On Friday morning, November 6, 2020, two police officers were shot by a suspect in Waukesha county while they were attempting to question him about a traffic accident. Both officers will recover from their wounds. One has already been released from the hospital. Thank goodness for that.
The shootings resulted in the closing of I-94 near Delafield plus adjacent frontage roads, county trunk highways, and local streets. I heard about it that morning on the radio.
I heard five different reports and they all included a description of the suspect…gender, height, weight, hair color, eye color, clothing…and I believe armed and dangerous. The one descriptor that they left out was race.
Now if the suspect was Black, they would have included Black in the description.The same if he were Hispanic or Asian. Instead we are to infer that he was white. Which he is. Because all suspects are white unless they are not and they will then tell you what race or skin color they are.
Now granted…from eye and hair color…it could easily be understood that the suspect was white. But if we are to be fair and consistent, we really should identify by race in all warnings like this…every single time.
Now, to be fair, one of the radio reports started out saying that police were looking for a while man in a shooting and then described the incident and then closed with what was probably the official police description that omitted race.
I didn’t look for any newspaper reports that morning so I don’t know what they published or how they presented it…and the only articles I am finding now outline the suspects actual identity and arrest…and not the original police warnings.
But it’s little things like this…that we’ve taken for granted forever…that are little red flags of systemic racism that we need to be aware of…by police, the media, and in our own interactions.