Let me make one thing clear: there is a vast gulf between the social and political organization “Black Lives Matter” and someone — ANYONE — saying, “black lives matter.” Both versions of the word are important. And we all need to stop weaponizing each.
Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a social justice organization that got its start in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the outrage in the African American community following the police shooting death of Michael Brown. It turned into a national civil rights organization that has expanded across the nation. Because of Ferguson, Black Lives Matter’s focus has been on the killings of young African Americans at the hands of police from every level of law enforcement: federal, state, and local.
Additionally, BLM sponsored a number of demonstrations in several of the largest U.S. cities in protest to police shootings, some of which resulted in the death of blacks. In almost every one of the rallies or demonstrations, violence breaks out. In fact, many have begun to compare Black Lives Matters with ANTIFA, who seem to target rallies and meetings initiated as Free Speech rallies or conferences. Just take a look at what’s happened almost nightly in major cities across America like Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York City. It seems that in each city in each protest/demonstration/riot, the anger and furor escalates and turns into more and more aggressive actions in each.
ANTIFA is another story we’ve previously written about but are not the focus of this conversation. Please know, however, it seems to many BLM takes much of their demonstration and even violence planning from ANTIFA. (Or maybe it’s the other way around)
In our summary, we will address the fact that these and other far-left political groups seem to focus most of their attention on those from ethnic communities who are involved in incidents that are often racial and often end in the death of someone. They discovered that such violent acts are magnets for news coverage. Violent death makes for a good news story!
Instead of just throwing up our hands saying, “It doesn’t matter what we do or so, these people are going to harp on this claim: ‘police target blacks in almost all incidents that include some type of serious crime in which an African American is shot. They do so for purely racist and political purposes.'”
That’s been the police shooting story since half-way through Barack Obama’s first term as president. BLM supporters have built that into a narrative that accompanies every news story at every network, newspaper, and national television show when such killings are reported to Americans. Facts prove otherwise, which many minority Americans refuse to accept. This brings us today to ask not, “Is the storyline that police are responsible for most deaths in the African American community true?” What needs to be asked and answered instead is this:
Does the truth matter?
Evidently, not to groups like Black Lives Matter. That’s tragic for many reasons, not the least of which is that black lives are being lost as a result. When it comes to the subject of American police, blacks, and the deadly use of force, here is what we know:
A recent “deadly force” study by Washington State University researcher Lois James found that police officers were less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white or Hispanic ones in simulated threat scenarios. Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer analyzed more than 1,000 of officer-involved shootings across the country. He concluded that there is zero evidence of racial bias in police shootings. In Houston, he found that blacks were 24 percent less likely than whites to be shot by officers even though the suspects were armed or violent.
Does the truth matter?
An analysis of the Washington Post’s Police Shooting Database and of Federal Crime Statistics reveals that fully 12 percent of all whites and Hispanics who die of homicide are killed by cops. By contrast, only four percent of black homicide victims are killed by cops. But isn’t it a sign of bias that blacks make up 26 percent of police-shooting victims, but only 13 percent of the national population?
It is not, and common sense suggests why. Police shootings occur more frequently where officers confront armed or violently resisting suspects. Those suspects are disproportionately black.
According to the most recent study by the Department of Justice, although blacks were only about 15 percent of the population in the 75 largest counties in the U.S., they were charged with 62 percent of all robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults. In New York City, blacks commit over three-quarters of all shootings, though they are only 23 percent of the city’s population. Whites, by contrast, commit under two percent of all shootings in the city, though they are 34 percent of the population. New York’s crime disparities are repeated in virtually every racially diverse city in America. The real problem facing inner-city black communities today is not the police but criminals. In 2014, over 6,000 blacks were murdered, more than all white and Hispanic homicide victims combined. Who is killing them? Not the police, and not white civilians, but other blacks. In fact, a police officer is eighteen and a half times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer. If the police ended all use of lethal force tomorrow, it would have a negligible impact on the black death-by-homicide rate. In Chicago, through just the first six-and-a-half months of 2016, over 2,300 people were shot. That’s a shooting an hour during some weekends. The vast majority of the victims were black. During this same period, the Chicago police shot 12 people, all armed and dangerous. That’s one half of one percent of all shootings.
Does the truth matter?
If it does, here’s a truth worth pondering: There is no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police. The proactive policing revolution that began in the mid-1990s has dramatically brought down the inner-city murder rate and saved tens of thousands of black lives. Unfortunately, that crime decline is now in jeopardy.
Police officers are backing off of proactive policing in black neighborhoods, thanks to the false narrative that police officers are infected with homicidal bias. As a result, violent crime is going up. In cities with large black populations, homicides in the last two years rose anywhere from 54 percent in Washington D.C. to 90 percent in Cleveland. Overall, in the nation’s 56 largest cities, homicides rose 17 percent, a nearly unprecedented spike. Many law-abiding residents of high-crime areas beg the police to maintain order — precisely the type of policing that the ACLU, progressive politicians, BLM, and some in Congress denounce as racist. This is tragic because when the police refrain from proactive policing, black lives are lost—lost because of a myth.
The rancor escalated to never-before-seen heights with the death of Michael Floyd in Minneapolis. Since that day, the fires of anger and bitterness have stoked fires of division across the nation. Almost without fail, peaceful protests become peaceful demonstrations and marches. But almost without fail, those morph into violence, rioting, and looting.
It is uncontroverted that there are instances of white cops killing blacks — far more than we would hope would ever happen. Thankfully they are not in the numbers most in the public feel are certain. But the problem here is even though the best research and data conclude that there is no evidence that police are killing blacks just because they are black. Exclusively such incidents occur as a result of severe law-breaking acts and acts of violence.
OK, we’ve examined the statistics. They originate from very authentic and credible sources. And they’re quite conclusive in the finding that disproves the almost universal perception that police “in general” are killing blacks because they are blacks. But those statistics beg for answers to a question not part of the first segment of this conversation: What is the REAL reason for this conversation that is so necessary yet so damaging?
There’s a simple answer: No one yet has, on a national scale, offered a plausible solution. Find a peaceful way to resolve these differences is — and always has been — a monumental task which no one has completed. Many have tried, several have gotten started, but none so far have seen success.
Here’s the fearful part of where we find us today: those actively involved in these conversations have become so polarized, so far apart, it often seems a solution will NEVER be found. And even if a solution is identified, it is doubtful all sides in this crisis will agree. I think there is a group of people who are the loudest and most demanding in this that don’t even want resolution. They feed on the anger and hatred, the fear and the violence, the infliction of pain for which they know there’s no real price they will be forced to pay.
What we need is a “new” Martin Luther King, Jr. who could draw people of all races and backgrounds to him for a conversation. He taught that communication is the necessary element to begin resolution. When people speak “to” each other and not yell “at” each other, it’s much easier to finish a conversation and have substance to show for the labor.
It would help, too, if we didn’t have an industry that relies on conflict, confusion, and violence to self-perpetuate a need for their existence: the Media.
As we find ourselves inside of 90-days until an election, it would be wise for every American to pause just a moment and consider where they WANT to go in the near future. Then choose the best way under the best circumstances to get there. Open those conversations with others that live within your circle of influence. Challenge everyone to THINK instead of just ACTING.
We MUST find a way through this. And we can…I’m certain of that.