Wednesday, July 12, 2006

News From D.C.

I haven't blogged in a while, but I wanted to flesh out some ideas so I thought I might tackle them here.

DC has a mini crime wave going on.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey reacted yesterday to a recent surge in homicides by declaring a "crime emergency," a move that gives him the freedom to quickly adjust officers' schedules and restrict their days off.

Fourteen people have been killed since July 1 in the District, in all quadrants of the city, and police are being pressured to take action by residents at community meetings and vigils to honor the dead.

The victims included a popular store owner slain at closing time, a community activist killed in a park and a British citizen whose throat was slit in Georgetown.

My best man, along with his wife and young son live about a block from where the guy was killed in Georgetown. On Monday night, two nights after the murder, police and the Ward representative held a community meeting to discuss the murder. My friend's wife attended the meeting.

Some things about this meeting:
  1. Of course they held a community meeting, involving local politicians and police, after a murder in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in DC. I'm sure they do the same thing in SE whenever someone is killed there.
  2. from WaPo,

The declaration [crime emergency] came on the same day that Ramsey transferred a police official who was accused of making a racially insensitive remark at a community meeting Monday night in Georgetown. Ramsey temporarily reassigned Inspector Andy Solberg, who urged residents to report suspicious activity and said, "This is not a racial thing to say that black people are unusual in Georgetown.”


About 400 people crowded into a church in Georgetown on Monday night to discuss the Senitt killing. Solberg, the commander of the 2nd Police District, was addressing that forum when he made his remarks about race. Senitt was white, and the suspects in the case are black.

When he made the comment, Solberg was telling the crowd to report suspicious-looking people to police when they see them in the neighborhood. He talked about the suspects in the Senitt killing and described one as a "chubby, stocky guy" and one as a 15-year-old. He said at 2 a.m. they "are going to stand out" in the area.

"They were black," Solberg said. "This is not a racial thing to say that black people are unusual in Georgetown. This is a fact of life."

Now I know my friend, who I am curing of his Republicanism more and more every day, is going to have an opinion on this and I think he'll argue that the officer was correct and that his suspension is nothing more than political correctness. I think he'll say something like, "Sure there are some black people in Georgetown, but not as many as white people, so what's the problem?"

I thought of this analogy, which by the way, is perfectly constructed for Shannon to understand.

I would posit that most rappers are black. I'm not totally sure, but I would bet that is the case. If I made the comment that 50 Cent was a really great black rapper, that would be a wierd thing to say, even though it might be true. The point is that any mention of race is a racist comment if the mention of race is not material to the discussion. So "50 Cent is a great black rapper" is a racist comment because the fact that he is black isn't at issue.

In the Georgetown incident, apparently the couple was digging in their trunk when they were attacked. So the police shouldn't be saying, "Watch out for black people." They should be saying, "Watch out. For people." So in that sense, it is a racist comment.

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