Race and the Law

Marian Evans, American Renaissance, June 1994

Lady Justice

Image Credit: Wikimedia

There are signs that the law is slowly beginning to acknowledge that blacks are more violent and dangerous than whites. The most dramatic example of this was an unprecedented defense used in a murder trial in Fort Worth, Texas in April.

In most respects, the crime was perfectly ordinary. A 17-year-old black man, Daimion Osby, was rolling dice with some other young black men. Mr. Osby won a $400 pot and promptly left the game. This violated dicing etiquette, which requires that big winners stay in the game and give others a chance to win back their money.

One of the heavy losers, Marcus Brooks, vowed to “get” Mr. Osby. Some time afterwards, Mr. Brooks, with help form a cousin, attacked Mr. Osby at a basketball game, and the fight was broken up by police. On another occasion, when Mr. Osby was stopped at a traffic light, Mr. Brooks and his cousin pulled up beside him, waved a shotgun at him, and ordered him to pull over. Mr. Osby sped away and escaped.

Mr. Osby once again eluded his attackers after a meeting in a park, and decided that he should arm himself. He bought a .38 caliber revolver and three bullets, and started carrying the weapon in his pocket.

One evening, Mr. Osby was standing on the sidewalk talking to a woman. Mr. Brooks and his cousin were driving by, saw Mr. Osby, and drove up onto the sidewalk, bumping Mr. Osby. The two assailants got out of the car and attacked Mr. Osby, knocking him to the ground. Mr. Osby broke free and shot one of the men in the head. As the other made a dash for the car, where he kept a loaded handgun, Mr. Osby shot him, too, killing both men with single shots to the head.

Mr. Osby’s public defenders argued that this was a justified, self-defense killing. The problem was that Texas law permits defensive use of lethal force only if a man has reason to believe that his life is in imminent danger. The lawyers decided to argue that because the assailants were black, Mr. Osby had particularly compelling reason to think his life was in danger.

The prosecution tried to prevent this testimony, but the defense was allowed to call an expert witness to explain to the jury the grisly facts about differential murder rates. The witness made a very simple case. He pointed out that men are about nine times more likely to commit murder than women, and it is appropriate to adjust defensive behavior according to the sex of an assailant. Men are more dangerous than women, so it is more reasonable to shoot a male attacker than a female attacker. He also explained that young men are far more dangerous than old men, and therefore pose a threat that can be more justifiably met with lethal force.

Finally, he pointed out that blacks are more than eight times more likely to commit murder than whites. This means that blacks are almost as much more dangerous than whites as men are more dangerous than women. Just as it is legitimate to fear men more than women and young men more than old men, it is legitimate to fear blacks more than whites. Mr. Osby faced two men who fit perfectly the profile of the most dangerous, violent people in America, and was therefore justified in using deadly force.

The defense seems to have been partly successful. The jury voted eleven-to-one to convict, but the jury foreman–one of two blacks on the panel–held out for acquittal. As he explained to journalists, Mr. Osby was right to be afraid and to think his life in danger. A hung jury is neither a conviction nor an acquittal, and the prosecution promises to try Mr. Osby again, probably in the fall. The defense plans to present the same expert testimony at the second trial.

There was outrage among Fort Worth blacks over this defense strategy, as there always is when unpleasant racial facts are aired. A group of preachers thundered that this defense would mean it was “open season” on young black men. Of course, young men of any race are more dangerous than old women, but this does not make it “open season” on them.

It is fortunate that Mr. Osby is black. The blacks-are-more-dangerous defense would be just as valid for whites as for blacks, but in the current climate of racial hysteria, it would probably backfire on a white defendant. Nevertheless, it is an important milestone for a court officially to permit testimony explaining that blacks are a greater threat to society than whites.

In other, less direct ways, racial realities may begin shaping the law. There is support in some quarters for permitting police searches without warrants in certain housing projects. Residents would agree to the searches as a condition for living in subsidized apartments. The American Civil Liberties Union seems to have stopped this plan for the time being, but no one imagines warrantless searches of buildings full of whites or Asians.

Likewise, several months ago, the mayor of Washington, DC, Sharon Pratt Kelly, proposed that since crime had become such a problem in her city, the National Guard should be asked to help fight it. It is no coincidence that Washington is two-thirds black.

America is not a single society but several. Eventually the law may recognize this.

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