Tragedies of the Commons

...a stray bullet from a gang fight struck 7-year-old Tajahnique Lee in the face [...] at least 20 people were within sight of the gunfight [...] but the case remains unsolved because not a single one will testify or even describe what they saw to investigators.

New York Times, A Little Girl Shot, and a Crowd That Didn't See

As appalling as this sounds, especially to white suburbanites who rarely have to worry about this degree of violence, the silence of the crowd makes perfect sense on an individual level. Each person was acting on a rational basis. He or she doesn't want to cooperate with the police because at best, they will be shunned by their community, and at worst, they and their families' lives are at risk. Whites who see this as a black or gang phenomenon are forgetting the Kitty Genovese case.

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