A few days ago, I expressed my doubts as to whether Philando Castile was killed by police in Minnesota because he was black as has been asserted both by his girlfriend and Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.
On the other hand, there can be little doubt that five Dallas police officers are dead on account of the color of their skin and, for that matter, the color of their uniform.
With that said, it is nevertheless reasonable to ask if Castile was stopped by police in the first place because of his skin color. Over a 14-year period, Castile was stopped at least 52 times by police in the Twin Cities for various traffic violations.
How many motorists in Minnesota (much less the rest of the nation) have been pulled over 52 times in their adult life let alone over 14 years? That’s almost four times a year. If you’re pulled over that frequently, you might as well as make it part of yearly itinerary along with your doctor’s and dental appointments and doing your taxes because it will cost you just as much money. Over the years, Castile was assessed fees and fines totaling $6,588 for various traffic violations, although a majority of those charges were dismissed. It’s an awful lot of money for a school cafeteria worker to have to shell out. A 2003 study done of various law enforcement agencies in Minnesota by the Council on Crime & Justice revealed that African-Americans were pulled over 214% more than would be normally expected and when pulled over were more likely to be searched yet less likely to have contraband on their person.
But what the study doesn’t indicate is how frequently individual motorists are pulled over. The other day NRO writer David French disclosed that he is both a “habitual speeder,” has a concealed-carry permit, and has been pulled over “numerous times.” But what does French consider numerous? Five times? A dozen? Two dozen? Can French say in all honesty that he has been pulled over more than 50 times in the past 15 years?
What I would like to know is how many motorists in Minnesota have been pulled over more than 50 times? If I were in charge of commissioning such a study, I would set these parameters. I would focus on the years 2000 through 2015. I would measure the number of motorists pulled over more than 20 times and then break it down by demographics — race, age, gender, income, criminal history, and disposition of individual police encounter (i.e. guilty/non-guilty verdict, dismissal of charges, etc.). I would do the same for motorists pulled over 30 or more times, 40, 50 times to see how those numbers change.
Such a study would result in one of three conclusions. One possible conclusion is that Castile is an anomaly. In other words, he was the unluckiest motorist in the history of Minnesota. Another possibility is there are numerous drivers who have been pulled over 20, 30, 40, maybe even more 50 times and it’s possible that black and white drivers pulled over this frequently are pulled over in equal measure. But if I were to hazard a hypothesis, I am inclined to think it’s most likely that this is not the case. Simply put, the hypothesis I put forward would be: Drivers in Minnesota who are pulled over 20 or more times are more likely to be black than white. The study would either prove or disprove said the “driving while black” phenomenon.
The question has been raised (by Jeffrey Lord among others) as to whether Philando Castile was either suspected of or wanted for armed robbery as alleged by the Conservative Tree House website and hotly disputed by snopes.com.
Let us assume for argument’s sake that Castile was either suspected of or wanted for armed robbery. That in of itself doesn’t justify the use of deadly force. Nor does it explain why Castile was pulled over on 50 or so other occasions. If Castile had a predilection for committing felonies then why has his involvement with the criminal justice system have been confined to misdemeanor traffic violations?
Please don’t mistake this argument as an endorsement of the aims and objectives of Black Lives Matter. As far as I’m concerned, I agree with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani when he describes them as “inherently racist.” I equally agree with Rush Limbaugh’s characterization of Black Lives Matter as a “terrorist organization.” Black Lives Matter wants dead cops. Surely that’s what they wanted when they occupied the I-94 in Minnesota and threw bricks, rocks, and concrete at police officers, injuring 21 of them. One officer sustained a spinal fracture when he had a slab of concrete dropped on his head. When supporters of Black Lives Matter chant, “One piggly-wiggly down,” you know they do not come in peace.
But one need not subscribe to the ideology of Black Lives Matter to find something troubling about police shooting an individual who very likely posed no threat to the officer who shot him. One need not subscribe to the ideology of Black Lives Matter to find it disconcerting that Philando Castile was pulled over by police more than 50 times in less than 15 years. Yes, perhaps Castile was a really bad driver. It’s also possible he was a statistical outlier. But it’s equally possible that Castile isn’t the only driver in Minnesota who was pulled over more than 50 times over the past 15 years. If that’s the case, then it is also quite possible that a majority of those drivers who were pulled over that frequently were black. Of course, it’s possible that isn’t the case at all. Either way, for the sake of Minnesota’s motorists, it’s something we ought to find out.