…that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?
… that the present uproar over George Floyd’s Murder is not primarily about race?
The killing of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin was one of the most heinous acts of brutality I have ever seen. It seems evident to me that Chauvin’s intent was to kill Floyd; otherwise why would he keep his knee on his neck for almost nine minutes and kept doing so for several minutes after Floyd apparently had ceased breathing. It looked like murder, and it was murder, and the full force of the law should be brought against Chauvin. Understandably we want to see Chauvin pay for his murder of George Floyd. This tragic event has sparked protests throughout the United States and other parts of the world.
When this all started, there was unity in everybody agreeing that this was murder and that it should be dealt with accordingly, and there is still agreement on this. However, the turn that things have taken is now very divisive. Therefore, I implore you, “Let us reason together”. Since the motto of this blog is “and the truth shall make you free”, I must speak the truth as I see it and ask that you hear me out.
The protests started as soon as the George Floyd killing was publicized and have continued more than two weeks later; and the killing of Rayshard Brooks has further fueled the flames of protest. There was some rioting, looting, and burning initially but for the most part, the protestors have been constrained and non-violent. Soon the protests morphed into a movement to abolish and/or defund police departments. The Minneapolis City Council has voted to abolish the Minneapolis Police Department. Protest groups in Seattle have shut down a police precint and taken over a six block area which the protestors named Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) but later changed the name to Capitol Hill Organized Protest (CHOP) zone and have banned police from the zone. Leaders in the City of New York want to cut a billion dollars from the city’s police budget and abolish the anti-crime unit of 600 plainclothes policemen. Los Angeles may cut its Police Department Budget by $150 million. By the time I post this blog, other cities and municipalities undoubtedly will have followed suit, calling for the abolition or defunding of police departments. I am afraid that if these demands are acceded to, even more black people will lose their lives at the hands of other Black People.
Despite CNN’s Don Lemon’s comment that he did not want to hear the saying, “One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch” again, I am saying it again and will expand upon it. Incidents involving a few policemen have been generalized to all policemen thereby painting them all with the broad brush of racism. When there is a bad apple in the bunch, you take out the bad apple and leave the rest be. According to data released by the FBI, in 2016 there were 5,237,106 incidents (reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System) involving the public interacting with police1. Just think on that number, more than 5 million interactions. The number of people killed by the police in 2015 was 9872. Assuming an even 5 million interactions in 2015, the 987 killings represented a mere .02% of all police interactions. In 2015, police killed 258 Black People. However, there were 6,000 black homicides2. The 258 killed by the police amount to 4.3% of the total black homicides in 2015. Interestingly, 12% of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by the police. If the police had not killed any Black People at all in 2015, 96.7% of the homicides would have remained. What is the source of all the other homicides? Blacks killing each other, mostly young black males. It was heart-breaking to see the killing of both George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks. But where I live, the New Orleans area, my heart is broken practically every day, if I watch the local news and read the newspaper. Typically there are multiple killings and shootings reported daily of young black men killing and maiming each other. Rarely do they die at the hands of the police. Over the past weekend, The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported that 2 people were killed and 10 injured by gunshot wounds in 9 separate incidents in heavily black populated neighborhoods of New Orleans. The two victims who died were a 40-year old man and an unidentified woman. Those injured included two 17-year olds, two 16-year olds, and two 15-year olds. As I am writing this post, a news alert came over my phone saying “Police are investigating a triple shooting in New Orleans East”, a black neighborhood. The situation is even worse in cities like Baltimore and St. Louis. So you see, I cannot respect Black Lives Matter until they show themselves as much, indeed more, concerned about the black-on-black killings as they are with the police killings. How can this organization say that they are concerned with black lives when their focus is on the small number, relative to the total number killed, of blacks killed by the police while being quiet about the massive killing of blacks by blacks?
Are the police more likely to kill a Black Person than a White Person in the use of lethal force? Surprisingly, the answer is no. Being very perturbed by the Ferguson incident (Michael Brown), a brilliant young black economist from Harvard, Dr. Roland G. Fryer, Jr., decided to look at the numbers on black and white killings by the police. With a team of researchers, he investigated police killings in 10 large cities. One of the major findings of his study was, “… when it comes to the most lethal form of force — police shootings — the study finds no racial bias.”3 According to Dr. Frye, “It is the most surprising result of my career.”3 Dr. Fryer looked at situations in which an officer might be expected to fire, but doesn’t. For the city of Houston, “Mr. Fryer found that in such situations, officers in Houston were about 20 percent less likely to shoot if the suspects were black. This estimate was not precise, and firmer conclusions would require more data. But in various models controlling for different factors and using different definitions of tense situations, Mr. Fryer found that blacks were either less likely to be shot or there was no difference between blacks and whites.”3 Dr. Fryer did find that blacks were more likely to be harassed than whites, consisting of such actions as pushing into walls, using handcuffs, drawing weapons, pushing to ground, and using pepper spray or baton, which means that there is a need for some reforms.
