FBI Director James Comey Calls Racism Common Sense
A few days ago, FBI Director James Comey got some attention when he told an audience at the University of Chicago law school that protests against racist discrimination by police have led to a spike in crime in many cities. Anti-racism protesters with video cameras have “officers reluctant to get out of their cars and do the work that controls violent crime,” Comey said, because they’re afraid that they’ll get in trouble for aggressively dealing with people engaged in criminal behavior.
These statements confused many people, because they suggest that Comey believes that police can only control criminal behavior by breaking the law themselves. After all, police who follow the law in the way they deal with suspected criminals have nothing at all to fear from being filmed as they do their jobs. It’s only when police are caught on camera breaking the law by assaulting criminal suspects or otherwise breaking the law that they can get in trouble. Comey didn’t seem to think that it would be possible for police officers to do their jobs without having free rein to violate the law with impunity.
When he shared these ideas, James Comey wasn’t speaking as if he was just making a guess or offering his own opinion. He was speaking as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He spoke as if he was simply declaring the truth, after looking at statistical evidence that substantiated his claim.
Yesterday, Comey admitted that, in fact, he didn’t have any evidence that citizen filming of police officers had any causal relationship with increases in crime. Comey said that it was just “common sense” to think that when anti-racism protesters use cameras to record racist criminal abuses of citizens by the police, police officers will stop doing their jobs out of fear of getting in trouble.
“The honest answer is I don’t know for sure whether that’s the case,” Comey said, “but I do have a strong sense.”
A strong sense? Common sense?
What James Comey is saying is that he shouldn’t need to provide concrete evidence to support his claim that anti-racism protesters are causing a spike in crime across the country. Comey thinks we ought to just take his word for it.
Does Comey really not understand that this is the very attitude among law enforcement officials that anti-racism protesters are demonstrating against in the first place? Evidence proves that police in many regions of the United States regularly treat African-Americans as if they are criminals, even when there is no evidence of actual criminal activity taking place. Now, Comey is presuming that African-American protesters are encouraging criminal activity, even though he doesn’t have any actual evidence to support his case.
The FBI Director, of all people, ought to understand that it’s important to have evidence before making accusations against people. He ought to know that blaming citizen oversight for criminal activity is anything but common sense. If James Comey can’t come to grasp these basic ideas, it’s time for him to resign from his job.