'Because they can get away with it': Why African Americans are blamed for crimes they didn't commit: Experts

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African Americans make up 49% of wrongful convictions since 1989.
'Because they can get away with it': Why African Americans are blamed for crimes they didn't commit: Experts

A panicked white woman in New York City's Central Park calls 911 to say that a black man threatened her and her dog.

A Florida mom claims two black men abducted her son, who had autism, and was later found dead.

But the harrowing story from Manhattan was just that -- a tall tale about not about a potential assailant, but a bird watcher. And the terrified mother, police say, was never confronted by two abductors, but instead has been charged with killing her son.

Both the phony 911 call and the alleged kidnapping story follow, experts say, the stereotypical notion of black men as criminals and the ingrained racism that has existed in American society for generations. Although some may find it shocking that people are still resorting to these tropes, experts say that a culture of relative impunity has allowed it.

"It's because they can get away with it. They do it because the criminal justice system is not going to give them consequences," said Gloria Browne-Marshall, professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Patricia Ripley, the Florida mom, was charged with first-degree premeditated murder on May 23 after Miami, Florida, police said that in her initial report her son, who was non-verbal, was abducted by "two black men" during a carjacking was a farce.

During the manhunt for the two vaguely described alleged abductors, police say they found surveillance video that allegedly showed 45-year-old Ripley attempting to drown her son in a canal. Police say neighbors heard screams and rescued the boy, but an hour later, Ripley allegedly drowned the child in another canal, police said. Ripley is expected to be arraigned on June 12 and it was not clear if she had an attorney. "We don't agree about what they said about my wife," said Aldo Ripley, the father of Alejandro Ripley, after Patricia Ripley's bond hearing on May 23.

This photo provided by…
Christina Carrega
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