Politics

Black Lives Matter: The Myths and the Facts

George Floyd was a forty-six-year-old truck driver and minor hip-hop rapper with the group “Screwed Up Click”. Between 1997 and 2013 he was also a career criminal, serving eight terms in prison for a range of offences including drug possession and delivery, theft and trespass. In 2009, he was sentenced to five years in prison for armed robbery during a home invasion. Paroled in January 2013, he determined to go straight, joined an evangelical church, and moved from his home in Texas to Minneapolis. There he became a truck driver and nightclub bouncer—he was six feet six inches tall—and security guard. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic he lost his jobs when his employers closed down. On May 25, 2020, he was arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a Minneapolis grocery store. Floyd died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer who came to arrest him, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and forty-six seconds, while Floyd was handcuffed and lying face down in the street, shouting, “I can’t breathe!” Floyd’s official autopsy termed his death a homicide attributed to cardiopulmonary arrest, but also added that fentanyl (a recreational drug) intoxication and methamphetamine use were “significant conditions” for his death. Chauvin (like three other police with him) was immediately dismissed from the police force and awaits trial on a second-degree murder charge.

This essay appears in the latest Quadrant.
Click here to subscribe

Floyd’s death set off an storm of protests around the world, many of which were violent, and added greatly to the visibility and apparent necessity of the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) movement. His death was the latest in a series of high-profile cases given international publicity by BLM, which include the acquittal of George Zimmerman for shooting black teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in 2012, and the shooting of another black teenager, Michael Brown Jr, by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. Millions of people around the world have accepted the veracity of their central message that vast numbers of innocent black people in the United States have been persecuted by the local police purely on racial grounds, and, expanding from that claim, that America is still pervasively racist. These messages have become gospel on the American Left, and have increased the influence of the radical wing of the Democratic Party.

In fact, the BLM movement is one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated by the Left on the American public and, by extension, on public opinion throughout the Western world. Its raison d’être is that America’s police forces systematically engage in widespread racist attacks, especially unjustified shootings, against ordinary black people simply going about their business.

The facts are different. Below is a table of “Persons shot to death by the police” in the United States in 2018, 2019, and up to November 30, 2020. (George Floyd was allegedly choked to death by Chauvin, not shot; there is apparently no data on choking to death, as it is so rare.)

                Race                      2018       2019       2020

 

                White                    399         370         370

                Black                      209         235         192

                Hispanic               148         158         128

                Other                    36           39           21

                Unknown            204         202         133

               

                Totals                    996         1004       844

 

As will be seen, more whites than blacks have, consistently, been shot dead by the police, and only around one-fifth of such deaths were those of blacks. These figures have, of course, to be placed in a wider context. The total population of the US is about 330 million, of whom about 41 million are black and 56 million Hispanic (of any race). Heather Mac Donald, a highly perceptive Fellow of the Manhattan Institute, has commented incisively about these claims:

In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by the cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. 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 dangerous suspects. In 2018 African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the US and committed about 60% of robberies, although they are just 13% of the population … The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and nineteen unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post data base … Those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represented 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is eighteen and a half times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.

The more closely one looks at each purported case of an unjustified shooting of a black man by a policeman in America, the more dubious many of these claims seem. The journalist Matt Walsh looked up every case of an unarmed black man shot by the police in 2019 that was included in the Washington Post’s 2019 data base. According to Walsh, six of the fourteen killings included in the data base “ranged from outrageous to questionable”. But eight other “unarmed” shootings were in a different category:

Melvin Watkins was shot by a sheriff’s deputy after Watkins’s family called 911 [the emergency phone number] to report that he’d become violent and they feared for their safety. When officers arrived on the scene, Watkins allegedly tried to run them over with his car. Multiple witnesses support this version of events. Knoxville police officer Dylan Williams was cleared of any wrongdoing by the D.A. [District Attorney] after fatally shooting Channara Pheap last summer. Five eyewitnesses, plus video evidence and dash camera footage, confirmed that Pheap assaulted Williams, choked him, grabbed his taser, and used it on him. Ryan Twyman was shot by the police after attempting to arrest him for possession of illegal firearms in June 2019. Security camera footage shows Twyman driving away with an officer trapped by his car door. The other officer on the scene opened fire, fearing for his partner’s life. Kevin Pudlik was killed by police during a car chase. The driver of the car Pudlik was in, Christopher Lee Calvin, nearly pinned an officer between his car and a concrete wall. Cops on the scene finally opened fire when they believed Calvin was intentionally trying to ram into an officer … Isaiah Lewis, a black teenager, was shot by police after pouncing on an officer and kicking him unconscious … Kevin Mason of Baltimore was shot by police responding to a domestic violence call. Mason sent dogs after the officers. When that didn’t scare them off, he called 911 and threatened to “blast” them and “kill every last one of them”. Mason was ultimately shot when he emerged from his home after explicitly announcing his intention to murder the cops on the scene.

