Do Police Race Disparities Suggest “Hundreds Of Potential Fergusons”?


What happened in Ferguson could happen elsewhere in in the U.S., says the Christian Science Monitor. That's the message from experts on race relations and from an analysis of census data after the killing of Michael Brown and resulting protests. Ferguson may be an extreme example, but it's part of a larger pattern in which many communities have police forces that don't come close to mirroring the racial composition of the populations they serve.

How many “other Fergusons” are there in America? To some extent, that's a question answered only under the stress of events. Numbers tracked by the Census Bureau hint at stark racial imbalances that persist. “I would argue that there are hundreds of potential Fergusons throughout the United States,” says Matthew Whitaker, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at Arizona State University. “It only takes a gunshot or a death for these simmering feelings to emerge.” From Ann Arbor, Mi., to Roanoke, Va., some metro areas have no black police officers, even though blacks account for 10 percent or more of their populations. Even in the many metro areas where racial imbalances aren't so visible, African Americans are generally concerned about things such as racial bias in policing and criminal justice.

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