Baltimore police faced off against protesters on April 30.
In Baltimore, white people make up 28 percent of the population but 50 percent of the city's police officers. In Philadelphia, where police and protesters clashed last Thursday during a #FreddieGray rally, whites are 37 percent of the population but 58 percent of the police force. In Sacramento, whites comprise just 36 percent of residents but 72 percent of police.
Those are just a few of the departments whose ethnic makeup is dramatically out of sync with the demographics of the cities they serve. Using census data, Chris Zubak-Skees of the Center for Public Integrity crunched the numbers for the nation's 50 most populous cities. In 49 of them—Atlanta being the lone exception—the cops are whiter than the community.
Zubak-Skees notes that police departments in many cities have worked hard to make themselves more diverse. Acting on recommendations by the 1968 Kerner Commission—which was appointed to investigate the causes of riots in Los Angeles, Chicago, Newark, and Detroit—many departments began reviewing fair promotion policies and recruiting African Americans. The numbers have improved somewhat over the years, but most big-city forces are still far from representative. The Kerner report warned that an "abrasive relationship between police and the minority communities has been a major—and explosive—source of grievance, tension, and disorder."
"For many, those words still ring depressingly true today," CPI notes.
The following charts give a breakdown for 15 cities, including those with the greatest disparities to those whose police forces closely reflect the people they serve. If you don't see your city here, scroll down to the table containing all of the 50 cities Zubak-Skees examined.
Thousands took to the streets in Baltimore last week following the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, a black man who died after his spine was nearly severed while riding in a police van. The "Baltimore Uprising" is the latest in a series of demonstrations to protest police brutality and the deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. Crowds have come out around the country—and abroad—as part of a movement that's now being called Black Spring.
In a ruling that might surprise those who've watched recent Supreme Court's rulings on campaign finance issues, the high court ruled today that states can ban judges from directly soliciting campaign donations.
The case, Williams-Yulee v. The Florida Bar, was a First Amendment challenge to a Florida rule that barred judicial candidates from personally asking donors for money. Lanelle Williams-Yulee unsuccessfully ran to become a county judge in 2009. During her campaign, she signed a letter asking for campaign contributions. The Florida Supreme Court later found that she had violated state rules on judicial campaigns. Williams-Yulee challenged that decision but lost.
Among the 39 states hold judicial elections, 30 have bans on judges personally asking for campaign money. As Mother Jones reported last year, judicial elections have quietly become a major battleground in American politics over the last decade. State judicial candidates raised a combined $83 million in the 1990s, a total that was surpassed by roughly $30 million in the 2011-12 election cycle. More than $200 million has been donated to state supreme court candidates since 2000, and independent (and often unaccountable) spending on state judicial races has increased nearly sevenfold in that same time. Sue Bell Cobb, the retired chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, recently likened judicial elections to "legalized extortion."
Justice At Stake, a nonpartisan watchdog group that often speaks out against big money in judicial elections, applauded the Supreme Court's decision. "Today's decision helps judges, by saving them from the compromising job of raising cash from people whose cases they will decide," the group's executive director, Bert Brandenberg said in a statement. " It helps our court system, by shoring up its ability to be fair and impartial. And it helps the public, by reassuring them that they will not find themselves in court before a judge who has received a check directly from the opposing party in their case."
Chief Justice John Roberts joined the court's four liberal justices in the 5-4 decision. "Judges are not politicians, even when they come to the bench by way of the ballot," he wrote. "And a State's decision to elect its judiciary does not compel it to treat judicial candidates like campaigners for political office. A State may assure its people that judges will apply the law without fear or favor—and without having personally asked anyone for money."
Standing side by side with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at the White House on Tuesday, President Barack Obama made some of his most detailed and forceful comments yet about economic inequality and police behavior during recent protests around the country. He told reporters that while there was no excuse for the violence that erupted in Baltimore last night, the unrest could be tied to decades of civil rights issues, income inequality, and a lack of opportunity. Here's an excerpt:
This is not new. This has been going on for decades. And without making any excuses for criminal activities that take place in these communities, we also know if you have impoverished communities that have been stripped away of opportunity, where children are born into abject poverty, they've got parents, often because of substance abuse problems or incarceration or lack of education, and themselves can't do right by their kids, if it's more likely that those kids end up in jail or dead than that they go to college, and communities where there are no fathers who can provide guidance to young men, communities where there’s no investment, and manufacturing's been stripped away, and drugs have flooded the community and the drug industry ends up being the primary employer for a lot of folks, in those environments, if we think that we're just going to send the police to do the dirty work of containing the problems that arise there without, as a nation, and as a society saying what can we do to change those communities to help lift up those communities and give those kids opportunity, then we're not going to solve this problem, and we'll go through this same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities, and the occasional riots in the streets and everybody will feign concern until it goes away and we just go about our business as usual.
Chances are you're bad at passwords. Most of us are. A recent statistic offered up by Jonathan LeBlanc, the global head of developer advocacy at PayPal, suggests that nearly 10 percent of people have a password consisting of 123456, 12345678, or, simply, "password."
LeBlanc has some bold thoughts on improving this state of affairs. As he told the Wall Street Journal last week, "embeddable, injectable, and ingestible devices" are the next step companies will use to identify consumers for "mobile payments and other sensitive online interactions."
From the Journal:
While there are more advanced methods to increase login security, like location verification, identifying people by their habits like the way they type in their passwords, fingerprints and other biometric identifiers, these can lead to false negative results, where valid users can't log in to their online services, and false positives, where invalid users can log in.
Mr. Leblanc pointed to more accurate methods of identity verification, like thin silicon chips which can be embedded into the skin. The wireless chips can contain ECG sensors that monitor the heart’s unique electrical activity, and communicate the data via wireless antennae to "wearable computer tattoos."
Ingestible capsules that can detect glucose levels and other unique internal features can use a person's body as a way to identify them and beam that data out.
To be fair, LeBlanc told the paper that these specific technologies aren't necessarily things that PayPal is planning, but he's been raising the possibility in a presentation he's been giving, and has said the online dealbroker is "definitely looking at the identity field" as a means of allowing users a more secure way to identify themselves.
You don't have to be a "mark of the beast" person or a conspiracy theorist to have concerns. Indeed, what could possibly go wrong with a little implanted device that reads your vein patterns or your heart's unique activity or blood glucose levels just so you can seamlessly buy that cup of Starbucks? Wouldn't an insurance company love to use that information to decide that you had one too many donuts—so it won't be covering that bypass surgery after all?
As the Wall Street Journal cautiously notes, "Mr. Leblanc admits that there's still a ways to go before cultural norms catch up with ingestible and injectable ID devices."