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.
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