Beverly Hills Cops Bust Guy for Walking While Black

Beverly Hills Cops Bust Guy for Walking While Black September 8, 2014

Wow.

WHEN YOU “FIT THE DESCRIPTION”!

It’s one of those things that you hear about, but never think it would happen to you.

On Friday afternoon, August 22nd around 5:20pm, while innocently walking by myself from a restaurant on Wilshire Blvd, to my car up LaCienega Blvd my freedom was taken from me by the Beverly Hills Police Department.

Within seconds, I was detained and told to sit on the curb of the very busy street, during rush hour traffic.

Within minutes, I was surrounded by 6 police cars, handcuffed very tightly, fully searched for weapons, and placed back on the curb.

Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.

Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall, bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know at the time that I was a law abiding citizen of the community and that in my 51 years of existence, had never been handcuffed or arrested for any reason. All they saw, was someone fitting the description. Doesn’t matter if he’s a “Taye Diggs BLACK”, a “LL Cool J BLACK”, or “a Drake BLACK”

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was an award nominated and awarding winning business professional, most recently being recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal at their Nonprofit & Corporate Citizenship Awards. They didn’t need to because, they saw someone fitting the description.

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a well educated American citizen that had received a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, an MBA from Indiana University (including a full Consortium Fellowship to business school) and an Executive Leadership Certificate from Harvard Business School. Hey, I was “tall”, “bald”, a “male” and “black”, so I fit the description.

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that I was a Consultant for the NAACP, a film and tv producer, a previous VP of Marketing for a wireless application company, VP of Integrated Promotions for a marketing agency, ran Community Affairs for the Atlanta Hawks, was the Deputy Director of Olympic Village Operations for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, was a Test/Quality/Mfg Engineering Manager for IBM and was a Bond Trader on Wall street. Surely, folks that fit the description wouldn’t qualify as any of those.

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that throughout my entire life I have been very active in serving the communities that I have lived in, including Chapter President and National PR Chair for NSBE, a USC Student Senator, a USC Trojan Knight, a USC Engineering Student Council Member, a USC Black Students Council Member, and a Resident Assistant; as well as a founding board member of the RTP NBMBAA, a member of Durham County Transportation Advisory Board, Durham City / County Planning Commission, Atlanta House of Love for the Homeless Board, Cobb County Transportation Advisory Board, Georgia CASA Board, United Way of Greater Atlanta VIP Selection Committee, Jomandi Theater Board, Silver Lake Film Festival Board, Downtown LA Film Festival Board, Chaka Khan Foundation Fundraising Dinner Committee, and the USC Black Alumni Association Board. Nawl, not a “black male”, especially a “tall, bald” one.

I get that the Beverly Hills Police Department didn’t know that just hours earlier, I was at one of the finest hotels in their city, handling celebrity talent at a Emmy Awards Gifting Suite, as part of business as usual, and, invited to attend a VIP Emmy pre-party that very night in their city. The guy doing that, just DON”T fit the description.

What I don’t get………WHAT I DON”T GET, is, why, during the 45 minutes that they had me on the curb, handcuffed in the sun, before they locked me up and took away my civil rights, that they could not simply review the ATM and bank’s HD video footage to clearly see that the “tall, bald headed, black male”… did not fit MY description.

Why, at 11:59pm (approximately 6 hours later), was the video footage reviewed only after my request to the Lead Detective for the Beverly Hills Police Department and an FBI Agent to do so, and, after being directly accused by another FBI Special Agent of “…going in and out of the bank several times complaining about the ATM Machine to cause a distraction…” thereby aiding in the armed robbery attempt of a bank that I never heard of, or ever been to; and within 10 minutes……10 MINUTES, my lawyer was told that I was being release because it was clear that it was not me.

The sad thing is, prior to my freedom being taken from me for an easily proven crime I did not commit, I was walking back to my car, by myself, because I needed to check my parking meter, so that I wouldn’t get a ticket and break the law. In fact, if it wasn’t for a text message that I was responding to, I would have actually been running up LaCienega Blvd when the first Beverly Hills Police Officer approached me. Running!

I want to thank GOD, Robin Lola Harrison of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, Robert Dowdy and Attorney Jaaye Person-Lynn , without whom, I am certain that I would still be locked up in the custody of the Beverly Hills Police Department. Based on comments made by a Beverly Hills Police Officer during my booking, and an FBI Special Agent, it appeared that they had tried and convicted me.

To everyone, especial black males (regardless of height, hair style or particular shade of “black”) – Hari Williams, Michael Marcel, Reginald L Shaw, Shawn Carter Peterson, Devon Libran, Aaron D Spears, Cedric Sanders, Cornelius Smith Jr, Catfish Jean, Ashford Thomas, Drew McCaskill, Carlton Jordan, Jawn Murray, AS Lee, Bertrand L Roberson Sr, Deron Benjamin, Hawk Oau, James Alan Belk, Juhahn Jones, Darryl Dunning II, Darrin Dewitt Henson, Stephen Bishop, Logan Alexander, Michael Moore, Brandon Dmico Anderson, Jon Covington, Lamar Stewart, David Mitchell, Gerald Andre Radford, Gerald Edwin Rush II, Gerald Yates, etal, – I have always stayed as far away from being on the wrong side of the law as much as possible; so please, be careful. If something like this can happen to ME, it can certainly happen to ANYONE!

Time has come for a change in the way OUR law enforcement officers “serve and protect” us.

We all do not, FIT THE DESCRIPTION.

Garrison Keillor used to remark that nothing bad ever happens to a writer: it’s all just material. These cops better get used to the fact that they are going to be starring in a movie and they won’t be the heroes.

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  • jroberts548

    But obviously, the real racist is the guy who’s complaining about this, rather than all the good cops who are just doing their jobs, trying to make it home for supper, and just arresting random black men for no reason.

    • Benjamin2.0

      How did this turn into a racism thing, exactly? I’ve seen it asserted left and right, but ‘held for fitting the description of a bank robber who happens to be black’ is a lot different from ‘arrested because he’s black’. The facts paint a grayer picture than the slanted story they managed to escape from.

      As the facts stand, yes, it looks like “the real racist is the guy who’s complaining about this.” He can certainly complain that he wasn’t more accurately identified than a vague description, but racism certainly hasn’t been established. It looks like the cops are being convicted in the court of pop psychology (a pretty deplorable science even before “pop” got his hands on it) for daring to note the skin color of a bank robber.

      • MarylandBill

        When was the last time a white person was arrested for meeting such a common description as tall, bald and white? Its not that they noted the skin color of the suspect, but rather the fact that, had that skin color been white, they would never have acted on such a vague description.

        Honestly, I think he is entirely justified to complain that it took 6 hours for the cops to even bother checking the video of the crime to see if he was the guy; the whole while treating him like he was guilty.

        • Benjamin2.0

          When was the last time a white person was arrested for meeting such a common description as tall, bald and white?

          I’ve no idea.

          Its not that they noted the skin color of the suspect, but rather the fact that, had that skin color been white, they would never have acted on such a vague description.

          Documentation, please.

          Honestly, I think he is entirely justified to complain that it took 6 hours for the cops to even bother checking the video of the crime to see if he was the guy; the whole while treating him like he was guilty.

          Me, too. You don’t have to presume racism to think so.

          • Matt Talbot

            Benjamin is trolling here, folks. The best response to him is to move the conversation along.

            For example: given that racism seems to be so deeply embedded in our society (and most of us other than Benjamin would so grant): how ought we as a society to respond in order to correct this injustice?

            What can we as a society do to build a world where people like the victim in the story can go about their business in peace, having the same confidence as white people do of not being treated more or less constantly as a suspect?

            • Benjamin2.0

              Yes. Don’t question the sacred premise. Fear the social repercussions thereof! Racism is a given! There is no defense against the accusation!

              I refute you thusly: you’re a racist, and are therefore wrong.

              What a troll…

              • Matt Talbot

                Right, but given that racism seems to be so deeply embedded in our society (and
                most of us other than Benjamin would so grant): how ought we as a
                society to respond in order to correct this injustice?

                What can we
                as a society do to build a world where people like the victim in the
                story can go about their business in peace, having the same confidence
                as white people do of not being treated more or less constantly as a
                suspect?

                • Benjamin2.0

                  Clearly racists, in their copy-pasting haste, are wont to incur spacing problems.

                  • Matt Talbot

                    Right, but given that racism seems to be so deeply embedded in our society (and most of us other than Benjamin would so grant): how ought we as a society to respond in order to correct this injustice?

                    What can weas a society do to build a world where people like the victim in the story can go about their business in peace, having the same confidence as white people do of not being treated more or less constantly as a suspect?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      MUCH better! Here’s a rep, sir.

                    • Matt Talbot

                      Right, but given that racism seems to be so deeply embedded in our society (and most of us other than Benjamin would so grant): how ought we as a society to respond in order to correct this injustice?

