Two days ago (July 7, 2016), five police officers were shot dead in Dallas, Texas, and seven more wounded, all by a lone black gunman named Micah Xavier Johnson, during a “Black Lives Matter” protest.
Violence against police officers is becoming epidemic [we quote from PowerLine]. In Tennessee, Lakeem Scott shot four people, including a police officer, because he was “troubled by recent events involving African-Americans and law enforcement officers in other parts of the country”. In Georgia, earlier today, “a phony 911 caller ambushed a patrolman when he responded to the suspect’s request for help”. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation “said a motive for the shooting is not yet clear, but did mention the similarity between the crime and the shootings in Dallas”. This morning [July 8] in suburban St. Louis, “a motorist shot an officer three times as the officer walked back to his car during a traffic stop”. The officer is in critical but stable condition. So far in 2016, 34 police officers have been murdered in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, most by gunfire and others by vehicular assault. Many more have been wounded.
So has the race war that the “Black Lives Matter” movement is agitating for begun?
The following is an extract from the transcript of a highly informative speech (which needs to be read in full), delivered on April 27, 2016, at Hillsdale College, by Heather Mac Donald:
For almost two years, a protest movement known as “Black Lives Matter” has convulsed the nation. Triggered by the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the Black Lives Matter movement holds that racist police officers are the greatest threat facing young black men today. This belief has triggered riots, “die-ins”, the murder and attempted murder of police officers, a campaign to eliminate traditional grand jury proceedings when police use lethal force, and a presidential task force on policing.
Even though the U.S. Justice Department has resoundingly disproven the lie that a pacific Michael Brown was shot in cold blood while trying to surrender, Brown is still venerated as a martyr. And now police officers are backing off of proactive policing in the face of the relentless venom directed at them on the street and in the media. As a result, violent crime is on the rise.
The need is urgent, therefore, to examine the Black Lives Matter movement’s central thesis — that police pose the greatest threat to young black men.
I propose two counter hypotheses: first, that there is no government agency more dedicated to the idea that black lives matter than the police; and second, that we have been talking obsessively about alleged police racism over the last 20 years in order to avoid talking about a far larger problem — black-on-black crime. …
Every year, approximately 6,000 blacks are murdered. This is a number greater than white and Hispanic homicide victims combined, even though blacks are only 13 percent of the national population. Blacks are killed at six times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. In Los Angeles, blacks between the ages of 20 and 24 die at a rate 20 to 30 times the national mean. Who is killing them? Not the police, and not white civilians, but other blacks. The astronomical black death-by-homicide rate is a function of the black crime rate. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined. Blacks of all ages commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined, and at eleven times the rate of whites alone. …
The black violent crime rate would actually predict that more than 26 percent of police victims would be black. Officer use of force will occur where the police interact most often with violent criminals, armed suspects, and those resisting arrest, and that is in black neighborhoods.
In America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, for example, blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants, 57 percent of all murder defendants, 45 percent of all assault defendants — but only 15 percent of the population. Moreover, 40 percent of all cop killers have been black over the last decade. And a larger proportion of white and Hispanic homicide deaths are a result of police killings than black homicide deaths — but don’t expect to hear that from the media or from the political enablers of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Twelve percent of all white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by police officers, compared to four percent of all black homicide victims. If we’re going to have a “Lives Matter” anti-police movement, it would be more appropriately named “White and Hispanic Lives Matter”.
Standard anti-cop ideology, whether emanating from the ACLU or the academy, holds that law enforcement actions are racist if they don’t mirror population data. New York City illustrates why that expectation is so misguided. Blacks make up 23 percent of New York City’s population, but they commit 75 percent of all shootings, 70 percent of all robberies, and 66 percent of all violent crime … Add Hispanic shootings and you account for 98 percent of all illegal gunfire in the city. Whites are 33 percent of the city’s population, but they commit fewer than two percent of all shootings, four percent of all robberies, and five percent of all violent crime. These disparities mean that virtually every time the police in New York are called out on a gun run — meaning that someone has just been shot — they are being summoned to minority neighborhoods looking for minority suspects. …
This incidence of crime means that innocent black men have a much higher chance than innocent white men of being stopped by the police because they match the description of a suspect. This is not something the police choose. It is a reality forced on them by the facts of crime.
