Are American Police Racist?

As the result of a grand jury decision to absolve a white police offer who killed a young African-American man in a St. Louis suburb, protests have taken place in more than 170 cities in the United States, including Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. In another incident among the many that have occurred, a 12-year-old child carrying a toy pistol lost his life to another police officer in Cleveland.

Putting aside the death penalty or those people who die in prison, just knowing the fact that cases exist of innocents who are “executed” makes these police actions extremely immoral. It is interesting to study prisons to understand the effect of the penal system. To begin with, prisons seem to be an invention of the state for its own benefit, since practically all prisoners are in jail for “invented” crimes or as a result of social situations that are the result of government action.

Comprising 4.4 percent of the world’s population, 22 percent of all prisoners in the world are located in the United States; 2.23 million people, or in other words, 707 prisoners for every 100,000 people, which is proportionately higher than China. In the United Kingdom, there are 148 inmates for every 100,000 persons.

Some 46 percent of prisoners in the United States are incarcerated for drug-related crime. In other words, from the beginning, half of the inmates are in prison for crimes “invented” by the government since it decided to confront the “war on drugs,” which now entails more deaths than the Vietnam War and considerably more than those wars caused by drugs themselves. Nevertheless, the United States remains the country that is the greatest consumer of narcotics. Similarly, it is estimated that the other half of U.S. prisoners are incarcerated for crimes including possession of contraband or tax evasion, crimes that are a result of situations created by the government, such as social marginalization.

Indeed, while there is a lot that needs to be done (housing, hospitals, schools …) there remains unemployment as a result of the government using the crime wave as an excuse to restrict work opportunity, such as when the government forces people to work at minimum wage and prevents those who would earn less from working altogether. And poverty is firmly rooted in the tax structure, since the wealthy depress taxes by raising prices and lowering salaries. It would appear that in the United States there exists a “state crony capitalism,” meaning that the government charges high taxes that impoverish the most poor and are used for projects, like airports, that the poor do not use, and to maintain a police, penal and prison system that sustains that arrangement.

Practically every investigation has accused the U.S. prison system of racism. The average number of African-Americans in prison has reached 3,023 persons per 100,000 residents, and the number of Hispanics has reached 1,238 per 100,000 Latino residents. At the same time, the white population in prison has reached 478 persons for each 100,000 white residents, despite the fact that whites, blacks and Latinos have comparable levels of drug use, according to an investigation by the University of California at Berkeley.

In short, I don’t know if it can be called racism, but definitely this kind of “crony capitalism” (which is a crisis resembling the Cuban tyranny, where the political party owns all and the citizens are its slaves) is discriminatory because it provokes marginalization and consequently, crime and the criminalization of people, particularly the poorest, since the wealthy can, among other things, adequately bribe public servants.

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