                      What can we as a society do to build a world where people like the victim in the story can go about their business in peace, having the same confidence as white people do of not being treated more or less constantly as a suspect?

                    • Alex

                      “What can we as a society do to build a world where people like the victim in the story can go about their business in peace, having the same confidence as white people do of not being treated more or less constantly as a suspect?”

                      Begin by asking — dispassionately — why black people commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes?

                    • Andy

                      Where did you get your “why black people commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes?” from? Is it possible that rather then color it might be SES? The question could also be asked are more blacks found guilty of violent crime? The roots of crime do not begin with race they begin with asking why anyone commits a crime.

                    • KM

                      In terms of absolute numbers from the FBI, it looks like whites are about even with blacks on 2012 arrests for violent crimes such as murder and a bit higher on forcible rape. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/tables/43tabledatadecoverviewpdf

                      Overall violent crime has been declining every year since 2008 but with an uptick in 2012. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2012/crime-in-the-u.s.-2012/violent-crime/violent-crime

                      From the data I don’t think we can conclude that blacks commit a disproportionate number of violent crimes in terms of absolute numbers. (As a percentage of their own population, the rate is higher than for whites as a percentage of the white population.) The fear of black crime may be overhyped by the media.

          • MarylandBill

            Here is the point, most of us who are white have never experienced any similar treatment at the hands of the Police, nor do we know anyone who has if they are also white. From my experience most blacks have had such experiences or known someone who has.

            • Benjamin2.0

              I do know white people who were mishandled by police in, admittedly, less dramatic ways. Opposing illegitimate police action in se would solve these problems without having to introduce the muddy subject of what secret feelings motivate them. It’s worse still to make those secret feelings the matter for punishment and to make that accusation carelessly.

              • MarylandBill

                Okay, you do.. but that still leaves lots of us who don’t. Once may not be racism, but when there is a patter of it happening, over and over again, its hard to look at it and say that none of it is due to racism.

                • Benjamin2.0

                  That racism could explain the trend isn’t evidence that it does. If unlawful arrests were treated as kidnapping on the grounds that the police are acting without sufficient authority, the problem would be solved regardless.

              • Marthe Lépine

                In this particular case, “secret feelings” really look like a neat way to rename “racism”; I think that is usually called an euphemism, but in this case the actual English term just escapes my French mind… But the use of such verbal tricks, whatever they are called, often disguises some inner prejudice.

                • Benjamin2.0

                  I’m openly and forthrightly calling racism which hasn’t been established by evidence “secret feelings.” I wonder how you could claim otherwise. Substantiated or admitted racism, by that measure, would be “not-so-secret feelings.” I’m using words to draw a clear distinction in order to communicate meaning. ‘Euphemism’ is the use (or misuse) of words to dampen meaning. Your attempt to condemn me as the possessor of a secret prejudice for the sake of that distinction is a substance-free insult.

      • Hezekiah Garrett

        It’s one thing not to see the forest for the trees. It’s quite another to attach pine branches to one’s spectacles by means of rubber bands.

        • Benjamin2.0

          And the flimsiest of analogies adhere to the glue of an unreflective worldview.

      • jroberts548

        Are you kidding me?

        1. I don’t know what psychologizing has to do with it. I’m sure both you and the racist cops have a lot of black friends. When a cop arrests a Black guy solely on the basis of him being black, that’s racism, regardless of the cop’s psychological state. Racism can be both subjective and institutional; that a series of cops thought “black male, shaved head” was sufficient to justify an arrest (and that the dispatcher thought that was a sufficient description in the first place) certainly reflects the latter. (It also probably reflects the former, but that’s not even an interesting question, except for the racist cops who should ask themselves why they’re such bigots.)

        2. Are there any circumstances under which you would see racism? Here, we have a cop arresting a Black guy and holding him in jail for 6 hours, and the only basis for probable cause is that the arrestee is a Black guy. If you don’t see racism here, I don’t think you would see it if it lit a cross on fire in your neighbor’s front lawn.

        • Benjamin2.0

          When a cop arrests a Black guy solely on the basis of him being black, that’s racism, regardless of the cop’s psychological state.

          Yes it is… but that’s not what actually happened, is it?

          Racism can be both subjective and institutional; that a series of cops thought “black male, shaved head” was sufficient to justify an arrest

          Is that all there was to justify the man’s being held, or is that just all the man presented in his article?

          (It also probably reflects the former, but that’s not even an interesting question, except for the racist cops who should ask themselves why they’re such bigots.)

          Are you or are you not claiming to know the motives of these policemen and condemning them for your “findings”, you pop psychologist, you?

          Are there any circumstances under which you would see racism?

          I answered that above. The situation you describe would be racist. The trouble is that the situation doesn’t seem to be as you describe it.

          Here, we have a cop arresting a Black guy and holding him in jail for 6 hours, and the only basis for probable cause is that the arrestee is a Black guy.

          See? There it is again. A man was held for fitting the description of a bank robber who was black. From the snide allusions in the text, we can probably suspect that the cops went so far as to narrow the skin color to a more precise shade than merely “black,” but this is being portrayed as more racist rather than an attempt at precision (I have never heard of attempting to narrow the shade of “white male” — why the double standard?). We have no idea if he was found in a location where the police were looking in particular upon suspicion that the bank robber was nearby. All we know is that the description itself offended the arrestee and that he was understandably upset for being held for six hours. If you want to call this bad procedure, fine, but get something of substance before you start claiming to understand the policemen’s secret ill will. I think if your neighbor’s concrete cross-shaped lawn ornament caught the rising sun just right, you’d scream racism.

          • Mariana Baca

            But a cursory look at the security footage reveals he *didn’t* meet the description. Tall, black, and bald fits almost all black men. It is too vague. It is like if a crime was committed in a financial district looking for a “white man in suit”. Most black men are fairly tall and many shave their heads for convenience.

            The thing that is racist is that nobody thought to go deeper into “what does this black robber really look like, to distinguish him from any other black man?” As if all black men were fairly interchangeable, and that it is not a waste of the black citizen’s day and a violation of his rights to sit around in handcuffs for hours being denied his rights and actually being arrested.

            • Benjamin2.0

              But a cursory look at the security footage reveals he *didn’t* meet the description.

              And he was released upon said cursory look. I’m not questioning that that look came later than it should have. I’ve even said so:

              All we know is that the description itself offended the arrestee and that he was understandably upset for being held for six hours. If you want to call this bad procedure, fine, but get something of substance before you start claiming to understand the policemen’s secret ill will.

              • Marthe Lépine

                The story said that that “cursory look” was not done until several hours later. Was the footage available only 6 hours later? If not, it looks to me like the cops just neglected to check their facts. Then, why? Could it just be because the man fitted the vague and general description given, e.g. black, shaved head and tall? Then it is racism…

                • Benjamin2.0

                  Could it just be because the man fitted the vague and general description given, e.g. black, shaved head and tall? Then it is racism…

                  You’ve provided no clear logical progression from your premise to your conclusion. You condemn men who judged a man wrongly on insufficient evidence with insufficient evidence. I don’t have to disagree with your ends in order to criticize your means.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    I was not making an accusation, just asking a question and commenting on a possible answer. Just saying: “if it was just because he fitted the vague and general description”, it was racism, but I was not saying that it was actually the only reason.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Ah, but that’s the statement I was challenging. While “if it was just because he fitted the vague and general description” it could be racism, but it could also just be abysmal police procedure.

          • jroberts548

            I don’t know why you’re still replying to me. You’ve already said you’re just doing this to be a troll.

            I didn’t say I understood the cops’ secret ill will. I even said that that’s not even an interesting question, except for the cops themselves, respectively.

            I did say that this pretty clearly reflects racism on the institutonal level. Nothing here suggests probable cause. The only grounds offered for arresting him are that he fit the description of a black male with a shaved head. That description fits a lot of people. It’s a completely useless description.

            When the only grounds for probable cause is that the arrestee is a black man, that reflects racism. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the secret ill will of any individual cop. It does reflect that the police department on an institutional level is fine treating someone like this solely on the basis of them being a black male.

            • Benjamin2.0

              I don’t know why you’re still replying to me. You’ve already said you’re just doing this to be a troll.

              I’ve said I jumped at the chance to have a rational discussion regarding a matter which is never rationally discussed. If you call that trollery, you only condemn yourself.

              I did say that this pretty clearly reflects racism on the institutonal level.

              And that’s the statement I’ve challenged. I’d like you to back that up. Discussions require at least two participants.

              Nothing here suggests probable cause. The only grounds offered for arresting him are that he fit the description of a black male with a shaved head. That description fits a lot of people. It’s a completely useless description.

              I think people can be held and processed without the act being classified as an arrest. Likewise, I agree he was held too long in light of the evidence.