A more recent study published in the PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America comes to essentially the same conclusions as the Frye study in concluding that, “We find no evidence of anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparities across shootings, and White officers are not more likely to shoot minority civilians than non-White officers.”4 The authors reiterate the above conclusion by noting “We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime [italics added]”.4 Though counter intuitive, the authors found that, “… Black and Hispanic officers (compared with White officers) were more likely to fatally shoot Black and Hispanic civilians.”4 So if there is a problem with police using lethal force, is it a race issue? How do you square this with the spate of killings of blacks by the police? With social media and everybody having cell phones, an incident involving a police killing quickly goes viral. This does not happen every day or even every week, but it happens often enough that police killings are kept fresh in the public mind.
The upshot is this: if there is a problem with police lethal use of force, it does not seem to be a racial issue. Furthermore, in the large cities where Black People are concentrated, most of the mayors and police chiefs are black. I invite you to glance over the lists displayed below of current African-American and Hispanic mayors and police chiefs of major American cities.
Major American Cities with African-American or Hispanic Mayors
- Chicago, IL Lori Lightfoot
- Buffalo, NY Byron Brown
- Washington, D.C. Muriel Browser
- St. Paul, MN Melvin Carter
- Baltimore, MY Bernard Young
- San Francisco, CA London Breed
- Rochester, NY Lovely Warren
- Atlanta, GA Keisha Lance Bottoms
- Columbia, SC Stephen K Benjamin
- Newark, NJ Ras Barraka
- Houston, TX Sylvester Turner
- New Orleans, LA LaToya Cantrell
- Denver, CO Michael Hancock
- Dallas, TX Eric Johnson
- Montgomery, AL Steven Reed
- Birmingham, AL Randall Woodfin
- Little Rock, AK Frank Sutton, Jr.
- Waterloo, IA Quentin Hart
- Baton Rouge, LA Sharon Weston Broome
- Richmond, VA Levar Stoney
- Kansas, MO Quinton Lucas
- Gary, IN Karen Freeman-Wilson
- Flint, MI Sheldon Neely
- Savannah, GA Van R. Johnson
- Fayetteville, NC Mitch Colvin
- Jackson, MS Chokwe Antar Lumumba
- Los Angeles Eric Garsetti (Jewish Mexican American)
- Phoenix, AR Kate Gallegos
- Tucson, AR Regina Romero
- Santa Barbara, CA Cathy Murillo
- San Bernardino, CA John Valdivia
- Miami, FL Francis X. Suarez
African-American and Hispanic Police Chiefs
African-American Police Chiefs
- Portland, OR Chuck Levell
- Minneapolis, MN Medaria Arradondo
- Seattle, WA Carmen Best
- Chicago, IL David Brown
- Detroit, MI James Craig
- San Francisco, CA William Scott
- Rochester, NY La’Ron D. Singletary
- Columbia, SC Randy Scott
- Durham, NC Cerelyn J. Davis
- Newark, NJ Darnell Henry
- New Orleans, LA Shaun Ferguson
- Boston, MA William G. Gross (Commissioner of Boston Police Department)
- Phoenix, AZ Jeri Williams
- Dallas, TX Renee Hall
- Montgomery, AL Ernest N. Fineley, Jr.
- Montgomery County, MY Marcus Jones
- Birmingham, AL Patrick D. Jones
- Mobile, AL Lawrence L. Battiste, IV
- Lexington, KY Lawrence Weathers
- Little Rock, AK Keith Humphrey
- Waterloo, Iowa Joel Fitzgerald
- Baton Rouge, LA Murphy Reed
- Jacksonville, FL Deloris Patterson Oneal
- Baltimore, MY Michael S. Harrison
- Sacramento, CA Daniel Hahn
- Philadelphia, PA Danielle Outlaw
- Cleveland, OH Calvin D. Williams
- Cincinnati, OH Eliot K. Isaac
- Plano, TX Ed Drain
- Gary, IN Richard Ligon
- St. Petersburg, FL Anthony Holloway
- Tulsa, OK Wendell Franklin
- Flint, MI Tim Johnson
- Portsmouth, VA Angela Green
- Fayetteville, NC Genia U. Hawkins
- Lansing, MI Daryl Green
- Savannah, GA Roy W. Minter, Jr.
