A recent paper by University of Arizona sociologist Jennifer Carlson affords some perception into the police’s habits. She carried out dozens of hours of interviews about weapons with 79 police chiefs in three states — Michigan, California, and Arizona — to attempt to higher perceive the way in which police see armed civilians.
Carlson discovered that police leaders tended to see armed civilians as allies, possibly even casual deputies — supplied they match a set of racially coded descriptors.
“Police chiefs articulated a position of gun populism based on a presumption of racial respectability,” Carlson writes. “‘Good guys with guns’ were marked off as responsible in ways that reflected white, middle-class respectability.”
This helps us perceive what occurred in Wisconsin as not a bug within the code of American policing, however a function. There’s a cause anti-police violence protesters have been met with crackdowns, whereas armed anti-lockdown protesters may menace the Michigan Capitol with out incident.
Police — who’re closely white, closely male, and overwhelmingly conservative politically — see weapons as a scourge after they’re within the improper hands. But the “wrong hands” are typically Black and brown ones. When respectable-seeming white folks arm themselves, police welcome their intervention — even, or maybe particularly, in a tense scenario what place the potential for escalation to violence is admittedly excessive.
– Zach Beauchamp in Why police encouraged a teenager with a gun to patrol Kenosha’s streets