              When the only grounds for probable cause is that the arrestee is a black man, that reflects racism. It doesn’t necessarily reflect the secret ill will of any individual cop. It does reflect that the police department on an institutional level is fine treating someone like this solely on the basis of them being a black male.

              You aren’t defending your points. You just keep repeating the assertions I’ve challenged using the very same article we’ve both read. I think you’re probably a rational person. Why won’t you use that reason? Are you so dedicated to a conclusion that you won’t acknowledge factual challenges to its premises?

              • jroberts548

                When you’re handcuffed, taken into jail, and have bail set at $100,000, that’s an arrest. You can only be arrested with probable cause.

                Before being arrested, he was stopped. You can only be stopped with reasonable suspicion. You’re stopped when you’re not free to go, but you’re also not yet in custody.

                Cops can talk to people during an encounter without any probable cause or reasonable suspicion. But Mr. Belk was handcuffed and taken to jail, so we’re not really talking about encounters.

                You’re so determined to not see racism, that you can’t even see the arrest. That’s impressive.

                • Benjamin2.0

                  I’ll grant the arrest, then. You still have to demonstrate the racism.

                  You’re so determined to not see racism, that you can’t even see the arrest. That’s impressive.

                  Perhaps you do find my failure to make fine legal distinctions impressive, but that coming from a student of law just isn’t as insulting as you might hope. You should be really impressed that I granted you a point based on the weight of a supporting argument. It’s my superpower; I haven’t found a single other human being who can do it. The trick is to see wrongness as an opportunity to become more correct. That state of mind is like my supersoldier serum. Could we move on to the relevant matter now? Perhaps I could impress you further.

                  • jroberts548

                    I admire your magnanimity and openness of mind.

                    Is there anything, other than Belk’s race, that provides the cops with a plausible claim of probable cause here?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      I admire your magnanimity and openness of mind.

                      Flattery will get you my car keys, wallet’s contents, and social security number, sir. The willingness to acknowledge positive qualities in your adversary is an honorable and rare trait. To not see the guy on the other side of the argument as an adversary is rarer still. I’ll click that up arrow thing either way.

                      Is there anything, other than Belk’s race, that provides the cops with a plausible claim of probable cause here?

                      His race was certainly a factor, but, according to the piece itself, his hairstyle, height, and (arguably) “shade” were factors as well. This doesn’t include any factors which may exist without the author’s knowledge like time and location. I’m not saying racism is ruled out. I’m saying it’s far from certain. Please understand that I have nothing but vengeful disdain for racists, and therefore I think the charge shouldn’t be made lightly. One can’t blame the police for declaring his guilt on weak evidence while doing the same to them. Only integrity can challenge disintegrity. If evil is a privation, then it can only be opposed by inserting the good which it lacks.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    Now, you do grant the arrest… And it seems that the arrest was not really justified based on the vague description given of the suspect. Then, do you have any other explanation, other than being black, to explain an arrest without probable cause? Just saying that the other person’s argument is not valid does not constitute an argument. What is your actual reason to claim that that particular arrest without probable cause was not based on the man’s colour?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      You have a way of arriving late to an argument and asking questions I’ve already answered.

                      What is your actual reason to claim that that particular arrest without probable cause was not based on the man’s colour?

                      So you’ll condemn the police on the presumption of guilt of racism in spite of the fact that that racism hasn’t been established? Will you commit the crimes of these policemen in order to punish them? Will you then take the ring to the very gates of Mordor in order to battle evil outright with its own means? I’ve already said that opposition of evil requires integrity. I’ll not oppose the opposition of racism, but I’ll die protecting men who are only possibly innocent from the reckless accusation. Either this is a serious crime to be taken seriously or it isn’t. If the former, then better a guilty man go free than an innocent be punished. If the latter, why bother arguing or seeking correction?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Sorry, this does not prove anything to me… I just find it difficult to find an actual argument within your comment. Would you mind just putting it in bold letters for me? It is not just a matter of finding out if this particular man’s racism has been established, but of commenting of the general attitude often found within many police forces, particularly in your country (where I live it would probably be a matter of the attitude towards Aboriginals).
                      And what is wrong to coming into a discussion a little late? The discussion has not been closed, has it?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      I just find it difficult to find an actual argument within your comment. Would you mind just putting it in bold letters for me?

                      Your burden of proof is as wrong as that of the police. The police arrested a man not only without sufficient proof, but while actually holding the evidence which cleared him. You are calling the cops racist and condemning them for their racism. You have no actual evidence that they are racist. Even if I grant you the premise that the general police attitude toward black men is wrong, it is not sufficient to prove the police in this case are racist. I’m telling you that you can’t carelessly condemn men for carelessly condemning someone.

                      Or, as I said yesterday:

                      One can’t blame the police for declaring his guilt on weak evidence while doing the same to them. Only integrity can challenge disintegrity. If evil is a privation, then it can only be opposed by inserting the good which it lacks.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Since you agree he was held too long in light of the evidence… what other reason than being black would you think there was for doing that?

          • entonces_99

            Yes it is… but that’s not what actually happened, is it?

            No, he wasn’t arrested (and held for six hours) just for being black. He was arrested and held for six hours just for being black, male, tall, and bald-headed. I’m sure there are only three or four people in LA who meet that description, so the cops’ mistake is totally understandable.

      • Benjamin2.0

        THE HOOK IS SET!

        • jroberts548

          Are you just trolling? What does that even mean?

          • Benjamin2.0

            It means I caught you.

            Like a fish.

            It’s a fishing metaphor.

            I’m bad a fishing though. I’m more like a fisher of men.

            • jroberts548

              Troll.

              • Benjamin2.0

                I’ve always wanted to challenge your itchy racism finger per se, but it was never quite relevant to the discussion. But here we are. Also, I caught all those guys down below. It seems that it’s considered tasteless to challenge a bad assertion of racism these days. I’d rather live in a world where unsupported declarations of bad motives are in poor taste, and here’s my chance to craft it. I’ve caught multiple ingots on one hook which I can fire in the flames of reason into a shining empire of logic! Fall powerless before my conglomerate metaphors, o ye nations!

                • jroberts548

                  Good choice. Obviously, the one time I’ve been too quick to spot someone being racist is when the cops think “black male, shaved head” is probable cause to arrest someone.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    Seriously, your attempt at sarcasm indicts you. “[W]hen the cops think ‘black male, shaved head’ is probable cause to arrest someone” there is are at least two conclusions available: racism and poor understanding of probable cause.

                    • jroberts548

                      If you think probable cause includes being black, without anything else, then yes, you do have a poor understanding of probable cause.

                      Unless you also think that probable cause includes all other generic descriptions, that’s also racist.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      If you think probable cause includes being black, without anything else, then yes, you do have a poor understanding of probable cause.
                      Blecchh. I came for a discussion, and all I got was you asserting dubious things. I suspected as much, but my faith in the image of God being somewhere in you has me attempting to appeal to your loyalty to truth. Don’t fight it. Follow it where it leads.

                    • jroberts548

                      So what’s the truth here? The cops had probable cause? What makes you say the cops had probable cause? Or do you have any other non-racist, remotely plausible explanation?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      The cops had probable cause?

                      Oh heavens, no.

                    • jroberts548

                      So, cops unlawfully arrested a Black guy, on the basis of being Black and bald, and there’s no racism problem here?

                      What explanation that doesn’t involve institutionalized racism is there?

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Cops arresting people, beating down doors, and performing searches illegally is a problem in general. It takes further argument to attach race as a motive. That it happened to someone who isn’t white doesn’t necessitate that it happened to him because he isn’t white.

                    • jroberts548

                      So best case scenario, these cops are just fascist. I can grant that.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      I do so love that we can eventually argue to a point of agreement. You’re my favorite opponent to date.

                    • jroberts548

                      But still, if the problem is that our nation’s PDs have been hiring a bunch of fascists, that’s a very serious problem.

                      On the other hand, depending on the nature of the racism, it could be an easy fix. It could be as simple as cops being aware that “Black, shaved head” describes a lot of people, and therefore requiring better descriptions. Generally, being less deferential to cops’ determinations of probable cause would solve a lot of problems of both racism and police overreach more generally. Exposing cops to personal liability for unlawful arrests would do a great deal of good to both problems. The solutions to police fascism and to police racism are mostly all the same, except for a few things (like training cops to require more specificity in descriptions).

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      Exposing cops to personal liability for unlawful arrests would do a great deal of good to both problems. The solutions to police fascism and to police racism are mostly all the same

                      I agree wholeheartedly. You got peanut butter on my chocolate! Just below, I suggested treating unlawful arrests as kidnapping on the grounds that the arresters are acting without sufficient authority (therefore, they actually are kidnapping). I’ll leave the lawyers to decide whether those grounds are firm enough for the courtroom.

  • Andy

    Within an hour, I was transported to the Beverly Hills Police Headquarters, photographed, finger printed and put under a $100,000 bail and accused of armed bank robbery and accessory to robbery of a Citibank.

