The nauseating combination of ignorance, self-righteousness, entitlement, and boorishness that characterizes campus politics today was on appalling display yesterday at Brown University, as a massive crowd of students prevented New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly from addressing the school. Kelly had come to Brown to talk about the New York Police Department's unmatched success in lowering New York's crime rate. The students, however, heckled him off the stage, shouting that Kelly had "institute[ed] systemic racism" in the city through the NYPD's contested stop, question, and frisk tactics.
The protesters of course take for granted that they can go about blithely squandering their parents' tuition money at Brown without fear of getting shot, robbed, or raped. Nor do they have to navigate through a gauntlet of drug dealers on their way to the store or while picking up their mail. Residents of New York City's poorest neighborhoods by contrast endured just such constant fear and disorder until the NYPD embraced proactive policing and other revolutionary reforms in the early 1990s, reforms which Kelly perfected. When every criminologist predicted that the NYPD's 1990s crime drop had bottomed out, Kelly drove crime down another 31%, in the process saving another 5000 minority lives.
The Brown students have zero understanding of the massive disproportionality in crime commission in New York and other American cities. In New York, for example, blacks commit nearly 80% of all shootings, though they are 23% of the city's population, while whites, 34% of New York residents, commit around 2% of all shootings. Such a disparity means that policing will be concentrated in minority areas and will result inevitably in disproportionate police activity, including stops. The police focus on minority neighborhoods in order to protect the many law-abiding residents there; if the police ignored those areas, only then could they rightly be accused of racism.
Unfortunately, a federal judge declared the NYPD's stop practices unconstitutional in August. Judge Shira Scheindlin's opinion, profoundly ignorant of policing and rife with bias against the department, is now the gospel truth on the NYPD. The Brown protesters (and their sympathetic professors) undoubtedly ate her opinion up without having the slightest capacity to evaluate its claims. At a stop, question, and frisk panel at Pace Law School this month (in which I participated), a professor read aloud the most egregious passages of Scheindlin's opinion as established fact. And so it will go across the country as equally uninformed anti-cop protesters increase their pressure against any police practice targeted at crime that has a disproportionate impact on minority neighborhoods. The result will likely be an increase in crime nationwide.
The Brown protesters disgraced themselves and their school in silencing a selfless public servant who has done more in twelve years for New York's poorest neighborhoods than decades of the big government redistribution programs that the Brown hecklers most certainly support. Their behavior represents a failure of civic education and of basic manners, which Brown has apparently failed to correct. (Brown's president Christina Paxson rightly denounced the protesters' silencing of Kelly; too bad there was not adequate security to remove the hecklers before Kelly was so brutishly humiliated.) If the protesters' idea of policing takes hold, however, they better figure out a way to stay indefinitely in the safe bubble of their Providence campus.