Sunday, August 4, 2013

Ta-Nehisi Coates: How Can Obama Consider Appointing NYPD's Ray Kelly?

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, notes in "Raising the Wrong Profile" that as senator, Barack Obama stood firm against racial profiling. Coates is therefore baffled that President Obama is considering inviting New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to serve as the Secretary of Homeland Security. Kelly, along with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, upholds the NYPD's stop-and-frisk program, which disproportionately targets young blacks and Hispanics, the vast majority of whom are innocent when stopped:

In 2003, State Senator Barack Obama spearheaded a bill through the Illinois legislature that sought to put the clamps on racial profiling. Obama called racial profiling “morally objectionable,” “bad police practice” and a method that mainly served to “humiliate individuals and foster contempt in communities of color.”

... That is why it is hard to comprehend the thinking that compelled the flirt with the possibility of inviting the New York City Police Commissioner, Ray Kelly, the proprietor of the largest local racial profiling operation in the country, into his cabinet.

...The N.Y.P.D.’s stop-and-frisk program has been well-covered in [The New York Times] and elsewhere. It is now public knowledge that the police department, each year, stops hundreds of thousands of citizens, largely black and Latino men, for reasons as thin and subjective as “furtive movements.” Very few of those stops lead to actual charges, much less arrests, and according to the commissioner that’s fine.

...It was President Obama who so poignantly drew the direct line between himself and Trayvon Martin.

It was candidate Obama who in 2008 pledged to “ban racial profiling” on a federal level and work to have it prohibited on the state level. It was candidate Obama who told black people that if they voted they would get a new kind of politics. And it was State Senator Obama who understood that profiling was the antithesis of such politics. Those of us raising our boys in the wake of Trayvon, or beneath the eye of the Demographics Unit, cannot fathom how the president could forget this.


Michael J. Mand said...

Not that I support "Stop and Frisk" - another example of not looking at the over-arching effect of such policies and the distrust those policies create - (I don't) but appointing a police commissioner, rather than some fear-mongerer such as Rep. Peter King, as director of homeland security (a name that, in and of itself, bothers me) just might send the message that President Obama understands that we Americans have more to fear from other Americans with easy access to firearms, than we do any group of foreign terrorists. The Liberal Curmudgeon has pointed this out more than a few times.

Jeff Tone said...

True–but the choice isn't confined to King or Kelly.