    Within an evening, I was wrongly arrested, locked up, denied a phone call, denied
    explanation of charges against me, denied ever being read my rights, denied
    being able to speak to my lawyer for a lengthy time, and denied being told that
    my car had been impounded…..All because I was mis-indentified as the wrong “tall,bald head, black male,” … “fitting the description.”
    Or

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/08/santiago-hernandez-nypd-beating_n_5782074.html?utm_hp_ref=latino-voices&ir=Latino%20Voices
    Vs.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/09/06/white-teen-in-bmw-hits-three-cars

    assaults-cop-in-pennsylvania-and-doesnt-get-shot/

    It doesn’t take much beyond common sense to see how the behavior
    of the police towards black citizens – perhaps non-white citizens is
    problematic and apparently racist.

  • Pete the Greek

    I have a quick, side question for the people ‘discussing’ this topic below:

    How many of you actually KNOW any cops? I don’t mean ‘I met one once in the checkout line at the gas station’, I mean, actually KNOW them a little.

    How many?

    • Benjamin2.0

      Go ahead and jump in, if you can handle the controversy. It’s fun for the whole family.

      • Pete the Greek

        I’ll pass, thanks.

        I ask the question because it seems in these discussions they always degenerate into two camps: one holding as an article of Gospel truth that cops are like feral dogs who prowl about looking for the nearest person who isn’t white to oppress. The other camp solidifies into the group that seems to think cops can do no wrong.

        Both of these are characterizations are just that. It reminds me of pretty much any public discussion forum when the conversation involves the priesthood: you get one side who is convinced that 185% of all priests spend 27 hours a day simply looking for little boys and the other side who, even in a case like Fr. Corapi, can’t even be brought to acknowledge that, perhaps, he did something wrong.

        So, no, don’t want to get involved. It will degenerate into sound and fury meaning nothing. People who are convinced all cops are racist (including the black cops too, I suppose) don’t know any and show no signs of wanting to learn anything about them. The other side usually has little real knowledge either.

        Actually getting to know some is why I tend now to stay away from these click-bait flame wars that are always prefaced with something like “SEE! LOOK HOW RACISTY THESE RACIST RACISTS ARE!”

        All you guys knock yourself out, though.

        • Benjamin2.0

          I can’t really blame you…

          But I will anyway! How dare you abandon me to this mob! Pelt these pigs with so many pearls that they can’t find the mud anymore! Drag them into a dignified opinion whether they like it or not!

          • Pete the Greek

            Can’t. I will be accused of being a total racist who is willing to apologize for ANY overreach of police power, real or imagined.

            In short, I will be instantly lumped into the other category. It’s like arguing with people waving Chick Tracts.

            • Benjamin2.0

              It’s like arguing with people waving Chick Tracts.

              Ambiguous. Are the “people” waving the Chick tracts or is waving Chick tracts the means of arguing with them. Despite the fact that your point stands either way, I’ll classify this as an error and hold you honorbound to assist me in my most holy and foolhardy crusade. I’ll also be doing it too late. Mr. Roberts and I found a peaceful and mutually agreeable resolution. You’re off the hook.

    • jroberts548

      I don’t see how that’s relevant. I’m sure your cop buddies are nice people. That doesn’t make the cops in this story any better.

      • Pete the Greek

        Very relevant, actually.

        Not knowing how the process works can make people sound like idiots. For example: the guy is indigent that he was ‘denied his phone call’. You don’t have an automatic right to a phone call outside of the world of the TV show “Law and Order”. The number you can have can vary from ‘as many as you want’ to ‘none’, all depending on where you were picked up and what the crime is.

        The article speaks to quite a bit of what is a problem in the bureaucracy, but that doesn’t equate to racism. The reason he was picked up, is probably because the initial calls out to active cars was not a detailed description but probably just what the panicked tellers and back employees could give, which, I’m guessing here, was probably just something like ‘He was black. He was, uh… bald… uh….”

        The problem is that too many look at these stories and instantly think “well, it was obvious racism.” I don’t think it’s obvious. You don’t perhaps think that cops in HOLLYWOOD CALIFORNIA won’t be scrutinized for racial motives in everything? (Actually, that’s not fair to Hollywood. My home town is the same way.)

        • jroberts548

          You know who really sounds like idiots to me? THE COPS WHO ARRESTED SOMEONE FOR BEING BLACK. I can forgive a tv producer for thinking he’s automatically entitled to a phone call. I can’t forgive a cop, who should know better, for thinking that “Black, shaved head” was sufficient for probable cause.

          The incomplete description might justify the stop (i.e., reasonable suspicion). It doesn’t justify anything else that happened.

          If cops in HOLLYWOOD think that “black, shaved head” is probable cause, then yes, there is an obvious racism problem in the department, unless you’re telling me they’re discriminating against bald people instead.

          • Pete the Greek

            Yes, they are guilty of being racist idiots because…. well, you’re just convinced they are… based upon… your extensive knowledge of how police work is done, I suppose?

            There may have been massive screw ups in this case, I won’t deny that. But, like in the Ferguson incident, I refuse to instantly join in a know-nothing lynch mob based on a single post on a website.

            You are the poster child for everything that is wrong in these discussions.

            • jroberts548

              What non-race-related explanation is there for the arrest?

              • Pete the Greek

                An explanation that will satisfy your obvious NEED for this to be racial? That will mesh with your iron set presupposition that it is racial? None.

                That’s why you’re a waste of time here.

                • jroberts548

                  No, any explanation at all. For instance, elsewhere in the thread, benjamin 2.0 has suggested, to wit, that the cops could just be lawless fascists. I’m not certain that’s better than this being the product of institution-level (rather than individual-level) racism, but it’s certainly an option.

                  Do you want to suggest that these cops are just lawless thugs?

                  Or do you have a benign explanation? Is it bald men discrimination? Did these cops call in sick on probable cause day in training?

                  • Mike Blackadder

                    I guess also that he was bald, tall and the police say that his clothing matched the description, and obviously he was in the area.

                    Presumably this is why cops ask for a description of a perpetrator to try to track them down. At the end of the day it’s certainly discriminatory, but that’s kind of the point right?

                    I don’t think that this is the main issue though. How did the situation of finding a man who fit their description immediately escalate into putting him in handcuffs, arresting him and then putting him in a cell before even making a simple effort to confirm that this was the right guy by reviewing the tape?

              • Missed this one earlier. The non-racial explanation is simple, general incompetence. See, the truck shooting incident during the Dorner manhunt for an example of how keystone cops things can get in California.

            • MarylandBill

              The basic problem here is the general nature of the description. Black, bald and black could easily equal thousands of people in Hollywood. Do you honestly think that cops would pull over a white man on such a broad description? Even if they were running to put coins in the meter?

              Was this particular arrest proof on institutional racism on behalf of the police? By itself maybe not, but whenever I have talked to blacks and discussions like this has come up, they all seem to either have had an experience where they were pulled over because they didn’t “look” like they belonged in a neighborhood or car, or because they were identified as a suspect to a crime or they know someone who has been subject to such treatment.

              For the record BTW, i had two uncles who were cops, so I do know some, but since it has been more than twenty years since both of them have retired, I expect any knowledge I have might be out of date.

              • Pete the Greek

                “Black, bald and black could easily equal thousands of people in
                Hollywood. Do you honestly think that cops would pull over a white man
                on such a broad description? Even if they were running to put coins in
                the meter?”
                – I think it would depend on the specific area. Locally, if the description went out for ‘Black, bald’ in the South Market district, no, they probably wouldn’t, because ‘black’ is pretty much everyone there, and I’m guessing many are either shaved or wearing a hat.

                However, if the same call went out for ‘highland crossings’ area, which if memory serves is almost 100% white, then probably they would.

                “they were pulled over because they didn’t “look” like they belonged in a neighborhood or car,”
                – It’s not just blacks. I’m white, BUT I’VE HAD THE SAME THING HAPPEN TO ME. I was sitting in a beater truck in a neighborhoods that is almost 100% black and has some known drug activity. A cop pulled in behind and checked me out.

                Why? I was annoyed, but later realized I simply fit the profile. Blue collar whites (which I and the truck looked) go to areas like this in my city to buy drugs. I fit the profile. Fact of the matter was that I was part owner of the apartment block that was across the street looked like blue collar because we had been fixing drywall that day and was sitting in the truck returning phone calls before heading home.

                The cop and his partner were both black. Were they racists?

                • MarylandBill

                  Sure.. if they pulled you over because they decided a white must be in the neighborhood only for drugs. Any sort of racial profiling is racism… even if the cops were white.

                  • Pete the Greek

                    ” Any sort of racial profiling is racism”
                    – Not just false, but amazingly, astoundingly, STUPIDLY false.

                    Based upon your earlier claim to know people in law enforcement, I had thought you MIGHT know a little bit. Not I see you don’t.

