Tag Archives: The K Chronicles

The Cops Don’t Exist in a Vacuum

In the least shocking news of the year, Vermont Police are still being racist about their traffic stops.

The same research team that found racial disparities in traffic stops and searches two years ago, has updated its report to reflect two more years of data. And while there’s been some incremental improvement, things “are getting worse or staying the same,” according to lead researcher (and UVM prof) Stephanie Seguino.

Topline takeaways: You’re much more likely to be pulled over if you’re black or Hispanic in Vermont. If you’re pulled over, you’re much more likely to be searched — even though searches of white drivers are much more likely to uncover illegal activity.

The cherry on top: Despite a 2014 law mandating that police report the apparent race of each driver stopped, plenty of cops are flouting the law. Take, for example, Bennington’s racist PD, which is omitting the data more frequently than ever. And the Rutland PD, which has a specific problem with including racial data: “…for the 457 stops where race of the driver is not known, less than 1% of those stops had any other missing information about the stop.”

So now what? More sensitivity training? “Tough conversations”? Earnest promises to do better?

Yeah, a lot of that — although some can’t even be bothered to pretend to care. Bennington chief Paul Doucette lamely offered that he needed more time to look at the report before commenting. (The report notes that the volume of traffic stops in Bennington increased by 65% between 2015 and 2019. If Doucette has had any second thoughts about his minions’ racist performance, the word hasn’t filtered down through the ranks.)

And, judging by his track record, he probably hung up the phone and tossed the report into the circular file.

Which is not to say that we should place all the blame at the feet of a few cops and chiefs. After all, the thing about “bad apples” is that they spoil the barrel.

Or maybe the whole barrel was spoiled to begin with.

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Keith Knight!!!!

Drove down to Dartmouth College today for a talk by one of my favorite comic artists, a guy who ought to be much more well-known than he is: Keith Knight, creator of three (count ‘em — three) syndicated comics. Hardest-working man in the funny papers.

Knight, for those tragically unaware, is a young black man whose work features a rich and dynamic mix of political commentary, true-life narrative, goofball humor, and a visual style that’s bursting with energy.

I first came across his original creation, The K Chronicles, in the comics pages of Seven Days. Unfortunately, a couple years ago the paper revamped its comics and dropped the strip. I don’t know if it was too black or too funny or what, but it was a great loss. Fortunately, you can find his work online and he’s published a half-dozen compilations, some of which are still in print.

The subject of his talk is a sadly recurring theme in his work: police violence against African-Americans. It was entitled “They Shoot Black People, Don’t They?” which is also the title of a published collection of his work on the subject. “I’ve been doing comics about police brutality for 20 years. I’m sick of it.”

A recent example after the jump.

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