- Jackson, MS James E. Davis
- Ferguson, MO Jason Armstrong
Hispanic Police Chiefs
- Houston, TX Art Arcevedo
- Riverside, CA Larry Gonzalez
- Miami, FL Jorge Colina
- Orlando, FL Orlando Rolon
The above lists are not necessarily exhaustive. Furthermore, some of the large cities which are not run by blacks today have been in the recent past. Nonetheless this much should be clear: many, if not most, of the places where there have been high profile killing of blacks by the police are run by Blacks or Hispanics. Furthermore, more police chiefs than mayors are Black or Hispanic. Policing is done at the local level for the most part. Therefore, if there have been wrongful killings of Black People by the police, do not these black leaders bear some of the responsibility? Furthermore, some of the killings involve black police officers.
If the vast majority of police officers are performing their duties efficiently and within the confines of the law, why is there a call for the wholesale dismantling and/or de-funding of police departments? Furthermore, it has not been demonstrated that all, or even a majority, of instances where police used fatal force against black individuals did so illegally or that their use of force was in the words of Attorney General Eric Holder, “objectively unreasonable”, based on applicable federal criminal civil rights law. The highly publicized cases are all different. The use of deadly force that resulted in the death of Michael Brown is very different from the use of deadly force that resulted in the death of George Floyd. The death of Michael Brown has become the cause celebre of the movement against wrongful shooting of black people by the police which launched Black Lives Matter onto the national scene. Yet his death was judged not to have been the result of a wrongful shooting. After a thorough investigation of the Michael Brown shooting of August 9, 2014, the Department of Justice, then headed by Attorney General Eric Holder, issued a report on March 4, 2015 which concluded,
“Based on this investigation, the Department has concluded that Darren Wilson’s [the police officer involved in the shooting] actions do not constitute prosecutable violations under the applicable federal criminal civil rights statute, 18 U.S.C. § 242, which prohibits uses of deadly force that are “objectively unreasonable,” as defined by the United States Supreme Court. The evidence, when viewed as a whole, does not support the conclusion that Wilson’s uses of deadly force were “objectively unreasonable” under the Supreme Court’s definition. Accordingly, under the governing federal law and relevant standards set forth in the USAM, it is not appropriate to present this matter to a federal grand jury for indictment, and it should therefore be closed without prosecution.”5
On the matter of “hands up, don’t shoot”, the report concluded,
“There is no witness who has stated that Brown had his hands up in surrender whose statement is otherwise consistent with the physical evidence.”6
“The media has widely reported that there is witness testimony that Brown said “don’t shoot” as he held his hands above his head. In fact, our investigation did not reveal any eyewitness who stated that Brown said “don’t shoot.”7
According to the DOJ report, Michael Brown was advancing toward Wilson in a tackle run, charging with his fists balled up, when Wilson shot him. Several witnesses “… stated that they would have felt threatened by Brown and would have responded in the same way Wilson did.”8
The final conclusion was, “For the reasons set forth above, this matter lacks prosecutive merit and should be closed.”9 If you have an iota of political savvy, you know that if there had been any improper use of force by Wilson, Eric Holder would have recommended prosecution of Darren Wilson.
This is a serious matter. Based on a false narrative (Hands up, don’t shoot), Black Lives Matter invigorated its anti-police movement while chanting slogans such as “Pigs in a blanket, fry’em like bacon”10. NFL players came out of locker rooms with their hands up as a kind of protest against what they thought happened in the Michael Brown shooting. It might have also triggered a spike in police shootings and encouraged NFL players to take a knee while the National Anthem is being played. Society was damaged and divided by the pushing of this false narrative.
Steve Harvey chimed in on the protests and said that “infiltrators” had hijacked the legitimate protest against the unjust killing of George Floyd. I believe he is on to something. In his comments, it was not clear to me who he thought the hijackers were. However, I have some thoughts that may throw some light on who the hijackers may be, looking at it historically and ideologically. Groups have come in to take advantage of the protest to advance their own agendas that have little or nothing to do with grievances over the killing of George Floyd. This same sort of thing happened in Ferguson, Missouri after the Michael Brown incident. Police departments have reported that many, and sometimes most, of the violent protestors arrested came from out of town; that was the case for Minneapolis and other cities. Some of them were paid to protest. It seems that their ultimate objective is to tear down the whole institution of law enforcement as it exists. This way of viewing the matter dovetails with the concept of “systemic racism”.
