Homi­cide rate soars among black men

De­spite NFL protests, top source of vi­o­lence not whites or po­lice

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY VA­LERIE RICHARD­SON

Lost in the up­roar over the NFL side­line protests against po­lice bru­tal­ity are newly re­leased sta­tis­tics show­ing that the threat to black men is sky­rock­et­ing — not from trig­ger-happy or racist cops, but from crime.

More than any other de­mo­graphic group, black men are pay­ing the price with their lives with a surg­ing vi­o­lent crime rate over the past two years, in­clud­ing a 20 per­cent jump in the over­all homi­cide rate, even as the num­ber of blacks killed by po­lice de­clines.

Us­ing homi­cide fig­ures from the 2016 FBI Uni­form Crime Re­port re­leased Sept. 25, Man­hat­tan In­sti­tute fel­low Heather Mac Don­ald found that the num­ber of black homi­cide vic­tims has jumped by nearly 900 per year since the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment took root in 2014.

“The ma­jor­ity of vic­tims of that homi­cide surge have been black,” Ms. Mac Don­ald said in an email. “They were killed over­whelm­ingly by black crim­i­nals, not by the po­lice and not by whites.”

Mean­while, the num­ber of blacks killed by po­lice dipped from 259 in 2015 to 233 in 2016, with 2017 so far com­ing in be­low both years with 175 deaths as of Oct. 12, ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post’s Fa­tal Force data­base.

Crime sta­tis­tics are no­to­ri­ously

slip­pery: The FBI Uni­form Crime Re­port de­pends on lo­cal de­part­ments to re­port their sta­tis­tics vol­un­tar­ily, and the fig­ures tracked by sites such as the Killed by Po­lice page on Face­book dif­fer from those of The Post.

In ad­di­tion, the per­cent­age of blacks killed by po­lice has long been more than dou­ble blacks’ per­cent­age of the pop­u­la­tion — about 13.3 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Cen­sus Bu­reau. Like­wise was the per­cent­age of blacks in­volved in vi­o­lent crime.

Still, the dra­matic in­crease in black homi­cide vic­tims has raised ques­tions over whether NFL play­ers tak­ing a knee in a state­ment against racially mo­ti­vated po­lice vi­o­lence are miss­ing the larger prob­lem.

“If th­ese wealthy foot­ball play­ers re­ally cared about sav­ing black lives, they would sup­port proac­tive polic­ing and de­nounce crim­i­nal­ity,” said Ms. Mac Don­ald, au­thor of “The War on Cops” (En­counter Books, 2017). “When the po­lice back off of proac­tive polic­ing in high-crime ar­eas, black lives are lost.”

The FBI re­ported that vi­o­lent crime jumped in 2016 by 3.4 per­cent na­tion­wide, the largest sin­gle-year in­crease in 25 years, which “reaf­firms that the wor­ry­ing vi­o­lent crime in­crease that be­gan in 2015 af­ter many years of de­cline was not an iso­lated in­ci­dent.”

In ad­di­tion, the num­ber of homi­cides rose by 7.9 per­cent “for a to­tal in­crease of more than 20 per­cent in the na­tion­wide homi­cide rate since 2014.”

Ms. Mac Don­ald and oth­ers have blamed the in­creas­ingly hands-off ap­proach of po­lice of­fi­cers who are wor­ried about run­ning afoul of the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment af­ter the 2014 shoot­ing of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri. She dubbed it “the Fer­gu­son ef­fect.”

Peter Moskos, as­so­ci­ate pro­fes­sor at the John Jay Col­lege of Crim­i­nal Jus­tice in New York City, tracked the same phe­nom­e­non in Bal­ti­more af­ter the April 2015 ri­ot­ing over the death of a black man in po­lice cus­tody. He calls it “the Fred­die Gray ef­fect.”

He found a spike in homi­cides and shoot­ings af­ter the ri­ots, which were fol­lowed by Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn Mosby’s de­ci­sion to charge six of­fi­cers in Gray’s death. Three of the of­fi­cers were ac­quit­ted in non-jury tri­als, and charges against the other three were dis­missed.

“Po­lice were in­structed — both by city lead­ers and then in the odd DOJ re­port city lead­ers asked for — to be less proac­tive since such polic­ing will dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fect mi­nori­ties,” Mr. Moskos said in a Sept. 4 post. “Few seem to care that mi­nori­ties are dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by the rise in mur­der.”

