WASHINGTON - Video of Walter Scott’s killing has shed a light on the actions of the police officer involved and somewhat, on police conduct generally — but a recently released report highlights how minor infractions ruin lives. The report begins: “Poor people, especially people of color, face a far greater risk of being fined, arrested, and even incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can all result in jail time.
Yes, America’s war on the poor has been increasingly deadly, especially in urban communities, since the 1980s. The majority of poor are white, and millions of these live outside of urban areas, where contact with police can be avoided. Poverty is not a racial issue. The overwhelming majority of poor are women, and the majority of these are white. Of course, when a poor white man is killed by police, we automatically assume he did something to justify the killing, even if the cop isn’t white.