The widespread publicity given to the George Floyd case, the riots and violence which ensued as a result, and the calls by the extreme Left to “defund” the police, have led to many police officers quitting their forces rather than put up with the lies and violence of the extreme Left. In Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed, by August 19, 2020, the number of homicides had reached the total of the previous year in just eight months. According to reporter Holly Bailey:

Day and night the bullets rip through the predominantly Black neighborhood [of Minneapolis], hitting cars and homes and people. The scores of victims have included a 7-year-old boy, wounded in a drive-by shooting [and] a woman who took a bullet that came through her living room wall while she was watching television.

The Minneapolis City Council originally planned to defund their local police force, but settled for a major decrease in its budget, as an estimated sixty police officers quit the force in the wake of the Floyd killings and the ensuing riots.

Major increases in crime have also been reported in most large American cities. In some cases this was clearly a response to the unemployment and dislocation caused by the pandemic, but it has also been attributed to the riots and the undermining of confidence in the police caused by the BLM movement and the George Floyd killing. Overwhelmingly, in America’s big cities, violent crimes are caused by its black and (to a lesser extent) its Hispanic populations, while the role of the police in violence against blacks or anyone else is trivial or non-existent. In Chicago, whose population of 2.7 million is 30 per cent black, there were 792 homicides (91 per cent by gunshot) in 2020, compared with 512 in 2019 and 586 in 2018. (To put this in context, Victoria, with a population of 6.4 million, had 101 homicides in 2019.) Of these Chicago homicides, 627 (79 per cent) were of blacks, mainly young gang members and drug dealers killed by other blacks in inner-city ghetto areas, 131 were of Hispanics, and thirty-two were of whites. The Chicago police killed precisely seven persons (of any race) and wounded another thirteen. Much the same is likely to be true in every other big American city.

The BLM movement and its allies have perpetrated one of the greatest hoaxes on modern American public debate, unfortunately with literally deadly consequences in too many cases. But as always, the central aim of America’s radicals is the destruction of society.

William D. Rubinstein taught at Deakin University and the University of Wales, and is a frequent contributor to Quadrant

13 comments
  • J. Vernau

    I recall seeing an African-American matron being interviewed on TV, and angrily proclaiming that black armed robbers were more likely to be shot by police than their white counterparts. I also recall an internet video of the early stages of Mr Floyd’s arrest. He was continually saying “I can’t breathe” before he was restrained, and refusing to get into the police car. His own vehicle contained at least one fake $20 note, meaning he was facing a Federal indictment and almost certain prison time.
    Of course the BLM movement is a hoax, as is obvious to anyone with a command of primary school arithmetic, and so are antifa and Extinction Rebellion. We should probably throw in the Democrats, too. In these enlightened times the facts are irrelevant—it is how it makes you feel that matters. Just ask our very own Ms Milligan and her activist confederates.

  • Michael

    “In this postmodern, post-truth, post-reality simulacrum called ‘the world,’ I choose to retain ‘truth,’ ‘objectivity,’ ‘reality,’ ‘freedom,’ and ‘the free market’ as values that we approach, if only asymptotically. If we surrender these to the willy-nilly, anything goes ethos of postmodern post-truthism, then that ‘anything’ will be the desiderata of the powerful, to which we will have forfeited our last remaining defenses.”

    Michael Rectenwald.

