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May 16, 2016

Imprimis Apr 2016 V45#4 The Danger of “Black Lives Matter” [nc]

Imprimis
OVER 3,400,000 READERS MONTHLY
April 2016 • Volume 45, Number 4
A PUBLICATION OF HILLSDALE COLLEGE
The following is adapted from a speech delivered on April 27, 2016, at Hillsdale College’s
Allan P. Kirby, Jr. Center for Constitutional Studies and Citizenship in Washington, D.C.,
as part of the AWC Family Foundation Lecture Series.
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 presi

dential 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
The Danger of the “Black Lives
Matter” Movement
Heather Mac Donald
A u t h o r,
The War on Cops
HEATHER MAC DONALD
is the Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan
Institute and a contributing editor of
City Journal
. She earned a B.A.
from Yale University, an M.A. in English from Cambridge University,
and a J. D. from Stanford Law School. She writes for several newspapers
and journals, including
The Wall Street Journal
,
The New York Times
,
The New Criterion
, and
Public Interest
, and is the author of three books,
including
Are Cops Racist?
and
The War on Cops: How The New Attack
on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe
(for t hc om i ng Ju ne 2 016).
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2
HILLSDALE COLLEGE: PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERT Y SINCE 1844
venerated as a martyr. And now police offi

cers 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 move

ment’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.
Let’s be clear at the outset: police
have an indefeasible obligation to treat
everyone with courtesy and respect, and
to act within the confines of the law. Too
often, officers develop a hardened, obnox

ious attitude. It is also true that being
stopped when you are innocent of any
wrongdoing is infuriating, humiliating,
and sometimes ter

rifying. And needless
to say, every unjusti

fied police shooting
of an unarmed civil

ian is a stomach-
churning tragedy.
Given the his

tory of racism in this
country and the com

plicity of the police
in that history, police
shootings of black
men are particularly
and understandably
fraught. That history
informs how many
people view the police.
But however intoler

able and inexcusable
every act of police
brutality is, and while
we need to make sure
that the police are
properly trained in
the Constitution and
in courtesy, there is a
larger reality behind
the issue of policing, crime, and race that
remains a taboo topic. The problem of
black-on-black crime is an uncomfortable
truth, but unless we acknowledge it, we
won’t get very far in understanding pat

terns of policing.
* * *
Every year, approximately 6,000
blacks are murdered. This is a number
greater than white and Hispanic homi

cide 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 com

bined. 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 civil

ians, but other blacks. The astronomical
black death-by-homicide rate is a func

tion 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 police could
end all lethal uses
of force tomorrow
and it would have at
most a trivial effect
on the black death-
by-homicide rate.
The nation’s police
killed 987 civilians
in 2015, according to
a database compiled
by
The Washington
Post
. Whites were 50
percent—or 493—of
those victims, and
blacks were 26 per

cent—or 258. Most of
those victims of police
shootings, white and
black, were armed or
− ́
Imprimis
(im-pri-mis),
[Latin]: in the f irst place
EDITOR
Douglas A. Jeffrey
DEPUTY EDITORS
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COPY EDITOR
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Copyright © 2016 Hillsdale College
The opinions expressed in
Imprimis
are not
necessarily the views of Hillsdale College.
Permission to reprint in whole or in part is
hereby granted, provided the following credit
line is used: “Reprinted by permission from
Imprimis
, a publication of Hillsdale College.”
SUBSCRIPTION FREE UPON REQUEST.
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trademark registered in U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office #1563325.
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HILLSDALE COLLEGE: PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERT Y SINCE 1844
otherwise threatening the officer with
potentially lethal force.
The black violent crime rate would
actually predict that
more
than 26 per

cent 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 neigh

borhoods. In America’s 75 largest coun

ties in 2009, for example, blacks consti

tuted 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 kill

ers 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 move

ment. 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 acad

emy, holds that law enforcement actions
are racist if they don’t mirror popula

tion 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 robber

ies, and 66 percent of all violent crime,
according to victims and witnesses. 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 per

cent 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.
Officers hope against hope that they
will receive descriptions of white shoot

ing suspects, but it almost never hap

pens. 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 pre

dominantly black, the second neighbor

hood 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
f lood 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 resi

dents who deserve safety.
* * *
Who are some of the victims of
elevated urban crime? On March 11,
2015, as protesters were once again
converging on the Ferguson police head

