“Whenever young black men riot in response to police brutality or murder, …. we’re tempted to think we can address the problem by improving police quality,” says Richard Rothstein, a senior fellow at Berkeley Law’s Warren Institute on Law and Social Policy.
However important and necessary that may be, “such proposals ignore the obvious reality that the protests are not really (or primarily) about policing,” he contends in a recent article, “This Is One Reason Why Places Like Ferguson and Baltimore Have Become Explosive.”
As in an earlier piece, “The Making of Ferguson: Public Policies at the Root of its Troubles,” Rothstein traces today’s crisis in Baltimore (and elsewhere) to government policies. In this case he describes housing policies that, over the decades, “have helped to disproportionately direct low-income black families to segregated neighborhoods and away from middle-class suburbs.”
“Without suburban integration, something barely on today’s public policy agenda, ghetto conditions will persist, giving rise to aggressive policing and the riots that inevitably ensue,” writes Rothstein. “Like Ferguson before it, Baltimore will not be the last such conflagration the nation needlessly experiences.”