… Asks my esteemed colleague Mike Niman (in DailyPublic.com – which has a firewall, alas):
Here in Buffalo … we need to look proactively at racial disparities in policing, not only in the city but in all of the political constructs we call suburbs. Omnipresent cell phone video cameras mean that racist business-as-usual can no longer be ignored by authorities or hidden from the general public. Communities that have historically been denied justice are both fed up and empowered by recent events. I’ve always said this abuse has to stop—because it’s wrong. That, apparently, never was enough of an argument to move the ball. Now we’re reminded it’s also bad for business. Maybe that will move the sociopaths among our civic leaders to action. Property values won’t go up if adjacent neighborhoods are burning down.
Independent police review boards and monitors, and zero tolerance for civil rights violations, starting today, will go a long way toward preventing civic unrest by preventing sparks. But this is only a Band-Aid. The only real long-term fix that will cut the fuel to social unrest is to address the growing gap between the rich and the poor, and to address the societal structures that game the system and maintain racial inequity across generations.
For all the feel good stories about Buffalo rising, it’s not. We’re following in the path of gilded cities that are divided into playgrounds for the comparatively wealthy and bottomless hellholes for the inter-generationally poor. From Buffalo’s hipster enclaves, things might look great. Holistically, however, we’re living in a tinderbox of inequality.