                    Here’s something that will blow your mind: black cops will profile other blacks too. It’s called pattern recognition.

                    Just…. nevermind. I’ve wasted enough time here already.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      I’ll release you from your conscription. Your inverted scenario is more than I could’ve asked. The commenting box recognizes your services and releases you from your duties with honor.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      Thank you, sir. I need to leave. The dumb is getting thick in here and I REALLY need some air.

                    • MarylandBill

                      How can it be anything other than racist? You are starting with a judgment on a person based on nothing other than the color of their skin.

                      Yes, racism is based on pattern recognition, but that doesn’t mean it is morally justified. Humans are very good at extrapolating to unjustified conclusions.

                      Perhaps if cops stopped treating every black in a white neighborhood and every white in a black neighborhood as a potential criminal and instead concentrated on looking for actual crimes things would be a lot better.

                    • Visually identifying marks are a legitimate part of excluding people to interrogate. Skin color is as legitimate as eye color and more likely to be accurately observed. It is not racist to use that marking. It’s racist not to.

                      Part of the problem and the complaint in the original article is that the man arrested had a very different shade of black skin than the actual perpetrator. Is the guy who was falsely arrested a racist? Your logic seems to point in that direction.

              • I’m white. I was pulled over on such a description once. I even had a pocketknife fall out of the glove box, at which point the guns came out.

                I suspect attitude had a lot to do with with why I wasn’t arrested, but yes, I have been profiled based on “white guy, dark hair, driving erratically” (I was trying to parallel park, the cop car pulled in behind me and switched on lights when I went into reverse).

            • Taken in isolation, sure there could be non-racial factors that explain the mismanagement. But once you start aggregating these scenarios, nation-wide, a larger picture forms that shows we still have a race problem in this country. This sort of thing doesn’t happen to white men nearly as often as it does to minority me, and in particular black men. There is a reason for that, and I don’t think it’s randomness.

              Moreover, there are different kinds of racism, including the existence of unexamined or even unnoticed prejudices and biases that cause people, even well-meaning, decent people, to behave in a racist manner.

              • Pete the Greek

                “This sort of thing doesn’t happen to white men nearly as often as it does to minority me, and in particular black men.”
                – Go to the FBI uniform crime statistics website and do a comparison on crime rates. Let me know what you find.

                ” that cause people, even well-meaning, decent people, to behave in a racist manner.”
                – THERE IT IS! I was waiting for the thread bare, hackneyed ‘you’re still a racist even if you aren’t’ statement. It always shows up eventually.

                • Does the FBI keep track of statistics relating to police brutality, and are those numbers adjusted to reflect the percentage of each group, rather than straight numbers?

                  “THERE IT IS! I was waiting for the thread bare, hackneyed ‘you’re still a
                  racist even if you aren’t’ statement. It always shows up eventually.”

                  Oh, ffs. You want to tell me that not once in your life did you ever have a fleeting thought, an instinctual bias, based on skin color or ethnicity? That you have always, every single time, treated people entirely equally and fairly? That you have never made an assumption, unacted upon or not, based on race? If so, you must teach the rest of us fallen, imperfect humans.

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbud8rLejLM

                  • Pete the Greek

                    “Does the FBI keep track of statistics relating to police brutality…”
                    – They pretty much track everything. Did you look up the rates like I told you to?

                    “Oh, ffs. You want to tell me that not once in your life”
                    – I think the real problem here is your definition of the word ‘racism’. Treating with people differently doesn’t always equal racism.

                    I am thinking it now. I’m thinking: Wow. This girl REALLY needs to get out more and learn a few more things. Or wait… is that sexist?

                    • “Treating with people differently doesn’t always equal racism.”

                      No, but neither does treating people differently *never* equal racism. There’s a commonality between conservatives who insist that they are totally color-blind, and wish minorities would stop talking about race on the one hand and liberals who are equally insistent that they are never racist and why can’t everyone be as enlightened as they are. Humility is called for, and a recognition of our own faults and the effects of cultural and social contexts. But it’s much easier to yell “You’re racist!” “No, you are!”

                      “Or wait… is that sexist?”
                      Depends — is it because you think I’m stupid, or because I’m a girl?

                    • Pete the Greek

                      “But it’s much easier to yell “You’re racist!” “No, you are!””
                      – That’s the problem with our host’s post actually.

                      “Depends — is it because you think I’m stupid, or because I’m a girl?”

                      – I didn’t call you stupid. I said you need to get out more and actually learn some basic facts.

                      Did you look up the stats yet? Do you plan to?

                    • “”But it’s much easier to yell “You’re racist!” “No, you are!””
                      – That’s the problem with our host’s post actually.”
                      Perhaps, but race is absolutely an issue in this particular encounter and in police/civilian relations generally, and ignoring that won’t help anything.

                      No, I have not; I’m brain-dead from two nights of no sleep, courtesy of a cranky baby, and can barely write a coherent sentence. I will table that point for now, if you wish.

                      Perhaps I need to get out more. I will tell you I am old, I have lived in rural, suburban, and urban areas, I have lived in predominately white, predominately black, predominately Latin, and predominately nothing at all areas, I have worked in the criminal justice system, in academia, and in blue collar jobs, and I have had decent, well-meaning people say racist things to me either because they didn’t think what they said was racist or because they thought I was white. I think I know a decent amount about race issues in this country, but of course I don’t know everything, there is a lot I have not experienced or witnessed first-hand, and, of course, I have not had your particular set of experiences. But then, you have not had mine, either.

                    • Oh, and I do know police officers in real life, FWIW. And In general I admire the profession quite a bit. I may be a defense attorney by temperament, but I think police officers are a vital part of society.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      Your responses are drifting further and further from the entire point of my original responses in this blog post. Let me summarize a few things:

                      1. I have made no claim that racist people DON’T exist. That’s irrelevant.

                      2. My gripe is Mark’s (and most everyone else’s) insistence that the ONLY reason this whole thing happened is because cops=racists. (the quoted writer in the post doesn’t seem to mention if all of the cops were white. In Hollywood, I doubt it. Were all the black cops racist too?)

                      In my above responses (forgot to whom) I mentioned that it seemed to me far more likely that it was a case of heavy bureaucracy not working as it should. This seems, in my experience, FAR more likely than what Mark appears to imagine, which is that some cops heard a call of vague armed robber description, smiled to themselves and thought “OH BOY! At last! I have an excuse to oppress a black guy! THERE’S ONE NOW!”

                      The idea that the entire problem might not have been racism seems to bother people on this thread, almost like they WANT it to be racially motivated. To this I respond, no, I doubt it. You don’t need the phantom or racism to explain a screw up in a government bureaucracy. But as the title of the post points out, Mark automatically believes it to be racism based upon…. his extensive experience with law enforcement I suppose.

                      Additional points: Cops treat people differently, even of the same race, depending on many circumstances. If you actually have any knowledge of law enforcement then you should already understand that, which is why I don’t understand the constant talk of racism.

                    • Well, like I said I’m very tired, although I don’t think I have drifted as far as you think I have (and you were the one who raised my personal experiences or lack thereof).

                      My original point was that there is more than one kind of racism, and that even if the police officers in question were not affirmatively, consciously racist, there were nonetheless racist assumptions and behaviors. Institutional racism is a thing, and it is present in police departments and in their training and in the way they as a whole interact with civilians. Hence my attaching the Avenue Q clip, and pointing out that we all need to start paying more attention to our assumptions and subconscious biases.

                      I don’t think most here would dispute that there are bureaucratic factors; saying that race was a factor or even the main factor is not the same thing as saying that race was the only factor.

                      Yes, of course the police treat people differently based on many circumstances, and one of those circumstances is sometimes skin color.

                      If, instead, the description had been “tall white bald man,” do you really think the police would have arrested and held for six hours Larry David?

                    • Pete the Greek

                      I think your problem is your definition of racism. Tell me: must any form of pattern recognition used by police to check out potential criminal activity TOTALLY EXCLUDE RACE? Perhaps only SOME races? If so, why?

                      “Yes, of course the police treat people differently based on many circumstances, and one of those circumstances is sometimes skin color.”
                      – I didn’t deny this. In fact, my example of when I was checked by the police demonstrated this. Had I been black just sitting in the truck, they probably would have driven right by. But it wasn’t RACISM. You also missed my point entirely: The cops will even treat people of the SAME RACE differently in different circumstances. A white guy in a suit walking slowly through the parking garage of the Plaza 11 restaurant (VERY upscale) here probably won’t even be looked at twice by cops. But a scruffy looking white guy wearing a hoodie doing the same? Probably checked out right away. Can you tell me why? (Make both individuals black, or hispanic and the SAME will also apply)

                      “If, instead, the description had been “tall white bald man,” do you really think the police would have arrested and held for six hours Larry David?”
                      – Not sure, as I’m not familiar with the Hollywood area. Locally here I could see it, depending on the area of town. Probably not Larry David, as I’m guessing he would be recognized pretty quickly.

