The War on Black Lives Matter Escalates to Accusations of Aiding and Abetting Murder
by Frank Vyan Walton –
This week Bill O’Reilly has decided to escalate his war on the Black Lives Matter movement by essentially arguing that the group is the source of a rise in the rate of black people being murdered across the U.S.
[O’Reilly] believes there is clearly a “violent subculture in the African-American community” but he thinks that the #BlackLivesMatter movement is forcing a “false narrative” about black people being shot on the public.
“Thousands more Americans are being murdered,” he said, “because police are being more passive since the Ferguson situation and the #BlackLivesMatter protests.”
“There is a violent sub-culture in the African-American community that should be exposed and confronted,” he continued. “Enter the Black Lives Matter crew which roams around the country promoting a false narrative that police officers are actively hunting down and killing blacks.”
And the interesting thing about this is that in order to justify his argument, O’Reilly pulls stats from a right-wing think tank that eerily echo and are supported by the same organization that provided biased racial stats to Dylann Storm Roof, who committed mass murderer in a black Charleston church.
Coincidence? Probably not.
Here’s video from an O’Reilly segment which includes “facts and figures” quoted from one Heather MacDonald of the Manhattan Institute, who then goes on to argue that murder rates are rising in cities with large African-American populations—and that’s the fault of Black Lives Matter because the cops are now just too darn scared of starring in an embarrassing viral video to do their jobs.
Here are some of those figures for those who prefer not to stomach the video.
There are those who would accept these numbers as fact without question, in the same way that Donald Trump retweeted similarly biased figures last year. The first problem with all this data is that the only source we have for who “committed” these violent acts simply can’t be trusted to accurately provide this type of data—and that source is the police.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics, which is the same core data used by Mac Donald, also provides information on police stops and use of force. What we know about exactly who police focus on and how often those people are actually, truly perpetrators of any crime at all shows us their bias quite clearly, as I’ve previously written.
o The most common reason for contact with police in 2008 was being a driver in a traffic stop (44.1%)
o Black drivers were about three times as likely as white drivers and about two times as likely as Hispanic drivers to be searched during a traffic stop.
But are these stops and searches justified? Are they finding more drugs and more guns on black drivers at least three times as often?
White New Yorkers make up a small minority of stop-and-frisks, which were 84 percent black and Latino residents. Despite this much higher number of minorities deemed suspicious by police, the likelihood that stopping an African American would find a weapon was half the likelihood of finding one on a white person.
Let me re-emphasize that they only found weapons half as often while searching for them three times as often. That’s in addition to the fact that 90 percent of those accosted by police under stop, question, and frisk were innocent and didn’t receive a ticket or summons for anything at all, which begs the question: How exactly did that policy “stop crime” again? If that seems skewed to you, it doesn’t stop there, as the BJS continues to document.
The table shows that the percentage of blacks that are arrested during traffic stops is twice (4.7 percent to 2.4 percent) as high as white drivers. And similarly, their likelihood of being ticketed is greater (58 percent to 53 percent)—although Latinos top them both at 62 percent—and their likelihood of receiving a written warning (14.8 percent to 17.7 percent) or a verbal warning (6.0 percent to 11.2 percent) is consistently lower.
A similar differential can be seen when it comes to officer uses of force against persons of different races and ages.
You can see that consistently from 2002 through 2008, black citizens encountering police received threats of force, or use of force at least three times more often than white citizens. Latino citizens were threatened with force, or had force used on them about twice as often.
If police are putting more focus on black people under the presumption that they are “more likely to be criminal and violent” as O’Reilly and MacDonald contend, then this is the very definition of “bias.” The results are arrest statistics that seem to show more black people being stopped, searched, and arrested even when, as shown above, they are actually less likely to be guilty of anything. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Still, it is police—with their ongoing bias—that determine who the “offenders” are when they “clear” a case—which really means they’ve simply arrested a suspect and referred that case to a court (which is about the same thing that happens when you get a traffic summons), not that there’s been a trial proving the allegation. This is what the FBI Uniform Crime report says about clearance by arrest and clearances by “exception means.”
