By Tom Quiner
A Quiner’s Diner reader wrote:
“While some in the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have made it partisan, we should not completely write off the whole movement. I’m sure we can agree the media shares much of the blame for making it partisan.”
My first reaction is that seldom have I seen a more partisan, non-substantive movement. Democratic candidates for president, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, quickly embraced the movement’s insistence that systemic racism defines this country.
Said Ms. Clinton:
“We have to face up to the hard truth of injustice and systemic racism.”
In other words, we’re a nation of racists.
Said Mr. Sanders:
“As President, let me be very clear that no one will fight harder to end racism and reform our broken criminal justice system than I will. It is not acceptable to see unarmed people being shot by police officers.”
In other words, our cops are craven, racist killers. And in other words, the entire leadership of the Democratic Party has bought into the movement’s belief system, not some. This is a very partisan issue, notwithstanding the Quiner’s Diner reader’s contention stated at the outset.
The BLM movement was a spontaneous reaction to the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. Social media and the mainstream media exploded with a false narrative built on three myths:
- Michael Brown was unarmed. In fact, grand jury testimony revealed Mr. Brown was attempting to grab the officer’s gun to use against him.
- Mr. Brown was shot for stealing some cigars. In fact, he was caught on video robbing a store, which is why police contacted him. After trying to get the officer’s gun in the ensuing scuffle, he walked away, only to turn around and charge the officer. Mr. Brown was 6′ 4″ and 300 hundred pounds. The office fired in self-defense, according to eye witnesses.
- Mr. Brown was “executed” while trying to surrender. Again, eye witness accounts disproved this narrative.
The rush to judgement by Black activists, social media, the mainstream media, and Democratic politicians before our legal system had completed its investigation has led to violence and destruction throughout the country.
Okay, let’s set aside the false narrative of Michael Brown’s “execution” by the cops. Surely, there IS systemic racism in police departments throughout the rest of the country, right? Let’s check.
Heather MacDonald has dug into the data. She is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, she points out that the data contradicts the BLM premise of systemic racism:
•In 2015, officers killed 662 whites and Hispanics, and 258 blacks. (The overwhelming majority of all those police-shooting victims were attacking the officer, often with a gun.)
• Those 662 white and Hispanic victims of police shootings would make up 12% of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths. That is three times the proportion of black deaths that result from police shootings.
Some fire back that Blacks only make up 15% of the population, so these numbers don’t tell the whole story, which is somewhat true. On the other hand, most of the violence takes place in Black neighborhoods, as these numbers reveal:
• According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, blacks were charged with 62% of all robberies, 57% of murders and 45% of assaults in the 75 largest U.S. counties in 2009, though they made up roughly 15% of the population there.
As a result, the police have experienced disproportionate violence inflicted by Blacks, Ms. MacDonald’s research uncovered:
• According to FBI data, 40% of cop killers have been black. Officers are killed by blacks at a rate 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police.
Furthermore, white police officers are less likely to fire at black suspects than Hispanic or black police officers:
• 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”—that is, the mistaken belief that a civilian is armed.
• A 2015 study by University of Pennsylvania criminologist Greg Ridgeway, formerly acting director of the National Institute of Justice, found that, at a crime scene where gunfire is involved, black officers in the New York City Police Department were 3.3 times more likely to discharge their weapons than other officers at the scene.
I could go on, but you get the point.
Data does not support the narrative that ‘systemic’ racism pervades our police departments. Although I do not dismiss the entire BLM movement, it seems that they, along with their allies in the media and the Democratic Party, have chosen to demagogue the issue and spread mistruths and outright lies.
This is no way to have a national dialogue on race.