PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Anthony Mazzarelli: Whether it be, the shooting of Tamir Rice, the rulings in the Michael Brown and Eric Garner deaths or the death of University of Southern Alabama Freshman Gilbert Collar, barely a day goes by where there is not a race related story in the news, especially ones that have to do with our criminal justice system.
La Salle Criminal Justice and Race Relations Professor, Dr. Charles Gallagher talked with WPHT host Anthony Mazzarelli about the issues that our country is plagued by with regards to the issue of race, and he says how it all starts with people being stereotyped.
“If you look at the polling data, most white Americans harbor stereotypes about blacks, specifically black men. Most black men are viewed with suspicion to start, they are judged to be criminal unless they can demonstrate to be otherwise. If you start with that premise, when you have an interaction with someone it’s going to be one where there’s a power dynamic and one that is operating on stereotypes. Police are not immune to this. We all have stereotypes because we are human. But when you’re in positions where you have power and you re representing the state, and its legitimate authority that power can be used in ways that really are problematic.”
Gallagher explained to WPHT’s Anthony Mazzarelli what he feels is the core problem behind situations such as with Eric Garner.
“When you have policies in place that say ‘we want a quality of life that basically gets any kind of petty crime off the streets and were going to engage in harassment and profiling constantly,’ you’re going to have escalations like this.”
He concludes that what this all comes down to is how differently people of different races are treated in the criminal justice system and the court of public opinion.
“We cut officers more slack when we are dealing with folks that are black because the suggestion is these folks are probably doing something criminal anyway. There are many indicators at every juncture within the criminal justice system that blacks are treated differently. There are so many different studies that look at bias, that look at sentencing, that look at different treatment. All of these things are monotonically pointing the same direction, that if you’re brown or black in the United States you’re looked at differently, you’re treated differently and the outcomes are different.”