LeDuff: More white people than black people are killed by police … But what kind of white people?

Joshua Grubb, a 30-year-old white man, was being questioned this March for suspicion of drunk driving. Grubb started his pick-up and drove off. The cop jumped in the bed of the truck, ordered him to stop before shooting him multiple times through the rear window. The Tennessee man died. The officer was not charged.

Deven Guilford, an unarmed white teenager, was pulled over in Michigan last year for flashing his high beams at an oncoming car. In that car was a police officer. Guilford was ordered to the ground. He complied before things turned physical. Guilford died in a snowy ditch suffering seven gunshot wounds. His death was determined to be justifiable.

Dylan Noble, another white teenager, was pulled over last month in Fresno, CA. Police say he made a motion toward his waistband and, fearing for their lives, shot Nobel twice. With Nobel lying on the ground, an officer approaches and commands, "Keep your hands up." Nobel is shot. Seconds later, another cop shoots. Noble's family wonders why his killing gets no media attention.

The list goes on.

In all of these cases, the victim was unarmed.

In all of these cases, there was horrific video footage.

But why did none of these cases explode into the national consciousness like those of black victims Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO; Laquan McDonald in Chicago; and now Philando Castile in Minnesota and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, LA?

Has race become a ratings factor in cases like these? Does the public care? The fact of the matter is twice as many whites (494) than blacks (258) died at the hands of police last year, according to the Pulitzer-Prize winning database compiled by reporters at the Washington Post. (Unbelievably, the federal government does not require America's policing agencies to report incidents of deadly force.)

And now, a new study by a Harvard economist shows that while black people are more likely to be physically touched and handcuffed by police, there is no racial bias when it comes to the use of lethal force.

Read: blacks and Latinos are more likely than whites to be touched by police, but not more likely to be killed.

"It is the most surprising result of my career," said the economist, Roland G. Fryer Jr. - a black man.

Without doubt - by any statistical measure or quality of life category - blacks suffer more than whites. And it's also worth remembering that white are five times the population than blacks. That means, blacks are 2 ½ times more likely to be shot by police when adjusting for their proportion of the population. Seeing as there are two separate white societies in America, we should ask ourselves what kind of whites get shot?  

One is the privileged whites. The monied whites. The college-educated whites. The political and business and media class whites. Those connected to centers of influence and power.

Then there are the underprivileged whites. The poor whites. The working whites. The truckers and roofers. These whites are paid little mind by the privileged whites, who control the airwaves and the printing presses. In these corners of America, they too fear the police. They too are told to "comply."

One would suspect without too much statistical calisthenics that a large majority of the whites who die at the hands of police come from the shabbier side of the tracks. Little analysis has been done in this regard. But studies do show that people - regardless of race - are more violent the poorer they are. The more violent or rowdy you are, the more contact you'll likely have with police, says Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department. 

And the treatment is different. Rich guys can afford lawyers; poor guys get public defenders. Cops know that. When looked at this way, the numbers start to even out.

Are we to believe that every police shooting of a white person is legitimate? Is this an oversight by the media, or does the privileged white class think somehow working class whites deserve it since race is not a factor and they "should know better?" Maybe white working class America has something in common with black America.

I do not wish to dilute or diminish the complaints and demands of the Black Lives Matter movement -Philando Castile was stopped 52 times by police in Minnesota over a 14-year period before the world watched him die live on Facebook. Fifty-two times and never a felony conviction. Driving while black.

Nor do I wish to engage in a needle-in-the-haystack hunt for bad cops. The country is coming off the rails and we're asking the police to put the train back on the tracks. The jails are full, the mental hospitals are closed, the schools are collapsing and people are hungry. We ask cops -- working class people -- to do more but in the meantime we slash police training, budgets and staffing. And now Dallas.

As far as police reform goes, the Black Lives Matter movement might find a natural ally in the trailer parks, apartment blocks and the blue-collar cul-de-sacs across the country. The only thing needed from these corners of white America is leadership.


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