No one saw the sign that said, “No White People Allowed After Dark.” Maybe because it was dark. Or maybe it did not exist.
So when a white family pulled into a Baton Rouge gas station in a black neighborhood 10 p.m. Sunday night after a Mother’s Day celebration, they had no idea they were in danger. But they were.
Donald Dickerson, a black man, told them so, right before the assault began that would leave the father with a broken face, the mother unconscious, and the daughter badly bruised.
All because they were the wrong color in the wrong place.
WAFB television news captures the crime from police reports. The spokesman for the police department said a man wearing a pink shirt was in line trying to pay for gas when Donald Dickerson, 41, started making fun of him, leading to an argument.
“The defendant (Dickerson) approached the white male victim,” the police report stated.
It went on to read, “the defendant told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and he was not going to make it out.” The victim said that’s when he “was punched and knocked to the ground.”
At this time, his wife got out of the car and ran to help her husband. The victim said, “he continued to struggle with the defendant and was eventually knocked unconscious, which later he awoke in the hospital.”
His wife told police, “after running to help her husband, she remembers falling to the ground and (being) knocked unconscious.”
According to a close family friend, that’s when the couple’s teenage daughter got out of the car to check on her parents and, “observed a female punch her mother in the face, when her mother then fell to the concrete, hitting her head on the surface.”
The daughter was also punched in the face.
The man suffered a broken eye socket, a broken nose and several cuts on the face, said the police report.
Dickerson was charged with a felony and taken to jail. The other two involved in the assault were charged with misdemeanors, given tickets at the scene, and released.
No one has been charged with a hate crime. Police have not identified the victim or his family. So no one has had a chance to ask if he was aware he was in a black neighborhood. Or if he ever heard of Routine Activities Theory. Otherwise known as R.A.T.
R.A.T. played a central role last year in a Chicago court room where the city had to pay a white woman $22.5 million after she was arrested, then released into a black neighborhood in Chicago.
She was assaulted and tossed – or jumped – from a seven-story building, leaving her with permanent brain damage.
Harvard sociology professor Robert Sampson, one of the country’s top experts on R.A.T., testified the R.A.T. made it clear that a white person in a black neighborhood can reasonably expect to meet with violence.
The judge explained R.A.T. by saying the victim “was a white female in a predominantly black, poor neighborhood (and) she had a much higher risk of predatory victimization.”
Judge Frank Easterbrook went on: “She was lost, unable to appreciate her danger and dressed in a manner to attract attention. She is white and well-off while the local population is predominantly black and not affluent, causing her to stand out as a person unfamiliar with the environment and, thus, a potential target for crime.”
The city said R.A.T. was thinly disguised racial profiling and had no business at trial. But at the trial, R.A.T and race were everywhere – no matter how hard the city worked to keep it out. No matter how dedicated local media were to ignoring it.
Easterbrook said the situation was so transparently dangerous that Chicago police “might as well have released her into the lions’ den at the Brookfield Zoo.”
There is no indication that Dickerson knew anything about a competing theory called Critical Race Theory, popularized by one of Barack Obama’s professors at Harvard, Derrick Bell.
This theory says that white people, good or bad, are racist. As is every institution in America. Permanently.
For the more academically inclined, this explanation from the UCLA School of Public Affairs may be more complete:
Critical Race Theory recognizes that racism is engrained in the fabric and system of the American society. The individual racist need not exist to note that institutional racism is pervasive in the dominant culture. This is the analytical lens that CRT uses in examining existing power structures. CRT identifies that these power structures are based on white privilege and white supremacy, which perpetuates the marginalization of people of color.
This theory is popular with educators at all levels of school.
At first, the R.A.T. and C.R.T. might seem conflicting. But if you think about it, it is plain they both predict a similar result for white people who accidentally end up in black neighborhoods. At night. When there are no warning signs.