A Black Man in a Hoodie Shot Me; So What?

Brian Beutler tells his story
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2013 10:20 AM CDT
Updated Aug 19, 2013 2:11 PM CDT

(Newser) – Five years ago, Brian Beutler was shot by a black man wearing a hoodie while walking the streets of Washington, DC. He tells the story in a compelling Salon column today for one reason: He wants people to understand that despite what happened to him, he does not support racial profiling. Think about it this way: "Canadians are highly overrepresented in the field of professional ice hockey, but it would be ridiculous for anyone to walk around Alberta presumptively asking strangers on the street for autographs," he writes. "Everyone who’s ever shot me was black and wearing a hoodie. There just aren’t any reasonable inferences to draw from that fact."

Yes, minorities may be statistically more likely to either commit or be victimized by crime, and that's an issue we need to deal with. But overall, crime is rare. Most people don't commit crimes, and if we start treating every minority person as a suspect, we'll end up with "a lot of false positives," Beutler writes. Of the thousands of black people and the thousands of people wearing hoodies with whom Beutler has crossed paths over the years, just one shot him. "To anyone whose instinct is to crouch defensively and treat everyone who resembles their attackers like criminals, I’m living proof that there’s another way." His full column is worth a read. (Read more stop and frisk stories.)

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