Authorities in the San Francisco Bay Area have a funny way of protecting their citizens. They barely lift a finger (and worse) when violent mobs shut down political speeches, they offer sanctuary to illegal immigrants like the man who ended up murdering a young American woman after having been deported five times, and now they're censoring security footage of criminal attacks on their public transit system. Why? Because they don't want to "create racial bias" by showing images of the perpetrators. Via Legal Insurrection, here is the local CBS affiliate's story on the developing controversy:
April 22: Forty to sixty kids boarded a train at the Coliseum stop and robbed seven passengers, beating up two; June 28: A group of four kids assaulted a passenger and made off with a cell phone at Dublin; and June 30: A woman on a train with about a dozen teenagers had her phone snatched by one them before the group got off at the Coliseum stop. Thankfully, a good Samaritan was on hand to retrieve the phone.
So far, BART has refused to turn over surveillance video for any of these incidents. Allen told us the agency issued an explanation for why it is being tight-lipped about the thefts. “To release these videos would create a high level of racially insensitive commentary toward the district,” she was told. “And in addition it would create a racial bias in the riders against minorities on the trains.” According to a memo distributed to BART Directors, the agency won’t do a press release on the June 30 theft because it was a “petty crime” that would make BART look “crime ridden.” Furthermore, it would “unfairly affect and characterize riders of color, leading to sweeping generalizations in media reports.”
I understand some of the other reasons offered for sometimes withholding video footage, but the racial component is unacceptable. Absent other factors, would BART release footage of crimes committed by criminals of one race, but not another? Why? Is it the job of public officials to determine which crimes the general public has a right to see, based on the color of the suspects' skin? Do politically-correct racial considerations take precedence over public safety and government transparency? Various BART statements on these matters are also telling in another way: One explanation accuses the media of wanting to air the footage to boost clicks and ratings, not out of concern for the public interest: "The media’s real interest in the videos of youth phone snatching incidents isn’t the desire for transparency but rather the pursuit of ratings," one official wrote.
There may be some truth to that, but let's not pretend like BART doesn't have its own ulterior motives here. Don't you think this struggling operation would prefer to keep dramatic footage of muggings and mob attacks committed on its trains and platforms off of local newscasts? Dots on an online map signifying each crime will be seen by many fewer eyeballs, and would not elicit nearly the same visceral or fearful reaction from potential paying customers. Ultimately, this is a government entity operating with taxpayer dollars deliberately choosing to keep relevant information about criminal activity away from citizens for explicitly racial reasons -- with a strong whiff of accountability-dodging and myopic self-preservation mixed in. How do the inhabitants of this uber-liberal metroplex feel about that decision? Especially the implication that their inner racism would get stirred up if they were simply granted access to factual information by their government minders? Over at Red State, Kira Davis -- who is black -- unloads:
Just to recap – innocent, paying BART riders are being beaten and robbed but authorities don’t want to properly inform the public so they can be alert because that might make more racism. Allen says it would “create a racial bias in the riders against minorities on the trains.” Not the actual criminals. They’re not the ones creating a “racial bias” by beating and robbing people. No. It’s you dirty racists who would like to be informed of crime risks on the transportation you pay for dearly in one of the most expensive cities in the nation.
Parting thought: BART claims that in many cases, the surveillance tapes can't be be released because they're evidence in an investigation. Excuse me, but doesn't such footage appear on television and online all the time? And don't authorities use those videos to appeal to the public for help in solving crimes? If an assailant of a "problematic" racial background is harming riders and stealing their belongings, and is still on the loose, which is more important: Identifying and capturing the suspect, or being careful not to perpetuate racial stereotypes? How far does this nonsense go?