Blacks Doubt Closer Ties With Police
DALLAS--Andre Stubblefield leaves his dilapidated apartment complex in southern Dallas, he always carries his work gloves, vest and hard hat, even when he is not going to work. The police have stopped him regularly over the years, asking for identification about four times in the last four months alone. So he carries his work attire to show that he is a working man, not a criminal.
“I got to fake like I’m wearing my work stuff, so they won’t mess with me,” said Mr. Stubblefield, 30, who works in demolition.
In the wake of last week’s sniper shooting that left five Dallas police officers dead, many people have lamented that it happened in this city, with a Black police chief who even critics say has made inroads with the community and worked to steer his force away from its history of racism and abuse. Since Chief David O. Brown took over the department in 2010, excessive-force complaints have dropped 64 percent, and he has started de-escalation training and a successful community policing program.
But for all the progress that the Dallas police have made, this remains one of the most segregated big cities in the country, with yawning racial gaps in housing, schools and employment. Decades of discriminatory federal, state and local policies have concentrated the city’s Black population in deeply poor and underdeveloped neighborhoods south of Interstate 30, which serves as a line of demarcation between opportunity and neglect. While downtown Dallas is flush with glassy skyscrapers and high priced restaurants, large tracts of the city’s southern sector are empty and ragged.
“People look at the Black Lives Matter movement as people protesting against police brutality,” said Terry Flowers, the executive director and headmaster of St. Philip’s School and Community Center in South Dallas. “I think it is much larger than that. People are protesting against a social engineering of inequality. In the broader community here, there is tension. You get pulled over by a police officer, there is automatic tension.”
So while the Dallas Police Department has gained national acclaim, the extent to which these reforms have changed how Black residents view the police, and the extent to which they have altered the way the city’s most marginalized residents interact with the police, depend largely on whom you ask.
A 2014 survey by the Dallas-based Embrey Family Foundation found that while 67 percent of Dallas Black residents believed that the
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