In its clearance calculations, the UCR Program counts the number of offenses that are cleared, not the number of persons arrested. The arrest of one person may clear several crimes, and the arrest of many persons may clear only one offense. In addition, some clearances that an agency records in a particular calendar year, such as 2010, may pertain to offenses that occurred in previous years
Cleared by exceptional means
In certain situations, elements beyond law enforcement’s control prevent the agency from arresting and formally charging the offender. When this occurs, the agency can clear the offense exceptionally. Law enforcement agencies must meet the following four conditions in order to clear an offense by exceptional means. The agency must have:
- Identified the offender.
- Gathered enough evidence to support an arrest, make a charge, and turn over the offender to the court for prosecution.
- Identified the offender’s exact location so that the suspect could be taken into custody immediately.
- Encountered a circumstance outside the control of law enforcement that prohibits the agency from arresting, charging, and prosecuting the offender.
Examples of exceptional clearances include, but are not limited to, the death of the offender (e.g., suicide or justifiably killed by police or citizen); the victim’s refusal to cooperate with the prosecution after the offender has been identified; or the denial of extradition because the offender committed a crime in another jurisdiction and is being prosecuted for that offense. In the UCR Program, the recovery of property alone does not clear an offense.
So it seems that beside the fact they are counting the number of cases and not the number of “offenders,” that people who the police think are guilty—whether they are or not—who are subsequently killed by police are considered “clearances.” This puts them on par with a person who is arrested, or who prosecutors decide not to pursue a case against. Yet those “clearances” don’t mean that the police arrested or killed the correct person, or that they were or would have been ultimately convicted of anything. These aren’t the people who “committed” crimes, they’re the people who’ve only been accused of committing a crime. Let’s also remember that at least during traffic stops, which is the most frequent interaction between the public and officers, police tend to arrest black people at a 2:1 rate even though they are less likely to have done anything wrong. As a result almost all of our stats on who “committed” anything are essentially skewed against African Americans, thanks to biased police conduct.
If you apply a 2:1 correction for total arrests by race contrasting blacks and whites, the apparent disparity that O’Reilly speaks of completely disappears. The current 3 to 1 arrest rate between whites (6,214,197 total arrests in 2014) and blacks (2,549,655 total arrests) grows to ratio of 6 to 1, which is about the same as their relative percentages in the overall population. The real question then becomes, are blacks truly more violent and criminal—or are police more arrest- and trigger-happy when it comes to black suspects?
And if that question remains open, how exactly does Heather MacDonald know for a “fact” that “black men are eight times more likely to commit murder than whites or Hispanics”? It’s true black people get murdered at almost the same number as whites, and with a lower population you could argue blacks are “more likely to murder” if you assume nearly all blacks are killed by blacks. But that isn’t really the case and no one can truly claim that it is, since the number of unsolved murders of black people is 40 percent, compared to just 24.8 percent for unsolved murder cases with white victims. Even if MacDonald’s numbers were correct here and restoring so-called “more aggressive” policing were justified or effective, it would still also mean that young black men would continue to be eighttimes more likely to get murdered. Meanwhile, the chance of their murderers being caught and the cases solved are only about 55 percent with practically no chance of those murderers going to death row for it.
Perhaps we should ask the people who rely on figures like hers, such as the Council of Conservative Citizens and their spokesman Jared Taylor.
Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has just published a table of statistics on race and violent crime that she received from the Department of Justice. For the first time in figures of this kind, DOJ has treated Hispanics as a separate category rather than lumping them in with whites. These data cover all violent crimes except murder, but the number of murders is tiny compared to other violent crimes.
