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Racism and the Hilltop Crips

Post by Patrick O'Callahan on April 22, 2010 at 7:49 pm with 4 Comments »
April 22, 2010 6:03 pm

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The issue of race still shadows the arrests of 36 men now charged with criminal conspiracy as members of the Hilltop Crips. Tuesday’s demonstration on their behalf again put that issue front and center.

Despite suggestions that the small demonstration represents “the black community,” there’s no evidence that it reflects the views of a majority or even a large minority of Tacoma’s African Americans. But many blacks do have concerns about the racial dimensions of the case – some simply because they know the public is seeing the faces of so many black suspects associated with a single violent enterprise.

Tarring an entire race or class of people with the misconduct of individuals is the essence of bigotry. Blacks in America have endured humiliation by association for four hundred years. Their raw nerves are understandable. Under the white hoods of their Internet pseudonyms, vile racists have indeed been linking the Hilltop Crips to the black community at large.

But nobody has offered serious evidence that the sweep that targeted these suspects was racially motivated. The fact that the defendants are black reflects a hard-to-miss fact about street gangs: They tend to sort themselves out along racial and ethnic lines.

Some of today’s gangs look largely black, white, Latino, Asian, etc. Farther back in the country’s history, there were Irish, English, Chinese and Jewish gangs. Gangs tend to form in cities among marginalized ethnic groups; that’s sociology, not a fantasy of bigots.

As it happens, the Hilltop Crips are a black gang. As it happens, an informant inside the gang came forward with detailed accounts of the Crips’ activities. As it happens, a combined task force of federal, state and local investigators concluded that the Hilltop Crips were the most dangerous gang on Tacoma’s streets.

If the investigators were right, this operation was superb law enforcement, not a scheme to lock up as many innocent black men as they could lay their hands on. Dismantling the Hilltop Crips would make life safer for law-abiding Tacomans of all races.

It may sound terminally naïve to some, but we trust the motives behind this operation. Individual racists can be found on any large police force, but we’ve seen no evidence that racial malice drives command decisions in the agencies that targeted the Crips – the Tacoma or Lakewood police departments, the Washington State Patrol and Department of Corrections, the FBI and federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

And speaking of naivete, how about the flyers distributed by supporters of the defendants, which described them as kind, generous souls “trying to rebuild their characters in our community”? Given the long string of violent felonies these suspects are accused of, we think the question of their character is best answered in a court of law.

Leave a comment Comments → 4
  1. geeterpontiac says:

    I agree with this editorial.

    This gang was simply a gang of black people and gangs often tend to be made up along ethic, location, or racial lines.

    I see no indication there was a racist agenda by police or other law enforcement groups.

    Black people and others living in that community are safer tonight with these people off the street, and especially young kids who will be protected from this join the gang mentality. For parents with children, this should be a no brainer. Your children are safer tonight and the prospects for a better future are improved.

    The only sign of racism I see is that displayed by people attempting to gain symphathy for these thugs by making an issue out of their being black.

  2. missmonique98 says:

    The promblem is not all of these men aren’t terrorizing communities like you’ve been lead to believe. If so then why has it been this long and the state is just now ordered to say what these men are being accused of. Detective Ringer says he has no intimidating complains agianist him but he does have harrasment and no contact order complaints. These men remember Ringer not as being a fair officer that arrested them for a crime but for beating them up when they were kids and teenagers. I know for a fact that some of those men are innocent. I see them struggle everyday to make a legal way for there families. This is a tatic for this election year and I am pissed that my tax dollars go to harrasing people of any race. In the end I can only pray justice is served. All the things that have happened in history how come people can’t believe what is happening. People who killed people I love have been white maybe I should accuse all white people of conspiring to kill them.

  3. Acumensch says:

    How can people who write these articles pass as intelligent in any meaningful sense?

    Let me spell it out for all your “educated” writers…. and the impressive wingnutty trolls your website is renowned for….

    The argument is that the conspiracy charges themselves are racist because they are only used against hispanic and black gangs. It’s somehow a conspiracy to be in this gang, but it’s not a conspiracy to be in any white supremacist gang. It’s also not a “conspiracy” to be a member of the police force or any other state organization which conspires against our communities. Racism by another name is hypocrisy in this case.

    In reality your newspaper is another outlet for this kind of apathetic racism that is inherent in the justice system, inherent in the society. It’s not that individual pigs are racists who target the black community every day, but that the entire organization is a bastion of racism. Every day they set out to colonize that community. You and all the rest of your maggot journalist friends who know nothing of the social war happening around you are the real expressions of “naivete”. The police exist to protect the apathetic rich like yourself from everyone you exploit. Even with this foul newspaper you exploit the society you take advantage of — your newspaper exists to encourage the police and this consumerist and racist society.

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