Horrifyingly, it turns out that accusing Black men of false crimes is back in style.
Centuries ago, African Americans were often the scapegoats for liars who would accuse them of rapes, murders, and thefts, with many of the deceits ending in lynchings. Since then, we’ve seen many high profile instances of people blaming blacks for crimes they committed themselves, or crimes that didn’t even happen.
In 1995, South Carolina woman Susan Smith drowned her two sons by trapping them in the backseat of her car and pushing it into a lake. She then accused a Black man of kidnapping them. And in 2009, Pennsylvania mother Bonnie Sweeten ran away with her daughter to Disneyland. She told the police, however, that a Black man had carjacked her and forced her and her daughter into the trunk, stealing them away.
One would hope that people would be past this sort of thing by now. Unfortunately, they are not.
Two times already this year, two separate women in New York City have reported being attacked by African-American men. The first, the wife of an NYPD detective, claimed she was attacked by a Black man outside her home on Valentine’s Day. Tsui Dadamo said the man was masked and that he beat her up. After thorough questioning, however, police discovered that Dadamo was lying, and had actually given herself a beating.
Elsewhere, in Brooklyn, nun Sister Mary Turcotte claimed a “six-foot-four, 250 pound” Black man had choked her, dragged her through the snowy streets and then left her naked and unconscious on the side of the road. Again, however, after thorough police questioning, Turcotte came clean: There had been no attack. She made up the story, she said, to cover up for the consensual sex she’d had with a bodega clerk. Later, it was discovered that that was also a lie—there’d been no fling with a bodega clerk. Turcotte is simply a pathological liar.
Why do these types of fibs happen so frequently? Blame it on the fact that police themselves are more prone to harass Black men. In New York City’s “stop and frisk” program, for instance, minority men are nine times as likely to be stopped and searched for weapons or other contraband. Who cares that nine times out of 10 they’re innocent? With the police already on the trail of young Black men, it makes sense that whites looking to falsely blame someone would instinctively choose young Black men.
There are no longer lynch mobs—thank goodness—but that doesn’t mean young Black men’s lives aren’t at risk.
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