The concept of systemic racism sees racism as something that permeates all our institutions, from the founding of the country to practically all present day institutions. As one writer on systemic racism puts it, “As a theory, it is premised on the research-supported claim that the United States was founded as a racist society, that racism is thus embedded in all social institutions, structures, and social relations within our society. Rooted in a racist foundation, systemic racism today is composed of intersecting, overlapping, and codependent racist institutions, policies, practices, ideas, and behaviors that give an unjust amount of resources, rights, and power to white people while denying them to people of color.”11 Everything falls within the scope of this all-pervasive umbrella: the Declaration of Independence, the U. S. Constitution, the economic system (many see capitalism is the root of all our evils), religious institutions, educational institutions, governmental institutions (legislature, courts, and law enforcements), and any and everything that can be considered an institutional arrangement. With such a broad and sweeping concept of racism, nothing is sacrosanct. The implication is clear: the whole society is rotten, i.e., racist, to the core. Therefore, the only solution that will work is to tear it all down. A simple, direct expression of this conclusion is expressed by a protestor, Syrita Steib-Martin, Executive Director of Operation Restoration, in front of City Hall in New Orleans who said, “We can no longer fix systems that were not built on inclusivity – we must abolish them all”.12 Radical groups are using this concept to justify the tearing down of one institution after another. In the concept of “systemic racism”, they have a justification for pushing their transformational revolution to completion. The Constitution is not something to be respected but something that should be gotten rid of since it defines black people as three-fifths of a person (an untruth that I dealt with in my first blog). Ironically, the non-racist nature of American society is attested to by the fact that to bring down an individual or institution, all one has to do is to bring the charge of racism against that person or institution. Just the charge is often enough to discredit and/or destroy the person in the eyes of the public. Would this be possible if America is the racist society that so many allege it to be?
Starting about 100 years ago, the Communist Party in the United States, controlled by the Kremlin out of Russia, unsuccessfully tried to use Black People13 to advance its agenda of world domination under socialism, specifically Marxist-Leninist socialism. Given the oppression suffered by African-Americans a hundred years ago, it seemed that recruiting Black People to their cause would be an easy sell, especially since the white communists showed an interest in Black People when most other whites did not seem much interested in the welfare of blacks. In their view, communism was the ready-made solution to the problems of an oppressed people like African-Americans of the early 20th century. Though they came to the assistance of blacks on numerous occasions, they ran into some walls in trying to get blacks to embrace their ideology. One was black allegiance to ideals of America as enshrined in its Declaration of Independence and the U. S. Constitution; Black People wanted to be able to fully partake of the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the rights of the U. S. Constitution, especially the rights guaranteed us by the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments which were put there especially for Americans of African descent, though some of these rights are basic for everyone. Secondly the vast majority of Black Americans were, and still are, Christians; the atheism of communism did not set will with them. And thirdly, Americans of African heritage did not like the idea of getting directions from Russia where their interests were subordinated to those of the USSR. In short, Black Americans did not buy into communism, with the exception of some intellectuals, W.E.B. DuBois and Paul Roberson being among them.
Many of the people who have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement are the latter day descendants of the Communist Party USA, still using its strategy of “boring from within”14 to get control. Just as they infiltrated civil rights and black protest movements throughout the 20th century, they have infiltrated the George Floyd protest movement for the purpose of advancing their own agenda of socialist transformation. Around 1900, W.E.B. DuBois said that the problem of the 20th century was the color line. I submit that the problem of the 21st century is the struggle between socialism and free enterprise (capitalism) and the direction that the present protest has taken is more a reflection of that struggle than the struggle over racial injustice. That struggle is evident within the Democratic Party; some believe that the socialists have won.
