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Taking a Closer Look at Black Lives Matter

On Monday night, the Black Lives Matter protest came to the sleepy beach town of Huntington Beach, California: about 500 protesters, most of them white, denouncing police brutality against black men.

A diverse group of students, retirees and mothers with children faced off against about 200 police officers, some mounted on horses, many of them Hispanic.

There had been a report that more ominous Antifa demonstrators were being bused in to loot local shops, so about 30 stores had boarded up their windows with plywood, just in case. The police found weapons hidden in several alleys, including cinder blocks, weights and rocks, indicating plans for possible violence.

Yet in the end, little happened. The demonstrators chanted “I Can’t Breathe” at the cops, held up signs for TV camera crews, then left. This is what occurred in most small and medium towns across America.

But in America’s cities, it’s a different story.

For a week now, Americans have been sitting in front of their televisions, transfixed, as cities across the United States erupt in riots not seen since the 1960s. At least 40 major cities have imposed curfews, with 23 calling in units of America’s National Guard to restore order.

After two months of strict lock-downs engineered primarily by Democratic mayors and governors, some 40 million Americans are now unemployed, most of them without savings, many with no hope of returning to work.

When people ventured out to beaches or parks for fresh air, some of the overzealous mayors and governors ordered arrests and imposed U.S. $7,000 fines.

Not surprisingly, the entire country, like the entire world, has been on edge for weeks.

And then came the tragic death of George Floyd, an African American man killed or allowed to die on May 25 at the hands of Minneapolis’s ethnically diverse police department.

Like the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles nearly 30 years ago, the brutal treatment of Floyd triggered an explosion among disparate groups across the country – the black community, extreme left groups like Antifa, and run-of-the-mill criminals, thugs and looters.

Most Americans, including most police officers, appear to be sincerely outraged by what happened to Floyd. Police chiefs across the country denounced the actions of the officer involved.

Yet what happened to Floyd was hardly unique – and not confined to black males.

Three years ago, a 40-year-old Australian yoga instructor named Justine Damond called the Minneapolis police to report what she thought was a sexual assault then taking place.

When Minneapolis police arrived around 11:30 pm, Damond ran up to the squad car to report what she had heard. One of the police officers, a Somali immigrant named Mohamed Mohamed Noor, reached across his partner in his squad car and, through the car’s open window, shot Damond in the chest, killing her.

There were no riots for Damond, no quick arrests for the officer involved.

Instead, nine months after the shooting, a warrant was finally issued for Noor’s arrest. He was convicted a year later of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, a conviction the Somali Police Association said was racist.

According to The Washington Post’s Fatal Force database, which claims to track every police shooting in the United States, since 2015 America’s various police agencies have shot or otherwise killed a total of 5,360 people – about three per day on average.

Of those, 887 were Hispanic, 1,262 were black, and 2,412 were white. Another 799 were unknown or “other.”

The media often highlight the cases involving black men, because that fits the narrative of “systemic” white racism, but the reality is that police shootings are not perpetrated solely, or even primarily, against black males.

There are literally hundreds of cases every year of American police shooting to death white males (and a few females) who confront police with weapons, or, in a handful of egregious cases, fail to comply with police orders.

In December 2010, a drunk white man named Douglas Zerby, 35, was sitting on his porch in Long Beach, California, playing with his garden hose. Responding to a false report that a man might have a gun, two police officers approached, and, seeing the hose and without issuing any commands, opened fire, shooting Zerby 12 times. The Long Beach prosecutor declined to press charges against the two officers.

In 2011, a white homeless man, Kelly Thomas, the son of a retired L.A. Police Officer, was killed by three members of the Fullerton, California police department when they beat him to death for failing to obey their commands. The officers were eventually tried for second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter but acquitted by a jury.

In 2012, two police officers in the sleepy community of Bainbridge Island, Washington, responded to a call of a mentally ill man, who was white, yelling in the garage apartment of his parents. One of the officers ordered the man to drop an axe he was holding and, when he refused, shot him dead. A jury acquitted the officer of using excessive force.

Examples such as these fail to mollify media critics who claim the police are inherently racist.

The critics point out that, while more whites are killed annually by police than blacks, blacks are only 12.1 percent of the U.S. population.

The critics say that this means that African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by American police than are white people – 30 deaths per million for blacks versus 12 deaths per million for whites — and point to this fact as proof that “systemic” racism permeates American society in general and the police in particular.

“There are two viruses killing Americans,” said CNN anchor Don Lemon after the riots began. “Covid-19 and racism”.

Yet supporters of the police say that the shooting statistics don’t tell the whole story.

For one thing, about 50 police officers are shot and killed in the line of duty each year, some from deliberate ambushes.

Every police officer knows of incidents in which a cop inadvertently stepped into an ambush and paid with his or her life – such as the five officers killed in Dallas in 2016 when they were ambushed by a black military veteran named Micah Xavier Johnson.

Johnson, who watched Black Lives Matters protests over and over on TV, told friends that “he wanted to kill white people, especially white officers.”

In addition, when it comes to interracial violence blacks are many times more likely to commit violence against whites than whites are against blacks.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice statistics, in 2018 there were 547,948 acts of violence perpetrated by black offenders against white victims… compared to 56,915 acts of violence committed by white offenders against black victims.