This table can be used for a number of interesting calculations. First, we find that during the 2012/2013 period, blacks committed an average of 560,600 violent crimes against whites, whereas whites committed only 99,403 such crimes against blacks. This means blacks were the attackers in 84.9 percent of the violent crimes involving blacks and whites. This figure is consistent with reports from 2008, the last year DOJ released similar statistics. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was the year Mr. Obama was elected president.
Interestingly, we find that violent interracial crime involving blacks and Hispanics occurs in almost exactly the same proportions as black/white crime: Blacks are the attackers 82.5 percent of the time, while Hispanics are attackers only 17.5 percent of the time.
Blacks were the attackers in 84.9 percent of the crimes involving black and whites? Might there be a problem with that figure? And why does the “Council of Conservative Citizens” sound so familiar? Perhaps because that specific figure and that specific group were the source that sparked mass murderer Dylann Storm Roof—and it just so happens that the Bureau of Justice Statistics refutes those figures.
Statistics that apparently were cited as inspiration by the man accused of killing nine people last week at a historic black church were not portrayed in context on the website Dylann Roof was reading, statisticians with the U.S. Department of Justice are saying.
“A similar percentage of whites experienced violence from blacks as blacks experienced from whites,” Bureau of Justice Statistics statistician Lynn Langton said Wednesday.
Langton works for the U.S. Department of Justice division that prepared the 2008 report the white supremacist organization, the Council of Conservative Citizens, used in claiming that 83 percent of violent, interracial crimes were committed by blacks against white victims.
In a manifesto attributed to Roof, the 21-year-old says he felt compelled to act after reading the damning statistic on the Conservative Citizens’ website.
The national organization’s president, Longview resident Earl Holt III, said Monday that the mainstream media refuses to report that statistic, then closed his door on a News-Journal reporter and has relied on an organization spokesman to field media queries.
Spokesman Jared Taylor said Wednesday the organization stands by its reading of the 2008 National Crime Victimization Survey.
This is the relevant table from that 2008 survey.
What it shows is that crimes “committed” by whites against blacks were 15.9 percent, and crimes committed by blacks against whites was 15.4 percent. If you do the math the total number of the former is 90,717 crimes (15 percent of 570,000) while the latter is 429,475 crimes. In CCC and MacDonald-land, Since B is bigger than A, then blacks are “more” violent that whites. Simple.
Yeah, but that still doesn’t get us to “82.5 percent” of anything—unless they’re claiming that the 90,717 and 429,475 represent all the interracial crimes, bringing us to a total of 520,192—and the black portion of that number is in fact 82.5 percent. Yet 520,192 isn’t the total of interracial violent crimes. That’s doing the math while ignoring the Other portion (5.1 percent and 7.3 percent, respectively) and Not Known/Unavailable portions (12.0 percent and 12.2 percent). And they wouldn’t make a mistake thatdumb, now. Would they?
Yeah, okay—don’t answer that.
The total number of interracial violent acts against whites by non-whites in 2008 was 984,446, of which blacks were accused of committing 43.6 percent, not 82.5 percent, all of which only makes sense if you pretend white-on-white violence is somehow nonexistent. That’s in addition to the fact that this chart is for “single offenders,” which is grossly incomplete. There’s another entire chart (Table 46) for cases with “multiple-offenders” that has another 940,000 incidents on it. “Mistakes” like this are how truly bad things happen, like nine innocent people getting shot in a church, or far too many police officers presuming black people are violent, a dangerous threat, and guilty until proven innocent.
Really what this is saying is that since there are more white people in the country, and they are victimized by a total of more incidents, then that’s somehow all black people’s fault—even though 67.4 percent of the violence committed against them is by other white people. It’s just ludicrous.
This is manufacturing a problem that doesn’t really exist. Black people aren’t going way out of their way to find white people to prey on. That simply isn’t the case. There are other charts from the same BJS survey that seem to indicate the rates of income, both for whites and blacks, have much more to do with the likelihood of being victimized by crime than does race.
