The proposal by British Prime Minister David Cameron to appoint former New York and Los Angeles police Commissioner Bill Bratton, credited with reducing crime in both these major cities, is making the news due to opposition from both Home Secretary Theresa May and from the ranks of the British police.
Bratton's candidacy is also illustrating the convergence between British and American crime. While we have not experienced the riots of the 1960s or the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, and nothing resembling the magnitude of London last week has yet occurred in the USA, an increasing number of American cities are coping with the phenomenon of flash mobs.
What is no less alarming is the increasing racial undertone to the crime problems.
The flash mobs in the United States have used text and instant messages to organize for assaults and looting, as was done in the UK.
The city of Philadelphia has been hit recently by such attacks and on July 29 a gang of youths congregated in the Center City shopping area and brutally attacked and robbed bystanders. One victim had to be hospitalized with a fractured skull.
The mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter, who calls himself a proud black man, went into action. He imposed a curfew on city youth compelling those under 13 to be home by 10 PM while older teens could stay out to midnight.
More importantly, parents of the children could face substantial fines in the case of curfew violations.
Nutter himself attacked the gangs in a speech at Mount caramel Baptist Church where he warned the black teenagers that by participating in the gangs and their activities"You damage yourself, you damage another person, you damage your peers, and quite honestly you damage your own race."
Nutter abandoned political correctness to concede that those participating in the crimes were mostly black.
He also criticized the failure of black fathers in providing parental guidance and abandoning their families, saying forcefully, "If you’re just hanging out there, maybe you’re sending them a check or bringing some cash by. That’s not being a father. You’re just a human ATM."
Nutter has been accused by other Philadelphia black politicians of not being a black mayor "just a mayor with dark skin." The mayor has rejected such criticism as ignorant.
At the Wisconsin State fair, blacks who attended the fair and an entertainment section began attacking and robbing white fairgoers.
This produced a document by two white Milwaukee aldermen, Bob Donovan and Joe Dudzik, who blamed the outbreak on the lack of parental supervision in the black community.
Back in Britain, the provocative historian David Starkey, who some would call a provocateur, also injected a racial explanation in stating that some white youth have been swept up in the black gang culture "What’s happened is that a substantial section of…. the whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion."
In contrast he said of David Lammy, the MP representing Totenham, where the riots broke out, “If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you’d think he was white.”
It could prove to be a volatile and dangerous mix if the social tensions become entwined with the racial tensions that are presumed long buried but are now resurfacing.