                      The reason I keep harping on you about looking at the ACTUAL statistics, is that it may open your eyes to the fact that not everytime cops (black or white or whatever) take race into account is it because they have hatred for people of that race. Sometimes, in fact often, there is quite a good reason.

        • The biggest problem isn’t racism. The biggest problem is that they gave the actual bank robber several hours to cover his tracks and get away. They should have better procedures in that jurisdiction to fix an obvious misidentification.

          Personally, I’ve been pulled over because I fit a description. The cop came by, took a look, figured out that it was a mistake, ran my license anyway, and let me go on my way. So long as it’s not an everyday thing, I don’t mind the 10 minutes I lost out of my life. Were it a six hour ordeal, I would be just as angry as the fellow in the story.

          If six hours does not tip your outrage meter, at what length of time do you say that a mistaken detention took too long?

          • Pete the Greek

            I would say that six hour might indeed be excessive. That the cops spent six hours on this guy is not what I was protesting against originally.

            What I was commenting against was the automatic assumption made by Mark and many others here that the ONLY reason this could have happened was because of RACISM(tm)! That’s why I asked how many people actually know cops, because those who do, while they may have met some dull ones, know that such a charge is only something an idiot would level automatically.

            As for the robber getting away, I didn’t follow the rest of the case, but is there anything saying that the search was abandoned after this guy was picked up? Usually they canvas the area and pick up multiple suspects.

            The story strikes me as more a problem of a massive bureaucracy that didn’t communicate well. And yes, they should work to fix that.

            One other point I’d make is the following: The guy’s original post was about 85% little more than a “HEY MORON, DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!?” kind of outrage statement. If, and it’s a BIG if, he had a similar attitude with the police that picked him up, it would go a loooooonnnnggggg way toward explaining why the process took as long as it did.

            No, that isn’t a justification at all. But it would be a possible explanation.

            • If you had gone after the unjust imprisonment angle, you would have had the other side at a disadvantage. The available fixes for the unjust imprisonment problem will disproportionately benefit racial minorities (as compared to their crime rate) on a racist police force and proportionately benefit them for a non-racist force. The remedy would actually fix a universally acknowledged evil. We also wouldn’t have to shoot from the hip on whether someone hundreds or thousands of miles away is a particular sort of sinner.

              But you didn’t see the opening. You went for the conventional narrative, defending the police. You might want to avoid that in future in favor of keeping an eye out for justice that has no need for a racialist lynch mob. I think your cause would advance better if you do.

              If the description is that one perpetrator is black, tall, and bald and you hear that this one, they got, do you pay attention to further black, tall, and bald people? I would be surprised if this man’s apprehension did not adjust the canvas parameters in the actual robber’s favor.

              • Pete the Greek

                I have a shiny trophy here to celebrate your stunning ability to entirely miss the point.
                “You went for the conventional narrative, defending the police.”
                – No, I went for the non-stupid angle of stating the obvious, that it probably didn’t have anything to do with racism. You’ll notice that I never said the cops were justified in everything they did. I don’t know that. You want to talk about how bad it was that the cops kept him for so long. You are free to do so, but that isn’t even a point of debate between us.

                “But you didn’t see the opening.”
                – What? I’m not trying to score points here. All I’m trying to do is help the rest of you not sound quite so dumb when discussing these matters.

                “You might want to avoid that in future in favor of keeping an eye out for justice that has no need for a racialist lynch mob.”
                – Thanks for the pandering, but I’m not in the topic to discuss general principles of justice. My topic in these threads has remained a NARROW one: the screw up was probably not racially motivated at all.

                ” I think your cause would advance better if you do.”
                – My only ’cause’ here is to help you all NOT make such facepalm-worthy posts. In that, judging by your last post, I have failed.

                • I will stand you a beer for each of your conversation partners who respond to this note saying that they don’t think you were supporting the police. For their trouble, I’ll stand them a beer too, if we ever meet in the physical world.

                  I think I understand where you are coming from. Frankly, I’d love to learn how you can know at such a distance the racial views of the officers involved. I’m unable to come to such definitive conclusions from such a distance, either pro or con. Both sides look like ‘rally to the flag’ tribalism to me.

                  • Pete the Greek

                    I will grant you that since I am one of the few here not acting like the mob of peasants in the Monty Python’s Holy Grail ‘burn the witch’ scene it my seem, by comparison, that I am giving the cops here full throated support.

                    “I think I understand where you are coming from.”
                    – Give the evidence of your lack of reading comprehension thus far, I wouldn’t be so quick to smugly pat yourself on the back.

                    “Frankly, I’d love to learn how you can know at such a distance the racial views of the officers involved.”
                    – Me? The only guy here so far that is willing to give them the benefit of the doubt, as I would try to do for anyone? I’m the only one not screaming ‘racism!’ which, considering how little we know of what happened, would REQUIRE I know their hearts. Since I don’t, I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

                    But I do have some hands on experience with cops in general and quite a bit with the locals. What I have found is that cops are rather sensitive on the topic of race, as a single complaint has the possibility, even if unproven, of darkening or killing careers, no matter how distinguished. I say this ‘in general’. The idea that all the cops involved, from the detaining officers, to those that interrogated him, including whatever black cops assigned to that precinct who probably saw what happened, that all of them may like to wear bed sheets and burn crosses on the weekends and browse Stormfront on their iphones while waiting in speed traps, well, it just doesn’t strike me as likely based upon my knowledge and experience. Could they all be David Duke clones? I suppose it IS possible, but not likely. Based on what I learned it is far more probable that, instead of running afoul of a dark cabal of racists, it is far more likely that the entire machinery of police bureaucracy screwed up in this case, which is actually fairly common, like many things run by the state. This doesn’t excuse what happened, it just means it probably wasn’t an institutional conspiracy of racism.

                    (I can’t speak at all about Federal police agencies, as I have zero experience with them)

                    I tell you what: I’ll actually buy YOU a beer once you get enough real knowledge and experience on the subject to have a valid opinion. How’s that for a deal?

                    • What, I don’t know is not a valid opinion? I think you’re all idiots for jumping on race straight away without benefit of even knowing the names involved is not a valid opinion?

                      I agree with you about the sensitivity and justified defensiveness of any govt. employees (especially police but certainly not limited to that sector) to charges of racism. This is why I’m suggesting reforms that don’t hinge on prying into the souls of cops and would up their performance but would incidentally reduce the ability of any racist cops that got past HR to actually put their prejudices into practice.

                      The ability to make things better hinges on focusing on areas of agreement. Focus on fixing the unjust and over-long detention problem and we’re all nodding in agreement. Focus on the racism and the consensus instantly breaks, and hope for actual improvement breaks right along with it.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      Continuous…. reading…. comprehension …. failure….

                      You are addressing a subject I have not even weighed in on. Propose all the policies about detention you want. My ENTIRE series of posts on this topic, EVERY ONE OF THEM, has been addressed at people who, like jroberts548, are CONVINCED beyond all doubt that the only reason this happened is RACISM!

                      My response to these no nothing zealots is that, no, you don’t KNOW that it’s some kind of institutional racism at all, and it MUCH more likely a failure of police bureaucracy as a whole, or incompetence on several levels. That’s it. Do you get it?

                      I’ll write it again in simpler terms to make sure you understand:

                      My entire point is that it is highly improbable that this happened because of police racism. This is not an excuse for what happened, but merely pointing out to our comment box lynch mob that they really don’t KNOW what they are claiming to know.

                      Did you understand that?

                      My entire reason for all these posts is a losing attempt to tell the peasants that no, the lady they want to burn as a witch isn’t made of wood and doesn’t weigh as much as a duck. She isn’t the cause of your problems.

                      You want to talk about solutions, I say great, but your argument isn’t with me. The only argument you could have with me in this case is if you, like them, are convinced that it’s obviously all caused by racism even though we don’t KNOW that at all. IS that your position? If it’s not, then just let it go, as you and I don’t have any argument in that case.

                    • I get what you’re saying. I have from the start.

                      These affairs are largely 2 minute hates. Playing local stand in for the role of Snowball or Emmanuel Goldstein does not derail the lynch mob. It confirms the lynch mob and helps them disengage their rational centers and get on with the inadequately researched cop hate.

                      This is why I’m critiquing both sides of the conversation. I see it as political theater. It’s a form of highly stylized set piece “conversations” that don’t actually engage in seeking solutions but rather reinforce tribal identity as the first order effect. Anybody who accepts any role in the cast of characters, no matter which side, is a part of the problem. This remains true even if they’re objectively right on the underlying facts, which I happen to think you are the leading contender in this particular situation. You admit it could possibly be racism (as do I) but are highly skeptical of the theory and favor the alternate explanation of bureaucratic failure (I actually don’t have a favored alternate).