Whether you are white or black, if you are poor your rate of victimization is far higher if you make less than $7,000 per year (40.9 crimes per 1,000 persons for Whites, 57.1 crimes per 1,000 for blacks) than if you make more than $75,000 per year (rates of 12.7 and 11.7, respectively). Oh, and it just so happens that there is a significant income and wealth gap between whites and blacks in this nation.
The United States is becoming much more racially and ethnically diverse. At the same time, it’s becoming more unequal in terms of wealth and income. These two trends are combining in an uncomfortable way: the wealth and income divide is happening along racial and ethnic lines.
The typical black household now has just 6% of the wealth of the typical white household; the typical Latino household has just 8%, according to a recent study called The Racial Wealth Gap: Why Policy Matters, by Demos, a public policy organization promoting democracy and equality, and the Institute on Assets and Social Policy.
If you are seriously trying to address the disparate victimization rates (and no one disputes that blacks are much more likely to be murdered in America than whites are), you need to also factor in the income gap and how that affects whether someone is more likely to resort to crime or acts of violence simply out of desperation and frustration. Perhaps if our answer to crime was rehabilitation, education, and jobs that lift people out of poverty rather than simply more and more jails, we might start to get a handle on this issue and the “violence gap,” if you will, would dissolve.
There’s also the fact that O’Reilly and MacDonald’s claims of rising violence in black cities in the year following Ferguson are similarly weak when looked at in a broader context.
Are the increases in murders in major cities like Chicago, Milwaukee, and New York City indicative of a broader trend in American cities? That’s the conclusion encouraged by a front-page New York Times article, Murder Rates Rising Sharply in Many U.S. Cities. It’s a scary story, conjuring images of the high-crime 1990s and fueling speculation about an ostensible “Ferguson Effect” — the unsubstantiated notion that, as The Times put it, “less aggressive policing has emboldened criminals.” This is badly misleading and, at a time when criminal justice reform is making notable bipartisan advances, it’s also dangerous.
It is not clear how the cities examined by the Times were chosen. The article included ten cities with populations ranging from over 8 million (New York) to just over 317,000 (St. Louis). But there are 60 U.S. cities with estimated 2014 populations in that range. The Times included only four of the 20 most populous U.S. cities. The authors do not explain how those cities were chosen, leaving readers to assume that the findings presented are representative of a broader increase in homicides across U.S. cities. That does not appear to be the case.
First, not all of the increases cited by the Times are statistically reliable; that is, some of them are small increases, or are based on small numbers of cases, such that the observed increases could have occurred by chance alone. Among the 16 top-20 cities for which I found publically available data, only three experienced statistically reliable increases. Only one of the top-20 cities included in the Times’ sample, Chicago, experienced an increase that was statistically significant. Five of the smaller cities included by the Times did experience statistically reliable increases, but what of the other 35 cities with populations in that range?
Overall crime has been trending downward for decades and in most big cities, even those with high black populations, that trend is continuing. So in short, the case for the “Ferguson Effect” of police being cowed into servile passivity by a militant Black Lives Matter movement isn’t truly as strong as O’Reilly and MacDonald would argue. No one knows exactly what is going on to raise Chicago’s murder stats, but there’s no real proof that it’s Black Lives Matter.
Oh and one other thing: The number of people killed by police every year isn’t insignificant—it’s over 1,100. And among those killed black persons, particularly those who are unarmed and pose no legitimate threat, are more likely to die at the hands of police by a factor of nearly 4:1.
O’Reilly claims that police shoot whites at a rate of 50 percent and blacks at a rate of 26 percent, but those are total figures. They are not proportional compared to their percentage in the population, the way that all his and MacDonald’s figures on “black murders” are conveniently proportional. The proportional figures are in the above chart from Mother Jones.
This fact is why the Black Lives Matter movement exists and if people like O’Reilly and MacDonald truly believed in a fair analysis of facts and statistics to make their case, they would be looking at all the facts— and that includes hate crime stats.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos