Heather Mac Donald, Washington Examiner, September 3, 2016
The Black Lives Matter movement has been feted repeatedly at the White House and honored at the Democratic National Convention. Hillary Clinton has incorporated its claims about racist, homicidal cops into her presidential campaign pitch.
And more recently, San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the National Anthem to protest the country’s treatment of black people, while pop singer Beyonce has made the movement the focal point of her performances.
Yet the Black Lives Matter movement is based on a lie, and not just the lie that a pacific Michael Brown was gunned down in cold blood by Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in August 2014.
The idea that the U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of racially driven police shootings is also false, and dangerously so. Several studies released this year show that police officers are less likely to shoot blacks than whites.
But just as Michael Brown continues to be venerated as a martyr to police brutality despite the Justice Department’s evisceration of the “hands up, don’t shoot” narrative, the media, activists and many politicians continue to traffic in demonstrable untruths about police shootings, race and crime.
The facts are these: Last year, the police shot 990 people, the vast majority armed or violently resisting arrest, according to the Washington Post’s database of fatal police shootings. Whites made up 49.9 percent of those victims, blacks, 26 percent. That proportion of black victims is lower than what the black violent crime rate would predict.
Blacks constituted 62 percent of all robbery defendants in America’s 75 largest counties in 2009, 57 percent of all murder defendants and 45 percent of all assault defendants, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, even though blacks comprise only 15 percent of the population in those counties.
Such racially skewed crime ratios are repeated in virtually all American metropolises. They mean that when officers are called to the scene of a drive-by shooting or an armed robbery, they will overwhelmingly be summoned to minority neighborhoods, looking for minority suspects in the aid of minority victims.
Gang shootings occur almost exclusively in minority areas. Police use of force is most likely in confrontations with violent and resisting criminals, and those confrontations happen disproportionately in minority communities.
You would never know it from the activists, but police shootings are responsible for a lower percentage of black homicide deaths than white and Hispanic homicide deaths. Twelve percent of all whites and Hispanics who die of homicide are killed by police officers, compared to 4 percent of black homicide victims.
That disparity is driven by the greatly elevated rates of criminal victimization in the black community. More blacks die each year from homicide, more than 6,000, than homicide victims of all other races combined. Their killers are not the police, and not whites, but other blacks. In Chicago this year through Aug. 30, 2,870 people, mostly black, were shot.
If you believed the Black Lives Matter narrative, you would assume that the assailants of those black victims were in large part cops. In fact, the police shot 17 people, most of whom were threatening lethal force, accounting for 0.6 percent of the total.
Gun-related murders of officers are up 52 percent this year through Aug. 30 compared to last year.
Police critics have never answered the question of what they think non-biased policing data should look like, in light of the vast differences in rates of criminal offending. Blacks commit homicide at eight times the rate of whites and Hispanics combined. Black males between the ages of 14-17 commit gun homicide at nearly 10 times the rate of white and Hispanic male teens combined.
Should police stops, arrests and those rare instances of police shootings nevertheless mirror population ratios, rather than crime ratios? President Obama apparently thinks so. Just hours before the assassination of five officers in Dallas on July 7, he criticized the police for arresting blacks at twice the rate of whites. The president remained assiduously silent about crime rates.
Why, then, the widespread perception that there is a law enforcement war on blacks? Because the mainstream media relentlessly focuses on a handful of police shootings of blacks and ignores police shootings of whites, as well as the crime that brings officers into disproportionate contact with black suspects.
Police officers are far more likely to be killed by a black person than vice versa. Over the past decade, black males comprised 40 percent of all cop killers, though they are 6 percent of the population. That means that an officer is 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.
But the Black Lives Matter narrative has nevertheless had an enormous effect on policing and public safety, despite its mendacity. Murders of officers are up 62 percent this year through Aug. 7 compared to last year. The cop assassinations are only a more extreme version of the Black Lives Matter-inspired hatred that officers working in urban areas encounter on a daily basis.
Officers are routinely surrounded by hostile, jeering crowds when they try to conduct a street investigation or make an arrest. Resistance to arrest is up, officers report. Cops have been repeatedly told by Obama and the media that pedestrian stops and public order enforcement (known as “broken windows policing”) are racist. In consequence, they are doing less of those discretionary activities in high-crime minority communities.
The result? Violent crime is rising in cities with large black populations. Homicides in 2015 rose anywhere from 54 percent in Washington, D.C., to 90 percent in Cleveland. In the nation’s 56 largest cities, homicides rose 17 percent in 2015, a nearly unprecedented one-year spike. In the first half of 2016, homicides in 51 large cities were up another 15 percent compared to the same period last year.