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Event Public Safety, Culture, Public Safety Policing, Crime Control, Race, Policing, Crime Control

Is Policing Racially Biased?: An Intelligence Squared Debate

Wednesday January 2017


Heather Mac Donald Thomas W. Smith Fellow
Contributing Editor, City Journal

On January 11, the Manhattan Institute's Heather Mac Donald participated in a debate on race and policing in America, hosted by Intelligence Squared U.S.

The motion for the night's debate was "Policing Is Racially Biased." Ms. Mac Donald and her partner, Harry Stern, argued against the motion.

Pre-Debate Vote: 57% For, 16% Against, 27% Undecided

Final Vote: 60% For (+3), 28% Against (+12), 12% Undecided (-15)

Debate details

In 2014, the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, set off a wave of protests and sparked a movement targeting racial disparities in criminal justice.  Since then, there have been other controversial deaths of African Americans at the hands of law enforcement that have captured the public’s attention, from Tamir Rice, to Philando Castile.  But there are some who say that these encounters, many of them recorded, have fed a narrative of biased policing that the data does not back up, vilifying people who are trying to do good in a difficult job that often puts them in harm’s way.  What are the statistics, and how should we interpret them?  How have recent incidents shaped our view of policing?  Does crime drive law enforcement’s use of force, or is there racial bias?


Marq Claxton (Black Law Enforcement Alliance & Retired NYPD Detective)

Gloria Browne-Marshall (Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, John Jay College of Criminal Justice & Former Civil Rights Attorney)


Heather Mac Donald (Thomas W. Smith Fellow, Manhattan Institute & Author, The War on Cops)

Harry Stern (Attorney, Rains Lucia Stern & Former Police Officer)

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