The geographic disparities are also huge. In Brownsville, Brooklyn, the per capita shooting rate is 81 times higher than in nearby Bay Ridge, Brooklyn — the first neighborhood predominantly black, the second neighborhood predominantly white and Asian. As a result, police presence and use of proactive tactics are much higher in Brownsville than in Bay Ridge. Every time there is a shooting, the police will flood the area looking to make stops in order to avert a retaliatory shooting. They are in Brownsville not because of racism, but because they want to provide protection to its many law-abiding residents who deserve safety. …
The crime victories of the last two decades, and the moral support on which law and order depends, are now in jeopardy thanks to the falsehoods of the Black Lives Matter movement. Police operating in inner-city neighborhoods now find themselves routinely surrounded by cursing, jeering crowds when they make a pedestrian stop or try to arrest a suspect. Sometimes bottles and rocks are thrown. Bystanders stick cell phones in the officers’ faces, daring them to proceed with their duties. Officers are worried about becoming the next racist cop of the week and possibly losing their livelihood thanks to an incomplete cell phone video that inevitably fails to show the antecedents to their use of force. …
As a result of the anti-cop campaign of the last two years and the resulting push-back in the streets, officers in urban areas are cutting back on precisely the kind of policing that led to the crime decline of the 1990s and 2000s. Arrests and summons are down, particularly for low-level offenses.
Police officers continue to rush to 911 calls when there is already a victim. But when it comes to making discretionary stops — such as getting out of their cars and questioning people hanging out on drug corners at 1:00 a.m.—many cops worry that doing so could put their careers on the line. …
When they are repeatedly called racist for stopping and questioning suspicious individuals in high-crime areas, they will perform less of those stops. That is not only understandable — in a sense, it is how things should work. Policing is political. If a powerful political block has denied the legitimacy of assertive policing, we will get less of it.
On the other hand, the people demanding that the police back off are by no means representative of the entire black community. Go to any police neighborhood meeting in Harlem, the South Bronx, or South Central Los Angeles, and you will invariably hear variants of the following: “We want the dealers off the corner.” “You arrest them and they’re back the next day.” “There are kids hanging out on my stoop. Why can’t you arrest them for loitering?” “I smell weed in my hallway. Can’t you do something?” … The irony is that the police cannot respond to these heartfelt requests for order without generating the racially disproportionate statistics that will be used against them in an ACLU or Justice Department lawsuit.
Unfortunately, when officers back off in high crime neighborhoods, crime shoots through the roof.
Our country is in the midst of the first sustained violent crime spike in two decades. Murders rose nearly 17 percent in the nation’s 50 largest cities in 2015, and it was in cities with large black populations where the violence increased the most. Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate last year was the highest in its history. Milwaukee had its deadliest year in a decade, with a 72 percent increase in homicides. Homicides in Cleveland increased 90 percent over the previous year. Murders rose 83 percent in Nashville, 54 percent in Washington, D.C., and 61 percent in Minneapolis. In Chicago, where pedestrian stops are down by 90 percent, shootings were up 80 percent through March 2016.
I first identified the increase in violent crime in May 2015 and dubbed it “the Ferguson effect“. …
In August 2015, an officer in Birmingham, Alabama, was beaten unconscious by a convicted felon after a car stop. The suspect had grabbed the officer’s gun, as Michael Brown had tried to do in Ferguson, but the officer hesitated to use force against him for fear of being charged with racism. Such incidents will likely multiply as the media continues to amplify the Black Lives Matter activists’ poisonous slander against the nation’s police forces. The number of police officers killed in shootings more than doubled during the first three months of 2016. In fact, officers are at much greater risk from blacks than unarmed blacks are from the police. Over the last decade, an officer’s chance of getting killed by a black has been 18.5 times higher than the chance of an unarmed black getting killed by a cop.
The favorite conceit of the Black Lives Matter movement is, of course, the racist white officer gunning down a black man. According to available studies, it is a canard. A March 2015 Justice Department report on the Philadelphia Police Department found that black and Hispanic officers were much more likely than white officers to shoot blacks based on “threat misperception,” i.e., the incorrect belief that a civilian is armed. …
The April 2015 death of drug dealer Freddie Gray in Baltimore has been slotted into the Black Lives Matter master narrative, even though the three most consequential officers in Gray’s arrest and transport are black. There is no evidence that a white drug dealer in Gray’s circumstances, with a similar history of faking injuries, would have been treated any differently.
We have been here before. In the 1960s and early 1970s, black and white radicals directed hatred and occasional violence against the police. The difference today is that anti-cop ideology is embraced at the highest reaches of the establishment: by the President, by his Attorney General, by college presidents, by foundation heads, and by the press.
The presidential candidates of one party are competing to see who can out-demagogue President Obama’s persistent race-based calumnies against the criminal justice system, while those of the other party have not emphasized the issue as they might have.
I don’t know what will end the current frenzy against the police. What I do know is that we are playing with fire, and if it keeps spreading, it will be hard to put out.
It keeps spreading.