                      Be honest and tell me, did you really think that you were going to get the other side to budge? This isn’t your first dance with this set of characters.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      “Be honest and tell me, did you really think that you were going to get the other side to budge?”

                      – I know I will never budge them. My weak attempt to inject some basic sanity into this conversation is actually not for their benefit.

                      On every major issue like this, or guns, or freedom of speech, anything, there are three basic groups:

                      Your first group, small and vocal, is totally committed to the ‘yes’ side. NOTHING will sway them.

                      Your second group, also small and vocal, is totally committed to the ‘no’ side. NOTHING will sway them either.

                      The third group is FAR more important. It is very large and have no major feelings either way. They may lean in one direction or the other, but are not committed. It’s for THESE people, people who usually don’t have a lot of basic knowledge on the topic, that arguments are made for. In a similar way, I responded to a stupid atheist on a different site where it was claimed that the Church persecuted men of science throughout the Middle Ages. I know there is NO way I will change his mind. But things have to be answered or else others may start to accept those assertions as fact.

                      I find I have to do this more and more on Mark’s page here. On most subjects I either agree with him, or simply find I don’t have anything useful to add to the discussion, so I don’t comment. In this case, Mark Shea should have known better. This wasn’t a post just saying: “Look at the injustice that was done here.” It was “LOOK! THESE PEOPLE ARE RACISTS!!!” And no, he didn’t KNOW it was, just like you and I don’t know. To be honest, his title and post text border on calumny. This is particularly troublesome because of his name and position. I know he doesn’t want it to be so, but I’ve encountered plenty who take his word on anything, unquestioningly, as Gospel truth, regardless of the topic or who says otherwise.

                    • We’re actually agreeing on most everything. The one difference we’ve got, that we’ve had from the beginning is what will make that third group sit up and take notice. I think it’s a forward looking attitude that is ticked off at the incompetence and wants it cleaned out, no matter the source. You seem to think that it’s pointing out the weakness of evidence of racism. I hope you’ll reconsider. I’ve fully laid out my argument why I don’t think you’re right and am willing to agree to disagree if necessary.

                    • Pete the Greek

                      I think you’re still misunderstanding me. My point in these posts was not to propose solutions, or to try to convince others of the REAL source of problems such as this, whatever it is (though, as you point out, that DOES need to be done)

                      You want to instruct the third group, I understand that. But I can’t really propose good solutions primarily because I don’t have enough info (ACTUAL VALID DATA, not assumptions, nor just a one page rant on what happened), nor info about the specific department in question. If I did have true, reliable info and/or experience with that, then I would consider proposing some solutions. Police departments, in my limited experience, are usually fairly local. Some departments may run smoothly and effectively, whereas at some it may be total amateur hour, and for different reasons. I don’t really know what the major root cause problems with the Hollywood police are.

                      My point with the ‘third group’ in this case is not so much to instruct, for reasons I just gave, but to simply prevent automatic acceptance of assumed BS just because they saw it on Mark Shea’s blog. (and yes, the way this is being presented is BS). Like I said, a VERY limited goal: Merely to point out that yes, there IS a big problem here that should be addressed, but institutional racism probably isn’t the cause. I will leave it to others who have more true, actionable data to propose solutions.

    • Petey

      i know two pretty well. one is my cousin, now retired, and the other is someone i grew up with in the neighborhood. i actually know more, but am not in touch with them as i am these two on a regular basis.

    • Does my next door neighbor count?

      • Pete the Greek

        I would say so!

  • Is there a statement or account given from the police? It would be interesting to hear what they have to say for themselves.

      • That may be only hyperbole now, but when Charles Belk funds a movie about racists cops off of the false arrest lawsuit, the regret will be real.

      • Thanks Jeff. I wish the police would give out more of the circumstances, though perhaps they can’t say. I imagine there really could be reasons for what happened, though I’m not saying there necessarily are. As it is, we’re getting a lot of information from one side and not much from the other.

        These things are hard because while individuals are free to share their side of the story, institutions are almost always restricted by privacy and ethical boundaries.

        • The only restrictions are those the agency imposes on itself. Unless juveniles or sexual-assault victims are involved, or unless there is still a criminal at large and thus a need to prevent tipping off the bad guy, there’s usually nothing to prevent a police department from saying whatever it wants about an arrest. Police even are permitted to discuss medical issues involving individuals; medical-privacy rules apply only to billing agencies (i.e., doctors and hospitals), not to law enforcement. So, the BHPD decision to say very little is a function only of its own PR calculations, not of law or ethics.

  • When I was editor of a newspaper, I did not permit such broad-brush descriptions of criminal suspects into print/post. This is why.

  • It’s just plain disappointing that there is so little attention paid to the elephant in the room. Poor police action led to a wrongful detention and a relaxation of the search for the bank robber. Whether it was racism or not is a second order problem. This mistake assisted in the escape of some bad guys because for six hours the police stopped looking for the bald black guy. They thought they already had him. They didn’t refine their description of him. They didn’t canvas the city for him. They didn’t ask around about him.

    Try stop being race obsessed and you’ll see a different sort of problem, and a more important one. Cops that are lazy about identifying suspects are cops that have a lower rate of apprehensions and convictions. This time race figured into this foul up. I am entirely dubious that it’s the root problem.

    • I’d be dubious, too — if I had evidence that the BHPD was equally quick to slap the cuffs on the first white guy whose appearance comes within 10 miles of the bare-bones description provided by a panicked bank teller.

      • Way to misrepresent what I was saying. I, first of all, care that they got the wrong guy in jail. I would care if it was an asian, a black, or a white. The race of the unjustly imprisoned man is irrelevant to me. He didn’t belong in lock up for six hours no matter what his race.

        From the commentary on this thread, it reads like most people would have as their one wish to fix this situation that the unjustly imprisoned man would be white instead of there not being anyone unjustly imprisoned. That’s just morally wrong, something that is inconsistent with Catholicism.

        If the police officers had arrested the black guy actually committing the robbery and changed nothing else, I would be perfectly happy even though nothing racially would have changed except the black guy arrested would have stayed in lockup after six hours. Does that make me a racist? Why not? I would prefer that the number of blacks incarcerated 24 hours after that robbery were one higher than actually transpired.

        Again, unjust imprisonment is the first order problem. The second order problem is that unjust imprisonment is more heavily impacting blacks. Virtually the entire thread is swallowing elephants while straining at gnats.

        • Whoa, easy there. I am largely in agreement with your premise; no need to jump down my throat.

          “Way to misrepresent what I was saying. I, first of all, care that they got the wrong guy in jail. I would care if it was an asian, a black, or a white.”

          Yes, as do we all. Stipulated.

          “The race of the unjustly imprisoned man is irrelevant to me.”

          I, too, would consider the race of an unjustly imprisoned man to be irrelevant, if I were satisfied that the reason for his unjust detention was something other than his race. If assumptions about race are at least one reason for the injustice, then I’m interested.

          “He didn’t belong in lock up for six hours no matter what his race.”

          Agreed.

          “From the commentary on this thread, it reads like most people would have as their one wish to fix this situation that the unjustly imprisoned man would be white instead of there not being anyone unjustly imprisoned.”

          I don’t get that impression. I certainly don’t believe that the way to address this particular injustice is to commit a different injustice.

          “That’s just morally wrong, something that is inconsistent with Catholicism.

          “If the police officers had arrested the black guy actually committing the robbery and changed nothing else, I would be perfectly happy even though nothing racially would have changed except the black guy arrested would have stayed in lockup after six hours. Does that make me a racist? Why not?”

          No, I don’t think it makes you racist. What matters is that the actual perpetrator of the crime is caught, not that a person of a particular race is detained.

          “I would prefer that the number of blacks incarcerated 24 hours after that robbery were one higher than actually transpired.”

          Yes, as do we all, because we want to detain the true criminal, not an innocent. I’ve not heard anyone here argue otherwise.

          “Again, unjust imprisonment is the first order problem. The second order problem is that unjust imprisonment is more heavily impacting blacks. Virtually the entire thread is swallowing elephants while straining at gnats.”

          We need to ask: Why was someone unjustly imprisoned in the first place? Because police acted on racial assumptions instead of diligent investigative work. You called it lazy policing. I agree. They were lazy in that they made assumptions about the description of a suspect.

          Which is why I said I would, like you, be willing to lay this whole sorry episode at the feet of incompetence rather than racism if there were evidence that the BHPD is equally lazy toward all of those whom they arrest. If people of all creeds and colors get caught up in the net of BHPD laziness, then we have a competence problem, not a race problem.

          But let’s suppose there is no such evidence. Then, the racial attitudes of the BHPD is not a gnat. Instead, it’s the whole reason why a man was unjustly imprisoned — and why the actual criminal got away. It’s the root cause. Fix the racial attitudes, and you 1) fix the injustice of wrongful imprisonment, which 2) increases the likelihood of apprehending the actual bad guy.

