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"I Don't Think It Does Race"—The Rise Of Raceless Police Suspect Sketches
In 1946, the New York Times gave the world the "raceless" perpetrator. With its decision to refuse to provide readers with the second type of information that police list about an assailant (after "sex"), the "newspaper of record" combined an implicit acknowledgement of blacks' astronomically high crime rates with proto-Political Correctness.
As is so often the case, eventually the rest of the press embraced the Times' vice—to the point where "not reporting race" is now a major VDARE.com blog category.
Some years ago, the press extended its refusal to describe "black" perpetrators to Hispanic ones. And when one media outlet failed to toe the line, and made the PC error of trying to help protect the public from heinous criminals such as Arizona's "Chandler Rapist," Spanish-language radio outfit New Radio Venture/KMYL (1190 AM) demanded that it cease and desist.
(On March 1, illegal immigrant Santana Batiz-Aceves, aka Ricardo Ramirez Lopez, aka Chaparro , aka Shorty, whose history included two deportations following drug arrests, pleaded guilty to raping five girls between 12 and 15 years of age, and was sentenced to 168 years in prison—no thanks to Hispanic chauvinist and New Radio Venture VP Mayra Nieves who had asked the police not to describe the attacker as Hispanic.)
Periodically, I check into who exactly is responsible for not reporting an assailant's race. Usually, the police will give the full description they received from victims and/or witnesses, and the newspaper or TV news censors it. For example, this was the pattern in Seattle's "Tuba Man" and James Paroline racial murders and with the Choral Society of Durham, NC burglar.
Until now, the only time that I have been able to catch police deliberately misleading the public about an as yet unsolved black-on-white crime was in the case of the racist, black homosexual Baytown, TX serial kidnapper-rapist.
Baytown PD Lt. Richard Whitaker claimed that there was no profile common to the victims—when in fact he knew that the kidnapper-rapist (the since convicted and imprisoned Keith Hill) was targeting smallish, frail-looking white men between 18 and 21 years of age, who were living at home with their parents, and whom he would stalk for weeks at a time.
Which brings us to the June 4 robbery and rape that were allegedly committed in Charlotte, North Carolina, and reported later that day on the Charlotte Observer's Web site. [Woman robbed, sexually assaulted in residence by Steve Lyttle and Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Charlotte Observer, June 4, 2010.]
The story, which suggested that the rape had accompanied a rip-off of drug dealers, was accompanied by three revolving composite police sketches of the assailants. (The American Renaissance staff helpfully posted all three police composite sketches together on a line.)
"Police provided these descriptions of suspects:
"One was a dark-skinned black male, about 6-foot-2 or 6-foot-3, age 23 or 24, wearing dark clothes.
"Another was a black male, about 5-foot-10 and thin with long hair, wearing loose clothing with a shirt over his face. [Hence, the sketch's lack of a mouth.]
"The third was a black male of medium build with a round face and short hair, wearing black sunglasses and a baseball hat."[ A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words, by Thomas Jackson, Special to AR News, June 9, 2010]
As American Renaissance's Thomas Jackson remarked of assailant number one: "He looks to us more like a Martian than he does a dark-skinned black. Maybe the lighting is different in North Carolina."
I decided to find out who was responsible for sketches so at variance with the police descriptions. My first stop was the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD).
I reached CMPD spokeswoman, Officer Rosalyn Harrington.
NS: I'm calling regarding a case that was written up in the Charlotte Observer on June 4 about a woman who was robbed and sexually assaulted in her residence at the Summit Ridge Apartments on Farm Pond Lane.
Officer Harrington: Hmm.
NS: The Observer published three photographs [sic] of suspects, and I wanted to confirm by you whether the photographs printed in the Observer were exactly as they were done up by your sketch artist.
Officer Harrington: I would assume so.
NS: Because there's something peculiar. The first one is of a male who has highly peculiar features, I would say. They look really like they were done with a computer graphic program, anyway, rather than a real sketch artist. And it says, the first one was a dark-skinned black male about 6'2" or 6'3," aged 23-24, wearing dark clothes, but when you look at the face, he looks white to me! So, I'm wondering how a sketch of a supposedly dark-skinned black male could look so pale.
[Since Officer Harrington isn't responding, I continue:]
So, I wanted to find out if that was really what came out of the CMPD, or whether it had been altered by the Observer.
Officer Harrington: I would assume that they aren't altered. [Unclear] the pictures that we provide for them. I think for the most part the sketches, or whether we use computer programming, they're not gonna actually color a face in, to make it black, or highlight a face to make it Hispanic, or Oriental, or whatever.
NS (snorting): But that would tend to make for inaccurate pictures, though.
Officer Harrington (coolly): I'm thinking that's why they put "black male" under the picture.
NS (snorting): O.k., well, we'll have to see. We'll have to see what shakes out with this. Thank you very much for your time.
Observer reporter Cleve R. Wootson Jr., who had co-authored the story with Steve Lyttle, was kind enough to speak with me at length about the sketch issue.
