The 'Ferguson Effect' Spreads

An Alabama cop put in the hospital by a black felon admits he choked because he didn't want to be called racist.

A white police officer in the South who was recently beaten bloody and unconscious by a black suspect now admits he failed to defend himself properly because he was afraid if he used force he would have been accused of racism.

This is poignant testimony to the tremendous damage that the racist Black Lives Matter movement has inflicted on the American psyche. Nowadays police all over the country are increasingly reluctant, or in some cases outright unwilling, to perform their duties as law enforcement personnel. They know that government officials, eager to pander to loud, angry lynch mobs in the street, don’t have their back. The mainstream media has been playing a supporting role, turning every police shooting of a person of color into a cause célèbre, regardless of the circumstances leading to the shooting. So cops are taking unnecessary chances, ignoring police safety protocols and giving suspects the benefit of the doubt when it is not warranted.

This is the war on police that President Obama, Al Sharpton, and other racial agitators have carefully brought to a crescendo since the Trayvon Martin saga and the case of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black thug, who was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, last year as he tried to murder white cop Darren Wilson. There has never been any credible evidence that race was a factor in the shooting yet the Black Lives Matter crowd and the rest of the activist Left continue to lie every single day about Brown’s death. Brown tried to seize Wilson’s handgun and the officer shot him in self-defense. The popular “hands up, don’t shoot” meme was based on a lie a witness told in which it was claimed Brown tried to surrender to Wilson and was mercilessly shot in cold blood. Brown’s body was autopsied three separate times to satisfy the angry mob and legions of left-wing conspiracy theorists. Wilson has been been vindicated in every official investigation. The local grand jury refused to indict him. Even Obama’s race-obsessed, highly politicized Department of Justice cleared him. 

Yet left-wingers continue to portray Brown as an angel, and Wilson as a villain. Not surprisingly, many Americans of all colors are swallowing this leftist propaganda. Manipulated by the Community-Organizer-in-Chief, many black Americans falsely view themselves as victims of systemic discrimination. They no longer respect police and are willing to beat them senseless on a whim. The Black Lives Matter movement is there on the sidelines demanding “war” against police everywhere.

The drama in this specific case began August 7 when a plainclothes officer in Birmingham, Alabama, who has since decided to remain anonymous to protect his family, pulled 34-year-old Jenard Shamar Cunningham over for erratic driving. The detective reportedly ordered Cunningham, a felon with robbery and assault convictions, to remain inside his vehicle. Instead, the man got out of his car and became belligerent. He grabbed the officer’s handgun and pistol-whipped him with it. Cunningham fled the scene but was later arrested and charged with attempted murder. The officer was hospitalized for head and neck injuries and then sent home to recover with his family.

The officer explained to CNN his irresolute actions when dealing with the suspect.

“A lot of officers are being too cautious because of what’s going on in the media,” he said. “I hesitated because I didn’t want to be in the media like I am right now.”

Heath Boackle, a sergeant with the Birmingham Police Department, sympathizes with his colleague. Cops are “walking on eggshells because of how they’re scrutinized in the media.”

Boackle, who is also president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 1, told Fox News Channel that the situation is getting worse:

Across the country local law enforcement – state, county, municipalities – the boots-on-the-ground officers are the ones dealing with these people in day-to-day operations,’ and they’re hesitant because they’re always portrayed in the media here lately as the criminals, and the criminals are like the victims and the media is just taking it and running with it.

But the attack itself was not the only indignity the policeman suffered. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald writes at National Review Online:

Several witnesses to the beating posted photos of the bloodied, inert, and prostrate detective on social media, accompanied by celebratory gloating similar to the social-media triumphalism after two New York City police officers were assassinated last December. A typical post read: “Pistol whipped his ass to sleep,” under the hashtag #FckDaPolice.

Boackle said the cop’s wife and children saw the unofficial crime scene photos on the Internet “before the department was ever able to notify the family that [the attack] had taken place.”

The police officer’s reluctance to use reasonable force or even to make efforts to defend himself in this case is an example of what St. Louis, Missouri, police chief Sam Dotson quite properly calls the “Ferguson effect.” Police officers, particularly Caucasians, are becoming increasingly reluctant to do their jobs and follow proper police procedure when dealing with blacks because they fear their actions will be characterized as examples of race-driven police brutality. This bestows on some black Americans a kind of immunity from legal accountability, a condition David Horowitz calls “black skin privilege.” (See my recent FrontPage article, Black Skin Privilege: To Be Above the Law.)

Police officers are laying off of discretionary enforcement activity and the “criminal element is feeling empowered,” Dotson said.

Virtually everything police do is now characterized as racist as police are routinely vilified and violent attacks on them are cheered on by the Left. Police are responding by doing less policing and avoiding neighborhoods perceived as hostile to law enforcement.

As Mac Donald observes:

In Baltimore, following anti-cop riots and the indictment of six officers for the death of drug dealer Freddie Gray, arrests dropped 60 percent in May compared with arrests the previous year. In New York City, criminal summonses, a powerful gauge of proactive enforcement, were down 24 percent through July, compared with the same period the previous year; total arrests were down 16.5 percent. Arrests in Los Angeles are down 8 percent city-wide, and even further in some of the highest-crime areas. In the LAPD’s Central Division, home to the chaotic, squalid Skid Row, arrests are down 13 percent, while violent crime is up 57 percent. 

In some cities, government officials have essentially ordered police to let black criminals run wild.

During the rioting that followed the suspicious April 19 death of career criminal Freddie Gray in police custody, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D) ordered police not to enforce the law against black looters. The mayor infamously admitted after riots began that she gave space “to those who wished to destroy.”

Of course, this police slowdown is going to hurt the poor and blacks the most.

If a cop knows politicians are ready to throw him to the wolves at the first sign of trouble, and he has a choice between patrolling a crime-infested inner-city neighborhood and an a relative tranquil suburban area, guess which area won’t get patrolled.

Police are also justifiably “fearful of being caught on a cell phone video that will not show the full engagement with a resisting suspect,” Mac Donald wrote previously. “And I think that they may be backing off on discretionary policing, the low-level misdemeanor offenses. They’re still responding to 9-1-1 calls for violent felonies, but they’re backing off, and criminals are getting emboldened.”

“Any cop who uses his gun now has to worry about being indicted and losing his job and family,” a New York City cop confided in Mac Donald. 

When America’s police officers are afraid of doing their jobs, the country is in deep trouble.