feinstein.senate.gov, to keep up to date with current Senate activities and the work I am doing for California.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

DJK said...

Exactly, the Right doesn't think it's morally or financially ok...even though they're willing to spend a trillion bucks fighting the "War on Drugs" and like you said, the left won't blame the victim. I'll tell you though, if the victim was the gun owners of America...they'd be happy to throw the blame.

PCM said...

In response to, "and the money... we need to take the incentive out of 'the game'."

Legalization would take the money out of the game. And besides, being poor doesn't make you violent.

If we could take the violence out of the ghetto, I think people would have a lot better chance of pulling themselves out of poverty.

Almost all the local business (what few there are) are behind bullet-proof glass. Business after shuttered business closed down after the owner got killed in a robbery--and that includes the guy who always had two guns strapped to his hips.

DJK said...

Peter. I agree with you. That's what I'm saying. Legalize it to take the incentive away. ...preaching to the choir.

DJK said...

This is one area where I say, hell yeah, tax is good. Legalize it. Regulate it. Tax it. Let the market run it. Just like FFLs...but less restrictive.