Like so many of its neighbors, Dardanelle, Arkansas may have had an underlying agenda in passing breed-specific legislation (BSL) on Monday, November 4, 2013, when all but one of its council members voted to pass a pit bull ban. In communities attempting to “revitalize,” city councils often pass BSL in an attempt to rid the up-and-coming areas of so-called pit bulls and their owners, who are often minorities.
For instance, almost 22% of Dardanelle’s population, according to census data, is Latino or Hispanic, and almost 5% is African-American. So who do you think Dardanelle and other surrounding cities are targeting with their pit bull ban?
We have seen this before. Burgeoning “revitalizing” cities don’t want to be perceived as being racist, so they pass legislation, like BSL, which will actually target minorities, but in an indirect way. It’s still racial profiling, but without being conspicuous.
Why racial profiling? Because there is an underlying assumption that minorities, particularly minorities with pit bulls, are criminals.
Dardanelle admitted they have a crime problem when Police Chief Montie Sims said,
. . . law enforcement has increasingly seen vicious dogs, especially pit bulls, in drug houses, which makes the job of his officers more difficult.
And since we have often heard elected officials say that only drug dealers, gang bangers, and dog fighters own pit bulls “in those neighborhoods,” of course we know just exactly who they’re talking about. Minorities certainly get the message with encroaching legislation they know is aimed at them, and they then tend to move to other areas of the city or its outskirts, which is of course most likely the point of the BSL in the first place.
Perhaps Dardanelle believes that if it gets rid of pit bulls, minorities and crime will go with them. This is of course a ridiculous notion since it presupposes that only minorities own so-called pit bulls, and only minorities commit crimes.
Winnipeg, Manitoba tried banning pit bulls in the 90s when they had a crack house problem, and all their BSL did was increase bite rates from other breeds of dog because the drug dealers just switched to owning and abusing other breeds. Why does Dardanelle think their BSL will be any different?
No one can say for sure that racial profiling is going on in places like Dardanelle, Dover, Garland County, Caddo Valley, West Memphis, Springdale, and Marion. But when a majority of a city council (Aldermen Kenny George, Scott Moore, Julia Ann Taylor and Kenneth Taylor voted for the pit bull ban) like Dardanelle’s passes breed-specific legislation after it claims to be focusing on “revitalizing” its city and as it has over one-quarter of its citizenry representing minorities, then you can certainly make an educated guess as to what’s going on.
Yes, and speaking of the pit bull ban vote tally, why was Dardanelle Alderman Bruce McConnell, who was the only alderman voting against the pit bull ban, the lone voice of reason? At Monday’s meeting, he said,
I primarily oppose this ordinance because I believe our citizens should have a right to own dogs of their own choosing . . . I believe the ordinance basically says we do not believe our citizens have the ability to control their dogs. And as the city cannot enforce current restrictions regarding the control of pets, I ask you to join me in refusing this ordinance because it goes against some of our basic rights.
Yes, indeed it does go against some of our most fundamental and vital constitutional rights. Was Alderman McConnell the only one to do any research?
Had others on the council done their research, they would have discovered, as Winnipeg did, that when you pass BSL to solve a crime problem, you’re going about the problem backwards; you’re actually targeting the victims, pit bulls, instead of the real problem, crime. Crack down on the crime problem and you’ll also be addressing animal abuse at the same time, and the community will be safer on two levels: Fewer drug houses and no dogs of any breed trained/abused by criminals to do bad things.