Friday, March 11, 2016

"Ghettoside" Author Jill Leovy on what we have Learned since Rodney King
"...The safe take safety for granted. They assume that they are safe because safety is a state of nature, and that violence is an aberration. They fail to realize that, historically, it’s the safe people who are the strange ones.... They don’t have to negotiate with killers. Their neighbors don’t coerce them. Their living rooms are not firebombed if they break ranks with the community. They are the beneficiaries of institutional progress that has shifted the burden of conflict resolution from individuals, families, clans or sects to a highly developed criminal justice system, rooted in democratic processes, controlled by an independent judiciary, and governed by the rule of law. They don’t know how lucky they are....

...So before we talk of addressing legitimacy, we have to be clear about the problem we are trying to fix. The real problem is that formal justice is materially lacking among populations that suffer high rates of violence. It’s missing, and it must be supplied.

That means no amount of warm and fuzzy talk will fill the bill. More than half of killers of black men go free in cities all over the country. The unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County posted solve rates for homicide in the thirty-percent range through some of the most violent periods of the eighties and nineties. This translates to thousands of killers operating with impunity over decades in America’s poorest urban enclaves – dozens per square mile in South Los Angeles over just a few years. And that’s just a glimpse of the uncharted depths of the impunity problem, a statistical dark zone, where no good information exists on the frequency of non-lethal crimes, assaults and threats. The resulting lawlessness is a cruel form of deprivation afflicting tens of thousands of mostly poor, minority residents of America’s inner-cities, who get roughed up, robbed and raped with appalling frequency and live in daily fear that their sons might be killed. Its remedy must be to supply official justice, not just engage in “dialogue.” Violence is not a problem for coaches and pastors to solve; the state must do its job."

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