Unequal treatment by law enforcement should be discussed in schools

Posted 20 April 2021 at 7:04 am


In Steve Smith’s recent letter he advocates amending the public school curriculum to include lessons apparently to insure the public’s safety in the event of an encounter with police, especially those leading to an arrest. In other words, lifesaving protection from the protectors.

Although well intended, Mr. Smith’s letter misses the point. Despite what some people may think, it’s not about whether one resists arrest or not. It’s about who resists arrest or even when they don’t resist.

This may come as a surprise to many people in Orleans County, but even white people have been known to resist arrest during an altercation with law enforcement. In fact, when taken into account that blacks make up only 13.4% of the U.S. population and although blacks are nearly twice as often charged for resisting as whites, the overall incidence of whites resisting arrest is still greater. But even that doesn’t matter.

Here’s the issue. With rare exception, white people who resist arrest and are then taken into police custody ultimately will end up either 1. Pleading out or, 2. Found innocent or guilty by a jury of their peers as our Constitution so wonderfully provides.

If found guilty in New York State, resisting arrest is a Class A misdemeanor (according to https://statelaws.findlaw.com/new-york) and is punishable of up to one year in jail, 1 to 3 years’ probation, a fine of up to $1,000 or … “twice the amount of the perpetrator’s financial gain from the underlying crime.” In the case of George Floyd, twice the amount of an alleged counterfeit $20 bill.

Unfortunately for a disproportionate number of people of color, that very same offense carries a dirt-nap sentence from which they will never wake up. Even though at the very moment they died at the hands of the police, they were secured in police custody, no longer posed any threat and remained innocent until proven guilty.

Maybe that should be taught in public schools as well.

Or is that just simply too “PC”?


Tom Graham


Albion High School ’78