Murders skyrocketed in the United States in both 2020 and 2021, increasing 5 percent over 2020 and 44 percent over 2019, according to an analysis of crime trends released earlier this year by the Council on Criminal Justice (CCJ). That increase was felt the most in major urban areas, and affected black Americans more than any other demographic.
Just don’t tell that to the corporate media. They’re still obsessing over supposedly deadly and racist police.
The Washington Post recently featured a front-page story on an African immigrant family whose son was killed by police in Michigan. The angle was obvious: yet another example of how police in America are disproportionately killing blacks. Nor is this piece an anomaly at the Post. An editorial was provocatively titled “Another Black man killed by police: When is enough enough?” A prominently featured WaPo article earlier this month lamented that the Minneapolis police officer who fatally shot Amir Locke “during a predawn, no-knock raid in February” would not face charges (an interactive WaPo article a few days later detailed how no-knock raids result in “fatal encounters” disproportionately affecting the black community).
Of course, the Post is by no means the only outlet pushing this narrative. The point is always the same: (racist) police are perpetrators in unacceptable systemic violence against blacks, and outrage over the 2020 death of George Floyd has changed nothing.
But is that narrative accurate?
In a word, no. In 2020, 241 black Americans were killed by the police. As a percentage of the population of the country, that is indeed a disproportionate number when compared to other races. Yet focusing on that one data point obscures others. The total number of black murder victims in 2020 was 9,913. And most of those victims were killed by other black Americans. In other words, it is statistically far more likely for a black American to be killed by another black American than by a police officer.
Yet we are constantly told that black Americans as a demographic are terrified of being killed by cops. Why might that be? Perhaps it has something to do with the media and other elite institutions — academia, Hollywood, federal task forces — reinforcing this narrative of police officers as racist thugs who have no objection to killing racial minorities in the line of duty.
It also might have something to do with the fact that even our bureaucratic elites perpetuate this narrative. Consider the story of a white police officer in suburban Fairfax County, Virginia, who was recently acquitted of assaulting a black man. Fairfax County chief prosecutor Steve Descano explicitly tried to use race to impugn the police officer’s character, and in various public statements has sought to make the entire episode about race, declaring after the verdict that “true justice will be achieved when my Black and brown neighbors don’t have to fear for their well-being when they leave their homes.” This despite the fact that the judge declared that Descano’s office had violated the police officer’s rights, and that two of the jurors who exonerated the police officer were black.
As prominent black academic Glenn Loury has noted, twice as many whites as blacks are killed by police in this country every year. Though Loury rightly acknowledges that blacks die at the hands of the police disproportionate to their percentage of the American populace, he notes that “we are talking about three hundred black victims per year.” He adds: “These fatal incidents—which are extremely regrettable and sometimes reflect badly on the police—are nevertheless quite rare.”
Conservative intellectual Victor Davis Hanson in a recent article at New Criterion concludes much the same after evaluating the evidence. Observing that Black Lives Matter’s popularity surged on this precise narrative, he notes: “The two seminal events in the birth and growth of BLM offered little support for the organization’s charter indictments of a racist and venomous America waging a veritable war on blacks spearheaded by biased police.” Even the Washington Post’s own data, says Hanson, substantiates this inconvenient truth.
It’s ironic, but also terribly sad (and deadly). As Hanson explains, misidentifying the problem distracts from actual solutions. Indeed, defunding the police and releasing convicted felons have been egregiously “dangerous to the black communities of the inner cities.” The pandemic murder rate — commensurate with defund-the-police initiatives — fell hardest on black communities. Many analysts draw a straight line between defund the police and this increased murder rate among black Americans (called the “Ferguson Effect”).
In other words, corporate media and other elite institutions are complicit in perpetuating a narrative that has had a direct negative impact on the safety and welfare of the black community. Though they claim to be presenting the truth out of an abiding concern for black Americans, liberal elites’ disinformation is reinforcing opinions that have a direct impact on policies at the local, state and federal level. And these policies have an immediate, adverse effect on both blacks and the police forces commissioned to serve and protect them.
Americans should expect better from those who claim to be devoted to protecting and preserving the public order. The false narratives have not only vitiated public trust in the police, but resulted in the unnecessary deaths of more Americans.