Good story from Human Rights Watch
Nearly 100 years after one of the worst racial massacres in United States history, the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma remains highly segregated, with black residents living in poverty at much higher rates than white people, subjected to worse health, shorter life spans, higher crime, and aggressive policing. A series of high-profile killings of black people by police in Tulsa led Human Rights Watch researcher John Raphling to investigate police interactions with black communities. Raphling speaks with Rachel Kent about his report “Get on the Ground!” He discusses how policing and ensuing court debt subject people to humiliation and abuse, and how it fosters a devastating cycle of poverty and arrest.
Why specifically are you looking at policing in Tulsa?
The killing of Terence Crutcher, an unarmed black man, in September 2016 drew my attention to Tulsa. The killing was caught on a video that went viral. I quickly learned that the city, like so many others in the US, is highly segregated by race and poverty. Day-to-day policing in black communities, in Tulsa and elsewhere, is marked by pervasive abuse and lack of trust. I thought Tulsa could be an illustrative case study for what everyday policing looks like throughout the US. While the Crutcher and other killings drew our attention there, we really wanted to see how police treat black people and poor people in more commonplace interactions.
We analyzed a great deal of data about how police interact with people to try and understand overall patterns. What we found is that abusive policing is pervasive in Tulsa’s black communities, particularly in North Tulsa. People had stories ranging from having a loved one shot and killed, to being pulled over for no good reason and then being pulled out of the car and searched – sometimes at gunpoint.
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