TRENDING NEWS:  Saturday Dec 6th, 2014

Do Police Ignore White Crime?#CrimingWhileWhite, #ICantBreathe dominate Twitter talk in Eric Garner case

By Wilfred Chan, CNN

(CNN) -- If you're white, you may be able to shoplift, drive drunk, even shove a police officer -- and not suffer the same consequences a black person might, according to trending stories being shared on social media.

#CrimingWhileWhite became Twitter's highest trending topic in the United States and a trending topic worldwide as protests continued Thursday morning over a New York grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner, a black man suspected of illegally selling cigarettes on the sidewalk.

Garner's case also catapulted other hashtags into prominence in the Twitterverse, including #ICantBreathe, a reference to Garner's last words.

An attempt by the New York Police Department to acknowledge the anger also generated a storm online. The department said on Twitter that it wanted to rebuild public trust, in a post that included #wehearyou.

That backfired.

Meanwhile, many people identifying themselves as white posted tweets confessing to crimes they said they committed without getting punished. Each specific account could not be verified independently and immediately. Taken as a whole, however, they paint a portrait that suggests a racial double standard by American law enforcement.

"I shoplifted when I was 14 and they let me go because my parents came down and we 'looked like a nice family,'" wrote Joel Watson, a cartoonist.

Allison Brown, an editor, tweeted "Tonight, black protester & I both ignore barricade & walk in street. 4 cops pounce on him; I'm told to get in the pen."

Artist Jeremy Scheuch confessed, "I'm not proud of it, but when I was 22 I pushed a cop when I was drunk at a bar. I was told to go home and 'sleep it off.'"

"When I see police, I feel safe, served, and protected," commentedwriter Kyran Pittman. "That shouldn't be a privilege, but #CrimingWhileWhite shows that it is."

On Twitter, black users had mixed reactions.

"Are white ppl openly acknowledging white privilege on police interactions or am I dreaming?" asked blogger and researcher Maya Reid.

"Some of you have pointed out that #CrimingWhileWhite helps other White folks realize policing isn't fair. My heart still hurts," said writer Elon James White.

"I just hope people contributing to #CrimingWhileWhite are vocal about these disparities offline. Great, you're trending but we need action," tweeted Franchesca Ramsey, a curator at Upworthy.

Unequal treatment

The anecdotes are backed by evidence that suggests racial disparities in American law enforcement are very real.

Studies show that for an identical crime, black teenagers are more likely to be arrested or jailed than white teenagers. Black people are around four times as likely to get arrested for marijuana possession, despite surveys showing black people use marijuana less than white people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In Ferguson, where protests have continued over the shooting death of unarmed black teen Michael Brown, official reports show black people being pulled over, searched, and arrested at disproportionately high rates compared to their share of the population. An ACLU study found a similar imbalance in Boston, where two-thirds of police stops involved black residents -- despite black people making up just one-quarter of the city's population.

Even after being convicted of a crime, being white may still hold advantages. A Princeton University study examined hundreds of American employers' hiring and found that white people with felony convictions were preferred as much as black people with clean backgrounds.

Headlines from Saturday, Dec 6th

Comment Stream

3 years ago

All lives matter but committing crimes, putting yourself on display while committing crimes is against the law, in case some of you idiots, didn't notice. There are racist cops out there but I would say the majority of cops chose to be cops to serve and protect. If you chose to commit crimes, don't say that you are being profiled because you are black. The cops are after criminals. If you are black and commit robbery, go up to a policemans car and try to take his/her gun from them; you are essentially asking for a whole lot of trouble. Stop playing the "race" card. Own up to your own mistakes. If you don't want to get shot at by a cop, stop committing crimes. Period. All of you who are protesting that Michael Brown was innocent and was shot by a cop, stop protecting each other for the bad things that ya'll do. Stop going into business establishments, stealing, breaking things, pushing people around, holding them by the throat as you push on them to exit their store. The few good people left in Ferguson, Missouri, I am pretty sure are sick of being bullied by all of the idiots committing crimes. I seriously don't understand how most of the people there think that this is okay to do. Blacks are being profiled because ya'll are the ones doing ,it's of the crimes. Stop blaming white people for your own actions. Go to school, get educated, have the decency to act like a normal law abiding citizen. It is as simple as this, people. You have two choices in life. Obey the law to stay out of jail. Or, you can act like Michael Brown......get the cops called on you, disobey what they tell you, fight and resist, act a fool, get shot at and possibly lose your life. Everyone has a choice to make. Just because you are are black, doesn't give you a free pass to commit crimes. Be smart, make good choices in life, because you only get one life to live. Chose unwisely and you just may end up dead like Michael Brown.

3 years ago


3 years ago

AMEN that is true just because there a different color doesn't mean they don't belong with everyone else I'm white and I have a LOT of black friends