- The Washington Times - Friday, August 17, 2001

Dramatic increases in violent crime are occurring in several major urban areas since they were targeted by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in its campaign on police conduct. In Cincinnati, Ohio, and Prince George's County, Maryland, police admit holding back their law enforcement activities for fear of being branded as racists.
As crime and violence in those areas skyrockets, the question must be asked, to what extent is the NAACP responsible in part for this upsurge? Are poor blacks, who are victims of the lawlessness, being destroyed by the organization's "helping hand?"
In the aftermath of riots in Cincinnati spurred by the killing of a black man by a white police officer, crime is breaking records. There have been a total of 74 shootings leaving 86 people wounded or killed, compared with nine shootings and 11 victims for the same period last year. What has accounted for an 800 percent jump in violence in Cincinnati? According to the police, they have been holding back in black neighborhoods. They have decided that the risks of being pilloried as racists are so great, that they have pulled back in a process that can be clearly defined as police nullification.
Although Cincinnati's situation is dramatic, it is not unique. In Los Angeles, gang activity and violence is sharply increasing after the dismantling of a police gang unit in the wake of racist accusations. After the NAACP, Al Sharpton and other racial protestors targeted police in New York City and Hartford, Conn., the outcome was the same — less police activity and more crime.
The NAACP's dogged insistence that the biggest challenge faced by blacks is racial profiling and police brutality is producing a general pattern of police nullification.
In Prince George's County, 61 people were killed in the first seven months of the year, compared with only 71 during all of last year. Carjackings have nearly doubled and robberies are up 37 percent. The county police reportedly are participating in an informal "slowdown," staying in their cruisers and responding only to emergency 911 calls. Their reported philosophy, "No contact, no complaints."
Who suffers as a consequence? Not the sons and daughters of the Kweisi Mfumes or any of the local leaders on the forefront of the protest movement. It is the sons and daughters of those low-income people who live in the high-crime areas who are most in need of protection. It is they who bear the cost of police vilification and police nullification. The so-called advocates for justice have ended up injuring most the very people they purport to represent.
This is not to deny that the police in many instances do engage in excessive force, and they should be held accountable. But there must be more fairness toward the police and balance in assessing blame for incidents that occur, rather than rushing to judgment and condemning the entire department as too many civil rights leaders do when the police officer is white and the person on the other side is black.
When blacks are the victims of violent attacks by other blacks, police protection is demanded. Whenever there is an unsolved homicide of a black, particularly a black woman, the complaint is that the "racist" police aren't doing their job. If, on the other hand, the police are aggressive in their patrols, resulting in an increase in arrests, they are criticized for targeting blacks.
Residents of low-income neighborhoods call for more police presence, more enforcement by the criminal justice system, and stricter penalties for crimes. Middle-income blacks who do not live in these neighborhoods are moving the system toward nullification, saying it is racist to arrest blacks, much less convict, sentence and incarcerate them, even when they are proven to be guilty.
In the pre-civil rights South, police nullification meant that the criminal justice system looked the other way when a black killed another black, although the slightest insult to a white by a black brought swift and harsh punishment.
Now nullification is occurring because the police are afraid to intervene for fear of being demonized or called racist. Do we want a return to those "golden days of yesteryear?"

Robert L. Woodson Sr. is president of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise.

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