Yet such sta­tis­tics can’t com­pete for head­lines with high-pro­file of­fi­cer shoot­ings such as the Fe­bru­ary 2016 bar­rage of bul­lets that killed a black cou­ple — Kisha Michael and Mar­quin­tan San­dlin — re­port­edly un­con­scious at the time in their car in In­gle­wood, Cal­i­for­nia.

Black Lives Mat­ter has called for the five of­fi­cers in­volved to be charged, while protests are con­tin­u­ing in St. Louis af­ter a white po­lice of­fi­cer was ac­quit­ted of mur­der last month in the 2011 death of An­thony La­mar Smith.

Why the lack of fo­cus on black-on-black crime? Those in­volved with Black Lives Mat­ter have said in the past that pros­e­cut­ing such killings is eas­ier than cases in­volv­ing po­lice force against civil­ians.

While the NFL kneel­ing be­gan as a protest against po­lice bru­tal­ity, those in­volved have in­creas­ingly ex­panded the point to en­com­pass what San Fran­cisco 49ers safety Eric Reid de­scribed as “sys­temic op­pres­sion that has been ram­pant in this coun­try for decades and decades.”

Rashad Robin­son, se­nior cam­paign di­rec­tor at Color of Change, said Pres­i­dent Trump’s re­cent sug­ges­tion that own­ers should fire play­ers who refuse to stand for the na­tional an­them rep­re­sents a view within sports that “black peo­ple serve at the plea­sure of white peo­ple.”

“Al­most ev­ery NFL owner is white. Nearly 70% of play­ers are Black,” Mr. Robin­son said in a writ­ten state­ment. “Yet for Don­ald Trump this power im­bal­ance is not enough — he wants to be sure that play­ers who ex­er­cise their right to protest so­cial in­jus­tice can be fired with im­punity. This is what it means to ad­vance a white su­prem­a­cist world­view.”

The lat­est crime fig­ures sup­port what rank-and-file of­fi­cers are wit­ness­ing in terms of street vi­o­lence, said Bill John­son, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Po­lice Or­ga­ni­za­tions, which rep­re­sents 241,000 cops.

“It jibes with what our mem­bers are telling us,” said Mr. John­son. “Vi­o­lence in gen­eral is up in the sense that whether it leads to re­ported crime or ar­rests. Just the sit­u­a­tion in our com­mu­ni­ties and our streets is worse than it was three years ago, cer­tainly be­fore the ag­i­ta­tion from Black Lives Mat­ter.”

Of­fi­cers also have been hit: Ms. Mac Don­ald said there was a 53 per­cent in­crease in 2016 in the shoot­ing deaths of cops, while The Wash­ing­ton Post data­base found that only 16 of the 233 black men killed by po­lice in 2016 were un­armed.

“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,” Ms. Mac Don­ald said. “Black males have made up 42 per­cent of all cop killers over the past decade, though they are only 6 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion.”

The worst part is that those suf­fer­ing from the higher crime rate are those who can least af­ford it, Mr. John­son said.

“It’s the com­mu­ni­ties them­selves — peo­ple who are be­ing vic­tim­ized, peo­ple who are be­ing mur­dered, fam­i­lies who are los­ing loved ones, kids who are afraid to go to schools, busi­ness peo­ple who won’t open up a busi­ness be­cause the neigh­bor­hood is too rough — that’s who’s suf­fer­ing,” he said.

Not all neigh­bor­hoods are hit equally. “It tends to be poor com­mu­ni­ties, com­mu­ni­ties of color,” Mr. John­son said. “Com­mu­ni­ties that are al­ready suf­fer­ing from higher crime rates than their neigh­bors who need safe, ef­fec­tive, thor­ough law en­force­ment.”


ALL TOO COM­MON: Shoes were left at a crime scene in Chicago where a num­ber of peo­ple, in­clud­ing a 3-year-old child, were shot last month. The num­ber of black homi­cide vic­tims has jumped by nearly 900 per year since the Black Lives Mat­ter move­ment be­gan...


Pro­test­ers gath­ered at a po­lice line out­side the Hamilton County Court­house af­ter a mis­trial was de­clared as a re­sult of a hung jury in the mur­der trial against a cop.

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