A report on policing in Madison, Wisconsin revealed that officers in the city could be arresting nearly a third of black children between the ages of 10 and 17 each year.
In an article for Fusion, investigative reporter Cristina Costantini highlighted how a city which is considered to be one of the best places in the country for white children to grow up was also one of the worst places in the country for black children.
According to Costantini, Wisconsin is only second to Indiana, which has the highest arrest rates in the country for black kids. But Madison doubles Wisconsin’s arrest rate for black kids, making them eight times more likely to be arrested that white children.
“In a city where whites outnumber blacks more than 11 to 1, Madison made over 1000 arrests of black children between the ages of 10 and 17 in 2013,” she wrote. “It’s unclear how many kids may have been arrested more than once, but only 3,247 black children of that age live in the city, according to the Census.”
Costantini said that she interviewed more than two dozen black teenagers in Madison and each one told a story about being “unfairly targeted by the police.”
Christen Justice, 18, told Fusion that he had been wrongly cited for shoplifting because a friend stole something from a store where he works. Four weeks later, Justice was arrested for taking a lunch break in the food court because police said that he “was allowed to report to work at East Towne Mall, but was not to conduct other activities.”
“When I think about it, I figure that the biggest threat to my life is a police officer,” Justice lamented. “My biggest threat is the people who are supposed to be protecting you.”
Justice’s experience with Madison police could help to explain why 13 percent of black men in Wisconsin are in prison, which is nearly twice the national average. In fact, black children in Madison are arrested for disorderly conduct at a rate 14 times higher than white children, Costantini noted.
“My grandmother moved from Mississippi to Madison with me because she was told it was a great city. It’s so progressive, it’s so welcoming,” Justice remarked. “And it is great, if you’re white.”
(h/t: Boing Boing)