Message to Marin County police: Leave blacks alone

The new pattern in American law enforcement, whenever there's an imperfect interaction between a non-black police officer and a black citizen, is that the police are presumptively racist.  Videos go viral, and, before anyone investigates the facts, the mob forms (sometimes violently, sometimes just vocally), and the police find themselves in trouble.  The message is clear: don't go near blacks.  This will backfire.

On August 29, I wrote about "A tempest in a Tiburon teapot."  In the business district of a small, affluent, and (yes) mostly white town that shuts down by 9 P.M., a police officer patrolling the town at 1 A.M. noticed three people inside a clothing store.  He knocked on the door and said he was checking to see if everything was all right.

The three people in the store were the two owners, Yema Khalif and Hawi Awash, and a friend, all three of whom are black.  Khalif, the male store-owner who opened the door, could have greeted the officer politely and shown his bona fides, which would immediately have ended the matter.  He might even have thanked the officer for looking out for his store.

Instead, Khalif refused to provide any information.  At that point, the officer had two operating assumptions: (1) the guy is a jerk who has a right to be there, and (2) the guy is a robber who has no right to be there.  The officer worried about the second operation, so he pushed.  And then, when his sergeant arrived, the sergeant pushed, too.

Khalif kept throwing down the race card, while the officers repeated that race had nothing to do with it.  The anomaly that caught their interest wasn't the people's race.  It was people in a store four hours after the business district had shut down.

Once the matter had gone public, Khalif explained that he'd felt targeted by the police at other times before that fateful night.  He had a point.  In Tiburon, there are very few blacks; the police are extremely zealous about everything; and, yes, the police will notice someone who stands out.  This can undoubtedly be humiliating for black residents or businesspeople.

Having said that, as with all interactions with the police, no matter how unfair, first you cooperate, then you complain.  A person who is baiting the police, as Khalif did, while his wife filmed, is looking for notoriety.

That search for notoriety worked.  The sergeant who interacted with Khalif has been forced out of his job:

A Tiburon police sergeant has resigned following a confrontation with a Black merchant that critics say stemmed from racial profiling.

Sgt. Michael Blasi was the supervising officer on Aug. 21 during the incident at Yema, a clothing store on Main Street. A patrol officer saw people in the store at 1 a.m. and questioned why they were there.


The town announced Blasi's resignation on Tuesday. Town Manager Greg Chanis said Blasi has had several conversations with town officials since the incident.

"In these conversations, Sergeant Blasi expressed his love for Tiburon and described the deep connection he developed during his time serving the community," Chanis wrote in a message to residents. "However, he believes it would be difficult to continue being effective as a police officer in Tiburon."

I have an anecdote to throw in. When I was still living in Marin, many people in my neighborhood noticed a somewhat disreputable man with a backpack walking on the street.  It's a friendly neighborhood, and we didn't recognize him.  He looked out of place.  However, because he was black, none of us called the police.  Doing so would have been racist.

The man was caught an hour after we saw him when a neighbor walked into her house and came face-to-face with him while he was looking for drugs.  It turned out he had a serious criminal record.  She was safe, but it was scary.

The irony of this whole thing was that, entirely by coincidence, the robber broke into the home of the only black family on the block.  The woman chided us later: "If someone looks out of place, call the police."  Thanks to Yema's success at being a jerk, though, even if Marin residents call the police, when the police hear the word "black," they might not want to show up.

Marin's black citizens and white virtue-signaling citizens are no doubt feeling pleased with themselves now.  They should enjoy this feeling while they can because they've just invited every non-white criminal within a 50-mile radius of Marin to come over and have some fun.

In the future, it will be tempting for law enforcement officers in Marin who want to keep their jobs to limit their engagements with black suspects unless the suspects are so blatantly caught in the act that there's no question of racial targeting.  Blacks ought to be especially worried about this development, for the sad reality of America is that the most likely victim of a black criminal is a black person.

Image: Tiburon police video screengrab, edited in Pixlr.

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