Over the years high-profile shootings involving the NYPD and unarmed black men like Patrick Dorismond, Amadou Diallo, and Sean Bell have earned the department a bad reputation. Post-1998, the department simply decided to stop releasing the data showing racial breakdowns of people who had been shot by the NYPD, although it did continue to record the breeds of dogs who met untimely ends at the hands of New York police.
In August of 2008, the New York Civil Liberties Union sued the NYPD for racial data about police shooting victims after the NYPD refused hand the information over willingly. Eventually the department agreed to give up the information about people who were shot by police officers between 1997 and 2006 -- but they didn't provide the information about people had been shot at but not ultimately hit. Yesterday, New York Supreme Court Judge Joan A. Madden ordered the NYPD to hand the latter data over.
Although the NYPD's decision to stop disclosing the racial data about who it was shooting predates the election of Barack Obama by about a decade, it strikes me as the perfect post-racial move -- the ultimate in colorblind racism: Simply stop paying attention to race, and it doesn't matter how disproportionate or devastating the outcomes are, race isn't a factor. After all, they weren't even paying attention to it, right?
-- A. Serwer
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