A prominent anti-abortion activist scheduled to speak at the Republican National Convention on Tuesday night made a video in which she appears to endorse racial profiling in policing, even if it means police being inherently more suspicious of her adopted black son.
Vice News reports that Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood worker turned anti-abortion activist, posted a video in June in which she claimed it would be “smart” for police officers to racially profile her adopted black son, and justified her belief with incarceration statistics.
“Statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons,” she said in the video.
“While the wording of her statement seems to suggest she believes black people are inherently more likely to commit crimes simply by the color of their skin, the main thrust of her argument is that police should be warier around black people because they represent a disproportionate percentage of individuals in prison,” reports the Independent.
“I recognize that I’m gonna have to have a different conversation with Jude than I do with my brown-haired little Irish, very, very pale-skinned, white sons, as they grow up,” Johnson said in the video.
Johnson shared the video in the wake of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis.
She suggested that her son may grow up to be a “probably sort of large, intimidating-looking-maybe brown man” and that police would be wise to be suspicious of him as a result.
“Statistically, I look at our prison population and I see that there is a disproportionately high number of African-American males in our prison population for crimes, particularly for violent crimes,” Johnson said. “So statistically, when a police officer sees a brown man like my Jude walking down the road — as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men walking down the road — because of the statistics that he knows in his head, that these police officers know in their head, they’re going to know that statistically, my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”
She said an office racially profiling her son wouldn’t make her angry.
“So the fact that in his head, he would be more careful around my brown son that my white son, that doesn’t actually make me angry. That makes that police officer smart, because of statistics,” she said.
Apart from making a basic statistical fallacy of equating correlation and causation, she also has her facts wrong,” according to a fact check by the Independent. “While she is correct that the prison population is disproportionately black – 13 percent of the US male population is black, but they make up 35 percent of the country’s male prisoners – they are not overwhelmingly locked up for violent crimes.”
“According to FBI data from 2014 – the most recent year available – only 6 percent of arrests of black men were for violent crimes in 2011. In reality, black men are more likely to be arrested, charged and sentenced with crimes – generally tied to drug use or possession – due to racial biases in policing and the legal system.”