NS: I'm calling regarding a story you and Steve Lyttle co-authored, in the June 4 Observer, about a rape at the Summit Ridge Apartments on Farm Pond Road….There were three composite drawings that accompanied the story. Now, I looked at the online version, so it was one of those deals where you hit an icon and it revolves to the different pictures.
I wanted to determine if the three images that you printed in the story appeared in the story exactly as they came from the CMPD.
Cleve R. Wootson Jr.: Yes.
NS: They did.
Wootson: They sent an electronic file, and we put the electronic file into the story. I mean, the only thing that's different is the [fonts?].
NS: Alright. The reason I asked was, the descriptions are—for the first suspect it says, "a dark-skinned black male" but when I look at the image, he looks—I'm white, and he looks about as pale as me [actually, paler].
Wootson: Yeah, and that's the weird thing about whatever the software that they used. I don't think it does race. [NS emphasis] Yeah, I don't think it makes things darker or lighter, or anything like that. But we didn't alter them, once we got them. We just put 'em up there, as it was. [unclear] But we found it a little odd, I guess….
And the thing I'm interested in [unclear], 'cause I think the software thing they use is relatively new. They've put out very few composites to it, and it may determine how we approach it in the future. If these guys are caught, how the images the police put out compare to the mug shots or whatever pictures that are taken of them. If we find that it's just totally off base or totally different or totally doesn't really do any good, we may revisit whether or not to run things like that.
You don't want to put—I mean eyewitness testimony, everybody knows about the dubiousness of that, but you don't want to put out a composite that doesn't do any good.
NS: Exactly. You could end up with a totally innocent guy getting shot or something.
Wootson: Shot, or apprehended, or fingered, or put in jail.
Americans are now used to seeing the MSM effectively covering up for black and Hispanic criminals. But this time the reporters were the good guys. The police were the problem.
After some 40 years of affirmative action in law enforcement, and buffeted by the media-generated racial profiling myth, police are becoming increasingly Politically Correct.
For instance in 1974, when a black reporter sought to intimidate white San Francisco Police Department Chief Donald Scott by challenging him as to why police were only questioning black men in the "Zebra Murders" case, Chief Scott simply stated the obvious: The suspects were all black. But today, stating the obvious can be career suicide for a police chief, as in the case of Col. Carl A. Williams who lost his job as the head of the New Jersey State Police for saying that the drug trade was mostly handled by minorities. And after he has spoken the truth, and been cashiered, the politician who fired him will accuse him of having "damaged the credibility" of law enforcement!
Today's law enforcement agencies are not only overrun with blacks, Hispanics, and women who are intellectually, and/or morally, and/or physically unfit for the job, but also with racially sycophantic whites. With "the thin blue line" that separates urbanized, bureaucratized civilization from anarchy substantially blurred or erased, and external and internal pressure against crime-fighting having led to "de-policing," police departments are often more concerned with policing impressions than with policing the streets.
A department wasting precious funds on a composite sketch computer software that "doesn't do race" is an extension of that Keystone Kops atmosphere.
Many white police officials today are primarily concerned with protecting themselves against charges of "racial profiling." But no matter how many whites law enforcement officials sacrifice, their racial pandering will win no hearts or minds among their black, Hispanic, and white leftist and libertarian enemies.
Police may respond to crime, including murder, with ever more statistical legerdemain—on the west coast see LAPD's public database omits nearly 40% of this year's crimes, by Ben Welsh and Doug Smith, Los Angeles Times, July 09, 2009, on the east coast see These Stats Are a Crime, By Paul Moses, Village Voice, October 25, 2005. But this, rather than fooling the public, will merely cause people who previously supported the police to turn on them.
Police sketches, along with truthful descriptions of alleged assailants, don't merely make catching criminals easier—the also serve a more general, yet vital social function. They let people know that two of society's most powerful institutions, the media and the police, care about them. For a society not to degenerate into nihilism and anarchy, moral distinctions must always be emphasized, and the Good Guys distinguished from the Bad Guys. Power and moral passion both abhor a vacuum.
Besides which, there's nothing wrong with hating monsters.
But when the people running powerful institutions refuse to make and to enforce moral and legal distinctions as basic as identifying alleged criminals, law-abiding citizens are overcome by anomie, rage and despair.
In the spirit of today's mild, mild Web, a Charlotte Observer editor tacked on to the rape-robbery story, "Comments have been removed because of the nature of this story."
(For more on how affirmative action/diversity has hurt policing, see my chapter on crime in the NPI report that I edited, and co-wrote with economist and VDARE.com contributor Edwin S. Rubenstein and historian Robert J. Stove: The State of White America-2007.)
Nicholas Stix [email him] lives in New York City, which he views from the perspective of its public transport system, experienced in his career as an educator. His weekly column appears at Men's News Daily and many other Web sites. He has also written for Middle American News, the New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Chronicles, Ideas on Liberty and the Weekly Standard. He maintains two blogs: A Different Drummer and Nicholas Stix, Uncensored.