  • Pittacus66

    William Rubinstein is correct. BLM is just another Front Organization for Leftist extremists. The strategy of deception by using these organizations was perfected by the communist propagandist, Willi Munzenberg, who called them his Innocent’s Clubs, because the gullible attracted to them would be unaware of the organization’s real motives, which was aiding communism. But that was a hundred years ago, and it still works today.
    Seventy years ago, the African-American Manning Johnson, who had worked for the Communist Party in the USA, admitted that “stirring up race and class conflict is the basis of all discussions of the Communist Party’s work” and that “Black rebellion was what Moscow wanted. Bloody racial conflict would split America.”
    Co-founder of BLM, Patrisse Cullors, said openly, “Myself and Alicia (Garza) in particular, we’re trained organizers. We are trained Marxists.” Susan Rosenberg, once jailed for terrorism, works for Thousand Currents, a non-profit organization that raises money for BLM.
    But Vatican News praised BLM as a “movement dedicated to non-violence civil disobedience”, and major American corporations have donated tens of millions of dollars to BLM. Former Marxist, Michael Rectenwald in his book “Beyond Woke” explained: “The bosses are woke themselves. CEO’s and other corporate executives went to business schools that weren’t that far away from social science and humanities departments. Business professors became friends with humanities and social science professors, who are notoriously left leaning. Their leftism rubbed off on the business professors, who then spread it to their students, who went on to run corporate America.”
    And now the Biden administration is targeting conservatives in the military, writes J. Christian Adams, who was told, “The military is one of the last institutions left that hasn’t been radicalized by progressives. That’s why it is being targeted now.” Pentagon Materials Target Conservatives in the Military – PJ Media

  • Harry Lee

    The facts of the very high rates of Black violence, per capita, have been known for decades.
    So have the low rates of Blacks being killed by cops by police.
    White cops are especially not the killers of Blacks, by proportion measured against base rates.
    Also well-known is the is the low incidence of educability and trainability among Blacks.
    I have worked with peaceful, educated, highly productive blacks in the USA, and elsewhere, and most are in deep sadness about the disproportionate rates of violence and low educability/trainability and non-productivity among their fellow Blacks.
    We have the same problem here with imported black Africans: high violence, low educability, low trainabiltiy, low productivity when measured against other groups.
    And it is censored and/or lied about by the politicians, the mainstream media and the controllers of and naive people within the university/school systems.
    Similar if not as extreme numbers exist within the Muslim groups and PIs, and Aborigines -all censored ot lied about-
    With all of this going on, let us not be surprised that many White Australians, young and old, female, male and other, are simply giving up on contributory citizenship -and instead of being peaceful and productive, are turning, for example, to excessive intake of alcohol and other recreational drugs, to displays of idiotic/dangerous sexual behaviour, and/or ripping off the system every which way.
    Permit the non-Whites to be parasitic and violent, and Whites will want their share of that.
    Obvious.

  • Ian MacKenzie

    Unfortunately when it comes to identity politics facts don’t matter. Its all about emotions. If you feel oppressed, you are oppressed. Apparently this then gives you the right to give expression to your emotions in any violent or illegal manner you see fit.
    The BLM founders have told us that they are Marxists. In fact Leninists would be more correct, as this is about the acquisition of power, not inter-class economics. That those who are hurt the most by the release of uncontrolled emotions are other members of the supposed victim community matters not at all to those BLM founders. The rioters are just disposable “useful idiots” helping the Democrat leftwing to gain more power and influence.
    The only way to counter this stupidity is to apply the law as written. In other words do exactly what useful idiot and BLM enabler Daniel Andrews didn’t do during Covid lockdown and refuse to allow them to break the law without consequences. Every time they get away with breaking the law, they come back expecting the same again. Start arresting and charging them and they’ll soon find other things to do.

  • Harry Lee

    That’s right, facts and logic will not gain traction, let alone prevail.
    Fact, Blacks and their White post-modernist enablers have proclaimed that facts and logic are White tools of oppression -used by Whites to oppress Blacks.
    This idiocy is endorsed by many who control Australian school systems and Australian university departments, and by the ABC, SBS and 90% of the commercial mainstream media, and by many in the law industry.
    Not surprising, therefore, that Whites are giving up on Proper Australia.
    And this surrender is exactly the goal of the post-modernist, neo-marxist forces in the ALP, Greens, ABC, SBS and in much of the public services, incl the law industry.
    And, in large part, the Libs and Nats are going along with it -because the voters are swinging in that direction.
    NB:
    The Australian Constitution does not provide for the internal defence of the foundations of Western Civ.

