Politifact Misses Story of the Year

In my previous column I discussed one such incident in Chicago, in which a drug dealer who was choking an officer was subdued when a second officer kicked him in the head. The outrage that followed was directed not at the recently paroled drug dealer but rather at the officer who kicked him; he remains on desk duty despite the fact that no one in the Chicago Police Department can point to a regulation he violated. Thus it should come as no surprise that police officers in Chicago are becoming ever more circumspect in their enforcement efforts, and that not a day goes by that the Chicago Tribune doesn’t run a story like this one, chronicling the latest wave of death and mayhem.

And now comes the latest blow, this from a member of the over-educated elite who happens to sit on the Supreme Court. Last week, the Court upheld the conviction of a Utah man who, when stopped by police without the required reasonable suspicion, was nonetheless found to have an outstanding warrant. When arrested for that warrant, he was found in possession of methamphetamine. In a 4-3 vote, the Court ruled, in Utah v. Strieff (PDF), that the discovery of the warrant provided sufficient “attenuation” between the unlawful stop and the finding of the drugs.

I will not go so far as to say that the dissenters, Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor, have no grounds for their argument. Indeed, much of Sotomayor’s written opinion is sound, though as a police officer I am gratified it expresses a minority view. But rather than rest her argument on legal precedent, Sotomayor went on, in Part IV of her opinion, to engage in reasoning right out of the Black Lives Matter handbook. She goes so far as to invoke “the talk,” i.e., the cautionary tales passed from black and brown parents to their offspring: “instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger—all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them.”

Justice Sotomayor writes of police officers like a woman who hasn’t met many. In Chicago and elsewhere, it is not the cop’s gun that black and brown people must fear, it is the one wielded by some black or brown person lacking moral guidance in how to use it. And if she is aware of the other “talk” black and brown parents should give their children but too often do not – don’t join a gang; don’t steal; don’t sell drugs; and if you do these things and are caught, don’t fight with the police – she makes no mention of it in her opinion.

So now we know what the Wise Latina thinks of America’s police officers. May she always be in the minority.

(Artwork created using multiple Shutterstock.com images.)