The death of George Floyd in police custody, we’re told by the left, was no aberration. It was part of something systemic — “systemic” being the word that undergirds so many of the arguments that have rattled around the media these past few days.
Democrat Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California provided one of the best (and certainly most visible) summations of this line of thinking in a joint news conference on Tuesday.
“This is the story of life every single day. And we have so many people in our country, African-American men, mostly unarmed, being murdered by police officers and no way of holding them accountable,” Booker said, according to a transcript from Rev. “And so the challenge we face in this body is what are we going to do? Because that is the question that protestors are demanding.”
“The reality of it is that the life of a black person in America, historically, and even most recently with Mr. Floyd, has never been treated as fully human,” Harris said. “And it is time that we come to terms with the fact that America has never fully addressed the systemic racism that has existed in our country.”
There you have it: Across this nation, we’re to understand, there’s a system cemented in place diligently killing unarmed black men.
Why do those charged with carrying it out carry it out, then? That’s a bit less clear. Ingrained prejudice? Abuse of power? Bad training? Something more sinister? That part is never quite made clear.
In fact, a lot of this argument is hazy. For instance, how many unarmed black men are being killed by police officers each year? Hundreds? Dozens? What were the circumstances?
Despite the frequency of this argument’s appearance, we never quite get specific details beyond the rhetoric. We know the specifics of George Floyd’s death all too well, yes. But beyond that — well, what?
As it turns out, all of the deaths of unarmed black men could be broken down by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson on his Wednesday show. Not the entire show, mind you. Just a segment of it.
That’s because the “so many people in our country, African-American men, mostly unarmed, being murdered by police officers” that Booker described in his news conference amounted, in 2019, to 10 African-American individuals — nine men and one woman.
And yet, as Carlson pointed out, the lawyer for Floyd’s family called the phenomenon a “genocide.”
“This is not genocide. It’s not even close to genocide. It is laughable to suggest it is,” the Fox News host said.
“Since 2015, The Washington Post has maintained a comprehensive database of fatal police shootings in this country,” Carlson said during the segment.
“Last year, The Post logged a total of 1,004 killings. Of the 802 shootings in which the race of the police officer and the suspect was noted, 371 of the those killed were white; 236 were black. The vast majority of those killed were not in fact, unarmed. The vast majority were armed, and African-American suspects were significantly more likely to have a deadly weapon than white suspects. Yet more white suspects were killed.”
Carlson went to provide a synopsis of each of the 10 cases where unarmed African-American individuals were fatally shot by police officers, none of which sounded as if it represented an instance of wider systemic racism designed to produce a “genocide” by police officers.
“The first was a man called Channara Pheap. He was killed by a Knoxville police called officer Dylan Williams,” Carlson said.
“According to Williams, Pheap attacked him, choked him and then used a Taser on him … before the officer shot him. Five eyewitnesses corroborated the officer’s claim, and the officer was not charged.
“The second case concerns a man called Marcus McVae. He was by any description a career criminal from San Angelo, Texas. He’d been convicted of aggravated assault, assault on a public servant and organized criminal activity. At the time he was killed he was wanted on drug dealing charges. A Texas state trooper pulled him over. McVae fled in his car, then he fled on foot into the woods. There, he fought with a trooper, and was shot and killed. The officer was not charged in that case.
“Marzues Scott assaulted a shop employee. When a female police officer arrived and ordered the suspect toward her car, he instead charged her and knocked her to the ground. At that point, she shot and killed him. The entire incident was caught on body camera. The officer was not charged.
“Ryan Twyman was being approached by two LA County deputies when he backed into one of them with his vehicle. The deputy was caught in the car door. He and his partner opened fire. The deputies were not charged in that case.”
And so on.
Two of the cases he described ended in charges.
In Fort Worth, Texas, Atatiana Jefferson was shot by Officer Aaron Dean after one of her neighbors saw her door open and thought something might be amiss. The neighbor called a nonemergency number and, when police arrived at the scene, Jefferson saw them approach. She came to the window with a gun to observe what was happening. Bodycam footage shows Dean shooting Jefferson through the window in a matter of seconds; he has since been charged with homicide.
In another, Gregory Griffin was shot by Officer Jovanny Crespo during a car chase in Newark, New Jersey. Crespo said he thought Griffin had pointed a gun at him — and a firearm was discovered inside Griffin’s vehicle — but Crespo is facing aggravated manslaughter charges.
As of July 1, 2019, there were roughly 44 million black Americans, according to U.S. Census data. Ten of them were shot by police despite being unarmed that year. In two cases, officers have been charged. In only one of those — the alleged murder of Jefferson by Dean — did the situation potentially rise to the heinousness and indifference to human life that we saw in the Floyd case.
In every other case, it’s not that the officers weren’t charged because of some white supremacist back-slapping criminal justice system that averts its gaze when an unarmed black individual is shot by a law enforcement officer. The material facts don’t support this interpretation.
Nor does the wider set of data, either. In a piece published in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday, the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald noted that even when you look at the shootings of armed suspects, factoring in the crime rate, black individuals are less likely to be killed.
“In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015,” Mac Donald wrote.
“That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.
“The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines ‘unarmed’ broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.”
Instead, this is empty rhetoric about systemic racism leading to an inordinate number of black deaths at the hands of police used to throw a blanket over inconvenient developments for liberal and progressive politicians and pundits.
In this case, the indignation over George Floyd’s death led to mass gatherings, something considered so taboo just days before the Floyd killing that anyone who engaged in it was cast as a willing agent of death. But these mass gatherings can be countenanced because the underlying cause is the systemic killing of black individuals by police.
Real unemployment is very likely over 20 percent thanks to the coronavirus lockdowns, and the areas hit the hardest are retail and food and beverage. On our television sets, we saw riots where the businesses hit the hardest were, again, retail and food and beverage.
We don’t know how much this will end up compounding the economic misery we’re in because this is a fresh development, but compound the misery it certainly will. But that can be countenanced because the underlying cause of the destruction and looting of property was the systemic killing of black individuals by police.
Except that reason is a lie. And it was a lie for another reason, too: Things are getting better for unarmed suspects of all races.
“Last year was the safest year for unarmed suspects since The Washington Post began tracking police shootings,” Carlson pointed out. “It was the safest year for both white and black suspects.”
The mass gatherings were either a grave danger that’ll set back our flattening of the curve to a profound extent or it’ll prove the lockdowns that decimated the economy were unnecessary in the first place.
The looting is simply proof that liberal politicians are more afraid of seeming draconian than in preserving what remains of their economies.
No amount of strident rhetoric claiming that officers are killing black men because of systemic racism will change these salient facts.
Illogic, alas, will not paint a fig leaf over these troublesome facts, even if that illogic is delivered with the kind of passion that presupposes a vague notion is nothing short of gospel truth.
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