quarters demanding the resignation of
the entire department, a six-year-old
boy named Marcus Johnson was killed
a few miles away in a St. Louis park, the
victim of a drive-by shooting. No one
protested his killing. Al Sharpton did
not demand a federal investigation. Few
people outside of his immediate com

munity know his name.
Ten children under the age of ten
were killed in Baltimore last year. In
Cleveland, three children five and
younger were killed in September.
A seven-year-old boy was killed in
Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend
by a bullet intended for his father. In
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HILLSDALE COLLEGE: PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERT Y SINCE 1844
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HILLSDALE COLLEGE: PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERT Y SINCE 1844
November, a nine-year-old in Chicago
was lured into an alley and killed by
his father’s gang enemies; the father
refused to cooperate with the police. In
August, a nine-year-old girl was doing
her homework on her mother’s bed in
Ferguson when a bullet fired into the
house killed her. In Cincinnati in July, a
four-year-old girl was shot in the head
and a six-year-old girl was left paralyzed
and partially blind from two separate
drive-by shootings. This mindless
violence seems almost to be regarded
as normal, given the lack of attention
it receives from the same people who
would be out in droves if any of these
had been police shootings. As horrific
as such stories are, crime rates were
much higher 20 years ago. In New York
City in 1990, for example, there were
2,245 homicides. In 2014 there were
333—a decrease of 85 percent. The drop
in New York’s crime rate is the steepest
in the nation, but crime has fallen at
a historic rate nationwide as well—by
about 40 percent—since the early 1990s.
The greatest beneficiaries of these
declining rates have been minorities.
Over 10,000 minority males alive today
in New York would be dead if the city’s
homicide rate had remained at its early
1990s level.
* * *
What is behind this historic crime
drop? A policing revolution that began
in New York and spread nationally, and
that is now being threatened. Starting
in 1994, the top brass of the NYPD
embraced the then-radical idea that the
police can actually prevent crime, not
just respond to it. They started gather

ing and analyzing crime data on a daily
and then hourly basis. They looked
for patterns, and strategized on tactics
to try to quell crime outbreaks as they
were emerging. Equally important, they
held commanders accountable for crime
in their jurisdictions. Department
leaders started meeting weekly with
precinct commanders to grill them on
crime patterns on their watch. These
weekly accountability sessions came to
be known as Compstat. They were
ruthless, high tension affairs. If a com

mander was not fully informed about
every local crime outbreak and ready
with a strategy to combat it, his career
was in jeopardy.
Compstat created a sense of urgency
about fighting crime that has never left
the NYPD. For decades, the rap against
the police was that they ignored crime
in minority neighborhoods. Compstat
keeps New York commanders focused
like a laser beam on where people are
being victimized most, and that is in
minority communities. Compstat spread
nationwide. Departments across the
country now send officers to emerging
crime hot spots to try to interrupt crimi

nal behavior before it happens.
In terms of economic stimulus alone,
no other government program has come
close to the success of data-driven polic

ing. In New York City, businesses that
had shunned previously drug-infested
areas now set up shop there, offering res

idents a choice in shopping and creating
a demand for workers. Senior citizens
felt safe to go to the store or to the post
office to pick up their Social Security
checks. Children could ride their bikes
on city sidewalks without their moth

ers worrying that they would be shot.
But 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 neigh

borhoods 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, dar

ing them to proceed with their duties.
Officers are worried about becoming
the next racist cop of the week and pos

sibly losing their livelihood thanks to an
incomplete cell phone video that inevita

bly fails to show the antecedents to their
use of force. Officer use of force is never
pretty, but the public is clueless about
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HILLSDALE COLLEGE: PURSUING TRUTH • DEFENDING LIBERT Y SINCE 1844
how hard it is to subdue a suspect who is
determined to resist arrest.
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 question

ing people hanging out on drug corners
at 1:00 a.m.—many cops worry that
doing so could put their careers on the
line. Police officers are, after all, human.
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?” I met an elderly cancer
amputee in the Mount Hope section of
the Bronx who was terrified to go to her
lobby mailbox because of the young
men trespassing there and selling drugs.
The only time she felt safe was when the
police were there. “Please, Jesus,” she said
to me, “send more police!” The irony is
that the police cannot respond to these
heartfelt requests for order without gen

erating the racially disproportionate sta

tistics 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 per

cent 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 vio

lent crime in May 2015 and dubbed it
“the Ferguson effect.” My diagnosis set
off a firestorm of controversy on the
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