When it comes to homicide generally, the offending rate for African Americans is almost eight times higher than for whites, and the victim rate six times higher.

Thus, if racism is defined by acts of violence, it would seem that black racism is at least as much of a problem in America as white racism.

Plus, a study of police shootings by Michigan State University professor Joseph Cesario found that white police officers are not more likely to shoot minority citizens than non-white officers for a very simple reason: most of the shootings of black suspects by police are done by black police officers, not white ones.

“We found that the race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot,” Cesario said. “If anything, black citizens are more likely to have been shot by black officers, but this is because black officers are drawn from the same population that they police. So, the more black citizens there are in a community, the more black police officers there are.”

Thus, it turns out that the entire premise behind the current round of riots – that American police are inherently racist and more likely to shoot or cause harm to black offenders than to white ones – is likely false in two different ways.

Not only are more whites killed by police every year than blacks, but, if the Cesario study is accurate, then most shootings of black offenders are done by black officers, not white officers.

The cases the media constantly highlight – such as unarmed black men being shot or choked – are relatively rare and, thanks to improved training, decreasing.

According to The Washington Post, of the 5,360 people killed by police over the past five years, only 321 were unarmed. Most involved suspects brandishing firearms (3,053) or knives (924) or driving vehicles towards police (126).

In the end, stoking the flames of racial hatred, as the media and the political left are now doing so enthusiastically, ultimately serves no one.

Despite what left-wing activists claim, studies have shown that riots, violence and looting usually trigger an electoral backlash that bolsters conservative political parties – as occurred with the election of Richard Nixon following the 1968 riots.

In the ultimate irony, it could well turn out that the looters now stealing TVs and beating up old women will only succeed in re-electing Donald Trump.

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This article has been republished from MercatorNet under a Creative Commons license.

[Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons-Guettarda, CC BY-SA 4.0]

Image Credit: [Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons-Guettarda, CC BY-SA 4.0]
Robert Hutchinson

Robert Hutchinson

Robert J. Hutchinson is the author of many works of popular history, including, most recently, What Really Happened: The Lincoln Assassination (2020).

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Themjmillers
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The burned out streets of Minneapolis and the beating of truck drivers doing their jobs is America’s future in a democrat controlled nation!
 
 

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Nicos
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America in particular, and the West in general, have inherited a vast racial legacy from the colonial era, clearly there is still widespread racism going on, to deny that is itself part of the racist agenda. Africa Americans are disproportionately criminalised and imprisoned. The discrimination is not just physical aggression but economic and psychological too. It may well be that the facts presented in this essay are true, perhaps African American men are more likely to be involved in some provocation with the police, and more likely to be victims, but facts without a wider context are meaningless. If you victimise a group of people over a long time then some of them will react badly, under enough social, economic, and emotional strain this would happen to any large group. Is s man mad simply because of his choices, or because of his experiences in life ? With some it's s bit if both, but with others it's much more one thing than the other. This article seems to deny there is any racism in the police and it would be strange if there weren't as police are people too, a reflection of society, many on the police are against racism, like in society, yet there are also racist attitudes in some of the police, reflected in the disproportionately larger number of African Americans killed, than whites, to deny this is an issue is itself a racist attitude, yet it would just as wrong to exaggerate the issue and accuse all police, or even a majority. The racist police don't represent all police, just as the violent rioters don't represent all African Americans, when the masses are reduced to one what then is one reduced to, a stereotype of some sort ?!
 
 

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Al
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Calculating the rate of black or white deaths at the hands of police per population (per 100,000 or per million) is not a very good way to calculate the risk. One is at risk of being killed by a police officer when one has an encounter with the police. Since the number of blacks killed by the police (numerator) is lower than the number of whites and the number of black encounters with the police (denominator) is higher (probably) due to the fact that most 911 calls come from minority communities, the rate of black homicides by police is most likely lower than the rate of white homicides by police. I have not seen anyone calculate the rate this way and whether or not it turns out to be true, it is certainly a much better way to calculate the rate than by population. Fact based narratives are extremely important because the narrative determines how we feel about America and about each other.
 
 

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Medium-Comment
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What the article needs are statistics on what percentage of crimes are committed overall by each race and how it relates to the amount of people shot by police. Given that I know that Blacks commit more crimes than whites, as a total amount of crimes, the fact that less are killed, means that in fact whites are 3 times more likely to be killed by police.
 
 

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Simisolaife
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This article is clearly written from the perspective of the most dangerous type of racist. A racist who actually thinks he is an intellectual. There is nothing smart about passing off skewed numbers and an extremely biased perspective as fact.
 
 

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Will
No question that "figures don't lie but liars know how to figure", however all you did was call the author names and assume. Dispute the numbers or conclusions reached with a data set that can be examined and anyalized instead of calling names and offering nothing that can be refuted. I'd suggest you take a look at Wilfred Reilly's book "Hate Crime Hoax: How the Left is Selling a Fake Race War". He's a black professor at KSU and supports everything with proper research.
High flyin
Bulverising at its most accurate. The author does not echo your beliefs so therefore he is a racist and all points are wrong? And the numbers are skewed? And of course his perspective is biased. It's called an opinion. Perhaps you could offer a better perspective with supporting arguments rather than just offering insults? That may actually advance your position.
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