They were called the “worst of the worst” by local officials. The 32 men who were arrested for drug crimes by officers in North Carolina’s regional neighbor of Tennessee were shamed by having their photographs published on the front page of the local newspaper. This all seems like a valiant effort to clean up the streets – but there was an interesting twist for the residents of Chattanooga.
All of the “worst of the worst” shared a single characteristic. They were African American.
This situation reveals growing concerns from black communities that area law enforcement officers are more racially motivated than they would like to publicly admit. In fact, among the 32 alleged criminals who were arrested and vilified in the newspaper, only a single race was represented. As a consequence, these drug charges and crackdowns are now being characterized as “slave roundups” that focus only on the missteps of a single community. Officials confess that there is a noticeable racial bias related to both drug and violent crimes in the region; only one of 63 shooting suspects from 2013 was white.
Further, although allegations exist that African American communities alone maintain “codes of silence” that prevent talking to police, black leaders in the area maintain that white communities are no better. In fact, the idea that minority communities are targeted should not be blamed on this so-called “code of silence,” but on the fact that officers simply focus on the misdeeds of African Americans instead of white residents. Instead of criminalizing black communities, a growing number of activists say that social change will be required to reduce the number of drug charges in minority communities. Law enforcement alone is not the answer to these criminal problems, and front-page shaming does little to improve race relations.
Minority offenders who have been unfairly targeted may benefit from the assistance of a qualified North Carolina defense attorney. Those professionals can help North Carolina defendants learn more about the drug charges they face, educating them about their options and legal rights in court. Minorities should not be unfairly targeted for drug charges simply because of the color of their skin.
Source: WND.com, “Crime crackdown compared to slave roundup” Colin Flaherty, Dec. 27, 2013