I do not want to convey the impression that I think all is well in America. There are racists in America. Race prejudiced exists, but that does not make America a racist country. There are some police reforms that need to be instituted to address the reality of police harassment and inappropriate use of physical force. The President and the Congress are now addressing some of these issues. However, I would be remiss to not point out that we Americans of African heritage have to bring something to the table. We have to work more diligently to get our people, especially young people, to start respecting the lives and property of each other. Our behaviors have to change. There is too much crime committed by us in our communities. All of us, including elders like myself, are to blame. We have let our children down by not providing them with the right role models, primarily through the way we live our lives. We males have to raise our children (with their mothers). The best way to do that is to marry the one who has our children and to stay with her. The Bible has given us the blueprint. We just need to heed it. We need to stop some of the talk about what the “white man” is doing to us and begin to live as overcoming Christians, if you are a Christian, which most of us are. We have to stop seeing ourselves as victims. Do you believe that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you? Does not the Bible say, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, KJV). Proverbs 23:7 tells us as a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he”. If you think that you are oppressed, you will be oppressed. You will not believe that through Christ, you are more than an overcomer and you will crumble when tribulations come your way, even though Jesus said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, KJV). If He has overcome the world, you too have overcome the world.
There are many Black Men and Women on police forces throughout the nation, especially in metropolitan areas where many of the high profile shootings have occurred. Do not think that black police officers are immune to the impact of the anti-police rhetoric. A tragic case involving a young African-American Baton Rouge police officer which happened after police shootings in Dallas and Baton Rouge. The young man was tragically killed in an anti-cop ambush. He talked about the emotional impact of the anti-police movement on him before he was killed. The following account was published in the Washington Times in July of 2016:
“A week before he was killed in Sunday’s anti-cop ambush, Baton Rouge Officer Montrell Jackson lamented in a Facebook post the distrust and hatred he had received, even by people close to him.
In a post accompanied by his holding his newborn son, Officer Jackson described himself as “tired physically and emotionally” but swore he’d not give in. “This city MUST and WILL get better. I’m working in these streets, so any protesters, officers, friends, family, or whoever, if you see me and need a hug or want to say a prayer, I got you,” he wrote in a July 8 post that went viral Sunday evening. In the post, he even takes to task “family, friends, and officers for some reckless comments.”
“I swear to God I love this city but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty hateful looks and out of uniform some consider me a threat,” he wrote. Officer Jackson, writing a few days after the on-camera shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling, said that the distrust wasn’t simply to his uniform, but to his civilian life as a black man.
“I’ve experienced so much in my short life and these last 3 days have tested me to the core. When people you know begin to question your integrity your realize they don’t know you at all.” He wrote.
He concluded the post with divine exhortations and optimism.
“Finally I personally want to send prayers out to everyone directly affected by this tragedy. These are trying times. Please don’t let hate infect your heart,” Officer Jackson wrote.
The 10-year veteran of the Baton Rouge Police Department was 32.”
The Featured Image of this post is Officer Jackson and his infant son.
Don’t the lives of black police officers matter?
References and Notes
- Department of Justice – Federal Bureau of Investigation (December 11, 2017). FBI releases 2016 NIBRS crime statistics in report and CDE
- Mac Donald, Heather (2016). The danger of the “Black Lives Matter” movement, Imprimis, April 2016, Vol. 45, No. 4.
- Bui, Quoctrung and Amanda Cox (JULY 11, 2016). Surprising new evidence shows bias in police use of force but not in shootings, New York Times.
- Johnson, David J., Trevor Tress, Nicole Burkel, Carley Taylor, and Joseph Cesario (August 6, 2019). Officer characteristics and racial disparities in fatal officer-involved shootings. PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Accessed at: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/32/15877.full (6/9/2020)
- Department of Justice (2015). Department of Justice report regarding the criminal investigation into the shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, p.5.
- DOJ, p.83.
- DOJ, Footnote, p. 83.
- DOJ, p. 82.
- DOJ, p. 86.
- CBS News/AP (August 31, 2015). “Pigs in a blanket” chant at Minnesota fair riles police. Accessed at https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pigs-in-a-blanket-chant-at-minnesota-fair-riles-police/
- Cole, Nicki Lisa, Ph.D. “Definition of Systemic Racism in Sociology.” ThoughtCo, Feb. 11, 2020, thoughtco.com/systemic-racism-3026565.
- The Times – Picayune New Orleans Advocate (June 12, 2020).
- Record, Wilson (1951). The Negro and the Communist Party. Atheneum: New York.
– Record states the following “The failure of the Stalinists to capture the allegiance of colored America can be explained by the Party’s umbilical attachment to the Kremlin, which inevitably relegate the question of Negro rights to a position of secondary importance. But behind this failure also lies the Communists’ inability to see the black citizen for what he is. In his embracement of the ideal of equality, the Negro has shown that he is an American in the most fundamental sense, for the egalitarian aspiration stem