  • DG

    I can see the US’s problem straight away. They regard ‘white’ and ‘black’ as ‘races’, whatever they are. Then there’s ‘hispanic’ which might have ethnic overtones and ‘other’ and ‘unknown’, two well known ‘races’ are also counted. I suppose given half a chance they would think ‘Asian is a race as well. Much better if they used the British identity codes based on complexion/ethnicity. IC 1-9 does it. Better than races, as ‘black’ covers a number of ethnicities so is hardly a ‘race’. Imagine confusing a Bushman and a Zulu and a Chosa…The US needs to get its house in order quick smart on this issue as well as get realistic on the entho-cultural characteristics of criminals. I write, of course, as someone who is beige.

  • Harry Lee

    Must be censored:
    The truth of the highly-disproportional incidence of extreme violence inflicted by Black on non-Blacks, and esp on Whites.
    Black on black violence exceeds White on White violence by more than ten times, by proportion.
    Black on White violence exceeds White on Black violence by more than ten times, by proportion.
    Fewer than 20% of Blacks are educable, at any level, than the top 50% of Whites.
    None of this is due to slavery and/or racism.
    The most compassionate explanation is that it is the result of selection during many tens of thousands of years of adaption to the physical environments of sub-Saharan Africa versus adaption to the physical conditions of Europe.
    But why the censorship?
    That’d be a useful essay topic in the schools eh.
    Yes, but it’s all censored.

  • Stephen

    This article is very welcome but it exposes nothing new to any one who has been paying any sort of attention. Among others, the black intellectuals Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell having been highlighting the facts explained above for years. They both have Youtube videos on the subject which have been viewed many thousands of times. The FBI publishes statistics available to anyone with an internet connection conforming the stats shown above. You don’t need a University to research these stats and it’s amazing that so many US academics shamelessly support BML. In nearly all cases where a black american is killed by the police it is because they are resisting arrest often with violent and deadly force. Why are black americans who are 13% of the population commit more than 50% of the crimes and why is this figure so much higher than it was 60 years ago? This is the real question that needs to be answered. If you are a white youth in the US your most likely cause of early death is a road accident. If you are a black youth your most likely cause of death is to be shot by another black youth. Of all the current pandemics the pandemic of irrationality is by far the worst. If you think this sounds a bit angry you’re right!

  • Elizabeth Beare

    Stephen, the article presents a lot of statistical information which is useful to help counteract some of the ridiculous statistics that are floating around on the MSM and elsewhere.
    Things will have to change somehow soon though or there will be no people of any quality willing to take on the job of policing in the US. So many are now leaving the force, especially in problem Democrat States and much in the way of skills and training is being lost in the welter of BLM ideology.

  • Harry Lee

    The Black imposition on Whites is huge, yes.
    So are the nett negative effects of the Muslim presence in the West.
    The West includes Australia, for now.

  • Harry Lee

    One of the enemy’s propaganda outlets, the ABC, is running an on-line item about the incarceration of black African youth in Victoria.
    These youth comprise less than half-a-percent of the VIC populace, yet they account for 19% (that’s one-fifth actually) of all “youth” incarcerations.
    The ABC’s item, written by a professor of criminal or social something, explains that this highly disproportional rate of incarceration is due to police racism and/or “misunderstandings” by black African youth and/or the police.
    Absurb?
    Yes.
    And when we permit such absurdity to dominate the public information and education systems, we descend into Evil.
    Evil: The knowing infliction of harm, directly or indirectly, on innocent parties.
    (Note that almost all perpetrators of Evil, if brought to account, explain it all as their unfortunate ignorance and/or their intention to be virtuous which went a bit wrong.)

  • wdr

    Re Harry Lee’s posting: It is incredible that the left-dominated ABC news site would publish the online article about African crime in Melbourne that you mention. I was unaware of the statistics you cite until I read this article. One wonders why on earth our government allows these people to settle, here, given their wholly negative track-record- in particular, why a Coalition government does this, one which deports criminal non-citizens back where they came from . Let’s hope this lot, when convicted, are also sent back home pronto.

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.