By Alana Easterling
Listen Up Lansing Staff Reporter
What’s racism got to do with it?
Some Lansing residents aren’t convinced that racism is the culprit behind the occurring cases of deaths in violent police crimes, including a recent pair of incidents in Louisiana and Minnesota, respectively, where police shot and killed black men, one who was selling CDs and another during a traffic stop.
“I know race is supposed to be involved. That’s what they’re saying.” said Mary Anderson, a cashier at a Lansing Speedway. She was asked if she believed racism had anything to do with the recent shootings.
Anderson does admit racism still exists, but doesn’t put the blame on it for the reason for murders by the police. Instead Anderson blames it on the bad rep police have.
“I just have a hard time believing that. I mean, I know there are still racist people, but what would that have to do with them killing someone?” she said. “I think there’s more to the case we just don’t know about. Police have bad reps anyways, and I think people like to use that as a reason to pin racism on them in these cases.”
“Not only do police have bad reps, but I think people now-a-days are giving police a hard time in general simply because of all of this stuff, like they’re trying to get back at them or something,” added Sophie Clark, Anderson’s co-worker.
Robert Merritt, the Lansing Police Department’s public information officer, who has been with the force for about 26 years, agrees that people shouldn’t jump to conclusions about what’s going on.
“Both cases are in the early stages of the investigation. Without having the entire investigation and facts, it’s a bit too premature to make comments or judgement,” said Merritt. “I along with the entire world have watched short brief moments on video on both cases and listened to the media and citizens opinions. We as a society have to let the investigation play out and take in all of the facts prior to making rash judgements.”
But Joe Darden, an urban geography professor at Michigan State University who studies race issues in cities says the way groups of people are treated by police correlates with where they reside.
“No matter where they live, if they are black, they will have a higher probability of unequal treatment,” said Darden. “Blacks who live in areas of concentrated poverty are those who experience the worst treatment from police because of both race and class.”