          • Nobody is saying that a tall, bald, black man did not participate in the bank robbery. That takes grossest forms of straight up racism off the table. The police should have been looking for a tall, bald, black man. They found one. It was after the initial detention where things start to go wrong.

            The original article complaint includes a bit about how the police were insufficiently nuanced as to the color of the man’s skin. Crying racism induces police to be less nuanced, not more about skin color identification. Having skin color swatches, like a pantone color guide would have inexpensively fixed this issue and in this case turned the six hour detention into a five minute detention. Creating an API for crime video to quickly flow to police and an enabling act encouraging that sort of evidence flow speed upgrade would have helped fix this.

            Adopting a guilty until proven innocent standard is generally considered unamerican. Nobody knows this more than people working the criminal justice system. Demanding that there is evidence of innocence of racism is just going to make the police more twitchy about racial matters.

            If you think increasing the twitchiness that police departments have about skin color identification is going to fix the actual problem of too vague description leading to wrongful detention instead of provoking a circling of the wagons, we can stop the conversation right here.

            My personal suspicion is that racially neutral, over-coarse screening measures are going to disproportionately impact groups that have easily identified traits and an above average rate of criminality. They’ll hit black and hispanics harder than japanese or whites. The fix is to refine the identification procedures so the disproportionate scrutiny is less often misapplied and misapplications are corrected faster. racism awareness sessions are simply not that helpful at this point.

            • You and I are coming to the same point: Remove whatever is causing the PD to make erroneous judgments about whether a person matches the best available description of a subject. If that entails color swatches and swifter access to video, etc., then bring it on.

              I am not, however, as quick to dismiss the ability – and responsibility — of police officers to check their own assumptions and to learn that when a bank teller tells them “Well, he was black, and tall, and bald,” to conclude “that’s not much to go on.” Police master much more sophisticated concepts than that; they can certainly learn that “tall, black and bald” describes a uselessly large subset of the population.

              Because part — part — of what causes the PD to make erroneous judgments about race is, well, judgment. The human part. The part that tells them, once they have a man in handcuffs, to work as quickly as possible to determine whether they’ve got the right guy. The part that can’t be outsourced to video. But, yes, by all means, let’s also provide police with tools that will help them make better judgments.

              • I’m glad to see you’re not entirely monofocused on race.

                You do seem to be blind to the reality that even a whiff of racism can be a career killer in government employment and that the accusation of racism is going to lead to two different reactions, both of which are going to act against actual change happening.

                1. circle the wagons – protecting your fellow officers from unfair job actions up to job termination and pension loss is a natural reaction and seen very frequently
                2. hang ’em out to dry – the perfumed princes up the command chain want to be seen to “do something” and will be looking for a scapegoat to take things out on.

                Both these reactions will be poison to any actual improvement happening. I’m perfectly aware that racism is real and could very well be a factor here. I am unaware of any way you can directly accuse the police of racism without triggering either or both these nasty reactions and leave us in the end with a system that is no better.

                My requirement for a successful conclusion is at the end of it all, the system gets better.

                • I don’t *think* I’m blind to it, though how would I know, right? I just don’t believe that defensiveness or scapegoating, however predictable they may be, earn the police a pass from confronting whatever condition afflicts them.

                  • And we’re right back to what’s the first order effect, an innocent man detained for six hours, charged, and from the man’s facebook wall, now having to spend money to get his arrest expunged, or racism? I care about the former no matter what the race and think that if we address that, we’ve done some real good and incidentally reduced the opportunity for racism to destructively express itself through state power. You’re pushing the latter and you’ve admitted (correctly) that defensiveness and scapegoating are predictable responses but seem to feel that we must go through the kabuki theater of racist hunting in a police department lest we give racists a pass and morally sully ourselves.

                    To me this smacks of yankee puritanism which, in this case, is simply not productive.

                    • If a cop slaps the cuffs on Suspect A, and lets him sit there for 6 hours before it occurs to someone, anyone, on the police force to check the tape to determine the accuracy of the arrest, that’s a problem under any circumstance.

                      If a cop slaps the cuffs on suspect B and it occurs immediately to the PD to check the tape, thereby springing B from custody, Suspect A has cause to ask why he received different treatment.

                      It would be logical and proper to isolate the cause of that different treatment and eliminate it so that both A and B would receive similar treatment in the future.

                      If Suspect A happens to be black, and Suspect B is white, it’s logical to examine whether racial bias is a potential cause. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but it is a proper line of inquiry, defensiveness be damned. I don’t consider my own examinations of my conscience to be a puritanical exercise; I see nothing puritanical about a public agency, especially one bestowed with the power of detention and even deadly force, examining its own conscience.

                    • You’ve brought in a huge fact not in evidence and built your entire theory on it. For your line to work, there has to be a differently treated suspect B who is of a different race. You have to establish that suspect B exists on a regular basis. It can’t just be a fluke.

                      I don’t know how to google that sort of thing up. I did find out that southern California, where Beverly Hills is, has the country’s worst bank robbery problem which leads me to suspect that they’re actually not very good at policing this sort of crime.
                      http://www.labankrobbers.org/

                      I think it’s proper to ask how long does it usually take to clear a wrongly identified bank robbery suspect. I think that if the number is very different than 6 hours (long or short) than racial follow on questions are then in order. I don’t see where that’s been done anywhere in the discussion chain from these comments all the way back to the original article. Until you get the baseline number, I don’t think that racial questioning is appropriate. I would suggest that a black Hollywood producer might not be very knowledgeable on the subject before writing that article about his own unjust detention. This isn’t to criticize him. His passion overriding his research impulse is completely understandable. That’s not true for everybody else.

                      Public agencies don’t have a conscience. Human beings have one. We’ve been examining our racial conscience in the US for decades, longer than I’ve been on the planet. In a sparse information environment like this, is it reasonable to start with the idea that the Beverly Hills police somehow skipped all that? Or is it reasonable first to ask what’s the local norm, how many standard deviations is this case off the norm, and is there a racial difference of the release time bell curve when you break the wrong ID cases down by race?

                      The puritanical bit in my mind comes from the apparent discomfort of giving the cops a “pass” even when going through the process would likely reduce the chance of real progress being made in identification and treatment of the actual problem.

                    • Yes, of course, and I acknowledged as much up front, when I said I would be happy to lay all of this off on incompetence IF I knew white suspects received the same incompetent treatment. Thus the need for inquiry.

                    • You *are* blind to how offensive you’re coming off and what the likely consequences of your approach are. Cops are never going to be professionally happy with somebody coming at them with the hope that they are incompetent.

                      I’m not happy to lay anything off on incompetence. Nothing about incompetence makes me happy. The police in question are not under any illusions that this was not their finest hour, that this wasn’t competent police work. That’s why they issued the statement they did regretting the detention.

                      The question for me is whether the incompetence is systemic, or personal and what flavor it is. I want that incompetence identified and gone, no matter what the flavor and if the flavor is racist, that’s just a minor footnote in the fix documentation.

                      Racist police work is never competent police work. The two terms have zero overlap by definition. If it were competent, it wouldn’t be racist.

                      I would like everybody with something positive to contribute figure out how to measure time to release in the case of mistaken apprehensions, and work to drive that number down, and not in a phoney baloney fake reporting number CompStat way either. That’s an approach that might get buy in from the rank and file, the chiefs, the FOP and the public. Mistakes will never entirely disappear. The time between a mistaken arrest and release will never be instantaneous. I think we probably can do better and focusing on that is the best we can hope for out of this incident.

                    • You make the argument that this is all a matter of competence to be evaluated and improved. I merely said I was “happy” to do likewise (c’mon, man, you *know* I did not mean that I would find incompetence pleasing to me) and to work on the competence issue if I could be assured that incompetence — and not racially influenced patterns of behavior — are the symptom to treat in the first place. I agree that racially biased police work is incompetent — I said so previously. But incompetent police work is not necessarily racially biased police work. So let’s determine, first, whether we’ve got a racial element to the competence equation before we start adjusting the equation, that’s all.

                    • You might want to map out our competing decision trees. Yours looks very strange and I can’t imagine anybody reacting well to it.

    • Joseph

      So… you’re saying that if the suspect was a bald, white guy, the same thing would have happened to some innocent bald, white guy walking to his car?
      Riiigggghhhhtttt.

      Race is the elephant in the room, bad policing is a secondary one… and I’m *not* a bleeding heart liberal or a Democrat.

      • Do you really feel confident defending a California police department on competence grounds after the Dorner manhunt debacle? In case you don’t remember, this is the one where two hispanic women were shot at dozens of times in their truck when the suspect was a black male. The make, model, and color of the truck were also wrong.

        Brave man.

        I don’t know what you are except, solely from your response, thoughtful, knowledgeable, and open minded are off the list of possibilities on this issue.

        • Joseph

          OK. You got me. They’ll shoot Hispanics when they’re looking for blacks as well. It’s not about race. You’re right.