Pro-life activist Abby Johnson, who is scheduled to speak Tuesday at the Republican National Convention, said in a now-deleted June video that police would be “smart” to racially profile her son because of his brown skin, according to Vice News.
Johnson posted the video in June, not long after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May kicked off a series of nationwide race riots.
What did she say?
Johnson said she would be fine with police officers treating her minority son differently than her white sons because of crime and prison statistics.
“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 Jude walking down the road–as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men walking down the road–because of the statistics 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.”
“So the fact that in his head, he would be more careful around my brown son than my white son, that doesn’t actually make me angry,” Johnson continued. “That makes the police officer smart, because of statistics.”
This writer’s perspective
Johnson said later in the video that she would not approve of police being more violent toward her biracial son because of his skin color, but the distinction doesn’t acknowledge the reality that if a police officer views someone as inherently more threatening, there’s a good chance they might react to that person more aggressively.
The very racial profiling Johnson advocates for in the videos leads to the statistic she uses to justify it; police view minorities as inherently criminal, leading to more confrontations, more arrests, and more incarceration for nonviolent crimes such as marijuana possession. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s stance on stop-and-frisk is an example of how profiling plays out in a community.
Much of the racial unrest in the U.S. right now is based on the belief, whether through perception or lived experience, that police officers treat minorities worse than white people simply due to the color of their skin, which can lead to seemingly routine interactions between police and minorities ending in violence.
Research shows that most black people don’t feel confident that they’ll be treated well by police officers, which can lead them to be more antagonistic toward police presence in their communities. That will only get worse if the officers who police those communities approach the job with racial prejudice.