Police Fail to Collect Racial Data

In news in the U.S., the Boston Herald is reporting that forty percent of police departments are not collecting data tracking whether minority drivers are disproportionately stopped for traffic violations which, of course, has made it difficult to draw any conclusions about whether police unfairly target Black drivers. Under a Massachusetts state program launched two years ago, 247 police departments were asked to record specific data about their traffic stops, including race and gender of the driver. A review of data by the recently elected African American Governor Deval Patrick’s administration found that only 140 of the police departments followed the guidelines.

The fact that the police departments are not collecting statistics that may reveal racial (and gender) discrimination, is not surprising. The policy of asking organizations and institutions to report on their own discriminatory practices is, at the very least, deeply flawed if not doomed to failure. The other lesson to take away from this story is the dead-end road of thinking in terms of “color blindness” or “eliminating” racial categorization while racist practices, such as police racial profiling in traffic stops, continue.

Neo-Nazis Arrested in Israel

And, as if to illustrate the previous post I made about the rise of anti-semitism globally, neo-Nazis have been arrested in Israel, the New York Times is reporting.

Eight young men, ages 16 to 21, were arrested between July 23 and Sept. 6 on charges of attacking “religious Jews, homosexuals, Asians and other foreigners.” All are immigrants to Israel from the former Soviet Union.

One police official quoted in the story speaks to the incredulity many of us feel at this story when he says: “It’s difficult to believe that Nazi-ideology sympathizers can exist in Israel, but it’s a fact,” Revital Almog, the police official who directed the investigation, told Israel Radio.

Police also reported that these neo-Nazis “had contacts with neo-Nazi groups abroad” but they don’t say how. I think it’s safe to assume that they were in contact via the Internet with these other groups. And, the police also found videos of the youths attacking their victims, which raises some interesting questions about hate crimes and spectatorship. Perhaps the original hate crime (attacking a victim based on identity) is only satisfying for the perpetrators if they can watch themselves enacting this violent display, or, more probably, watch others watching them in this position of power.