There are three theories of crime causation that describe the racial turmoil in Benton Harbor, Michigan. These theories are 1) the social learning theory, 2) the conflict theory, and 3) the strain theory (Siegel, 2003; Vold et al., 2002). African American residents in Benton Harbor claim that the problems in Benton Harbor are the result of Caucasians taking most of the money, jobs, and political power out of Benton Harbor (NEFAC, n.d.). Furthermore, the local police officers, who are mostly white, seem to target black drivers. Hence, crime is due to class conflict, limited resources, and limited job opportunities.
Social Learning Theory
In 1973, Albert Bandura developed his social learning of aggression (Vold…show more content… Basically, humans are conforming beings who are strongly influenced by the values and attitudes of the culture in which they live (Bartol & Bartol, 2008). In the U.S., which is a capitalistic society, the cultural goal is to achieve financial success. However, when the legitimate means to achieve this success are blocked, strain and frustration are generated (Siegel, 2003). Consequently, other methods, which may be defined as illegal by the dominant class, must be employed in order to achieve personal goals. This theory seems relevant in the Benton Harbor incident because residents have complained that there are few job opportunities in town and they have little hope of legitimately achieving…show more content… They were angry and protested high-speed police pursuit policies. During their complaints, they made threats against the Benton Harbor Police Department. In addition, according to local residents, on that same evening local residents gathered together at the crash site and began praying and singing church songs (Maass & Taylor, 2003). Local residents claim that the police arrived at the scene and told them to break it up and to vacate the premises. Residents claim that this angered them, that they were fed up with the police, and that they were not going to be pushed around anymore. Consequently, at 11:00 pm, street violence broke out (Hartzell, 2003). Residents began throwing bricks and bottles at the police (Ast & Eliasohn, 2003). Soon afterwards, three to four hundred rioters took to the streets. They began to set homes on fire, they shot at police, they dragged people from their cars and set fire to the cars, and they continued to throw rocks and bottles at police officers and firefighters, preventing them from helping victims (Aiken, 2003; Ast & Eliasohn; Hartzell, 2003). The police responded by using tear gas. However, the violence only grew. By the end of the first night, two homes were burned and residents continued to throw rocks and heavy objects at police officers and firefighters (BH riots,