Should LAPD crime newsletter be colorblind?

The frequent email newsletters sent out by Capt. William Murphy of the Northeast LAPD Division usually includes a run down of recent statistics and major crimes in his division, which stretches from Silver Lake and Echo Park to Eagle Rock and Highland Park. In February, Murphy wrote about two “male blacks suspects” believed responsible for armed robberies of Highland Park stores along Figueroa Street. The description of the suspects’ race bothered Carl Johnson, editor of the UGLA News, the newsletter of the Uptown Gay & Lesbian Alliance, whose membership is based in Northeast Los Angeles. Johnson, in the March issue of his newsletter, republished Murphy’s account of the Highland Park robberies but deleted the word “black.” He wrote Murphy an email explaining why, which lead to a pointed but polite exchange between Johnson, a longtime supporter of law enforcement, and the veteran police officer. In the current issue of UGLA News, Johnson published the email exchange, excerpted below:

“I was surprised to notice that in the report under Highland Park,
you referred to “two black male” suspects. Nowhere else in your report did you make a racial designation of this type. In our newsletter we will be deleting the word “black” as it seems out of place in this otherwise very professional and important update.” – Carl Johnson

“We only state the race of the suspects if it helps the residents
and/or business owners identify potential suspects. It’s unusual to have male blacks commit robberies in Highland Park (virtually all the crime is committed by Hispanics or Whites there) … If you have been reading the newsletter for a while you will notice that I do talk about the race of the suspects from time to time. Nothing sinister here (have talked about Hispanic, white, Asian suspects prior).” – William Murphy

“As you state, since “virtually all of the crime in NELA
is being commited by White and Hispanics,” why single out the few blacks in your newsletter? I attended an LAPD Forum with Chief Charlie Beck at the Gay and Lesbian Center in Los Angeles a few weeks ago. He spoke clearly and authoritatively about LAPD’s continuing effort to put an end to the stereotyping of LGBT folk. Unfortunately, the few black folk in NELA are now suspect.” – Carl Johnson

“Hi Carl: You have the right to your view
– do not agree at all with your response – but so be it. At some point you just have to trust us that we try to do the right thing. Take care. Bill” – William Murphy

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