Diary

We Need to Stop Pretending That Black Lives Matter . . .

AP Photo/Noah Berger

. . . because in the City of Brotherly Love, it’s very apparent that they don’t.

The Current Crime Statistics released by the Philadelphia Police Department note that, as of 11:59 PM EDT on October 21st, 391 souls had been sent to their eternal rewards. That isn’t the record, of course, but 2007 is the base year on the Current Crime Statistics website, and that was the number of people killed that year in Philly. This year has now matched that total . . . with 71 days left in the year.

The math is simple: 391 people killed in 295 days so far equals 1.325 people killed every single day. With 71 days left in the year, at that rate the city should see another 94 people sent to their deaths before the ball drops in New York City.

391 + 94 = 485.

That would not be a new record; 1990 holds that dubious honor with 505, killings, and 1989 comes in second with 489, but 485 would be solidly in third place!

According to the Philadelphia Shooting Victims Dashboard, since 2015, 6,129 shooting victims in the city had been black males; that’s 75.59% of them. Another 518 (6.39%) were black females. 1,102 of the shootings, 77.77%, which were fatal were of black males; while black females added another 72, or 5.08%.

I have noted previously that the Philadelphia media aren’t overly concerned with murder victims anymore, unless the victim is a cute little white girl. I suppose that’s reasonable, because the killing of white women is pretty rare: since 2015, only 15 white women were shot to death, 1.06% of the total. Sixty-two white males were killed in that same time frame, 4.38%. A black woman is more likely to be murdered than a white male in the City of Brotherly Love.

At least as of 4:30 PM, The Philadelphia Inquirer hadn’t noted this ‘milestone’ in city killings, but it sure had a big story, from yesterday, still up on the main page:

‘We’re not going to disappear’

Philadelphia Black Lives Matter activists say they’re building the movement beyond protests — they’re confronting the disparities that put people in the criminal justice system in the first place

by Oona Goodin-Smith, Anna Orso and Raishad Hardnett | October 21, 2020

For the umpteenth time this year, they assembled under the ivory glow of Philadelphia City Hall, cardboard signs and megaphones in hand. The air was crisper than when they began the crusade for George Floyd 116 days prior, but the unrelenting chant from the crowd in September was familiar.

“Say her name, Breonna Taylor.”

“Is my brother next?” one woman’s sign read. “This isn’t change,” declared another. “This system has got to go down!” a demonstrator yelled to the crowd.

For activists like Christopher Bowman, protesting is only the beginning.

“The final step is just community advancement,” said Bowman, a Philadelphia teacher who was teargassed and detained on I-676 in June and inspired to cofound I Will Breathe, an organization fighting racial injustice.

The #BlackLivesMatter activists are very, very worried about the cops:

After Philadelphia’s summer of protests against police brutality and systemic racism, activists are moving into a new season. They’re sustaining momentum by expanding their objectives and establishing their own community group model, working in the neighborhoods they want the city to invest in.

But the numbers say that the police aren’t the black community’s problem in Philly. Using the same site, and selecting for “Officer Involved,” we find 23 such shootings in 2015 and 2016, dropping to 13, 12, 9 and 8 (so far) in subsequent years. (The site does not correct for fatal vs non-fatal in this option.)

Eight officer involved shootings thus far in 2020, out of 1,684, which is 0.475% of the total.

The problem isn’t police brutality; it’s brutality within the black community, because the vast majority of the black people in our cities who are murdered are murdered by other black people.

“Our solutions live within ourselves and not within the system,” said YahNé Ndgo, a core organizer with Black Lives Matter Philly. As she sees it, activists are themselves building programming that’s “making a positive difference in our community.”

“We’re not being antipolice. We’re being antiviolence and pro-health and pro-community,” she said. “And [others] will see that we’re building toward all those things and not seeking to remove something and leave a vacuum, but to replace something that is not healthy for our community.”

Some activists spent the summer calling for police abolition, while others believe policing should remain, but have ideas for reform. Across the city, dozens of groups — new and established — protested, and each had unique priorities.

Are there no mirrors in the black community in Philadelphia? The problem isn’t the police, but the members of their own communities. But no one is willing to say that, because, why, that could sound raaaaacist.

Well, the #BlackLivesMatter protesters got what they wanted, even before this year’s protests, with the election of Democrat Larry Krasner as District Attorney. When the editors of The Philadelphia Inquirer, surprisingly, endorsed Republican Beth Grossman over Democrat Larry Krasner for District Attorney. Daniel Denvir waxed wroth:

The Philadelphia Inquirer just endorsed mass incarceration

by Daniel Denvir | October 17, 2017

In May, Philadelphians went to the polls and made history, voting by a large margin to back civil rights attorney Larry Krasner in the city’s Democratic primary for district attorney. On Sunday, residents awoke to find that the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board had endorsed Krasner’s Republican opponent, Beth Grossman, a former top prosecutor in the District Attorney’s Office.

Krasner rallied Philadelphians to an upstart, radical campaign calling for an end to the era of mass incarceration and impunity for police misconduct. The city’s struggling paper of record endorsed a candidate who presided over a nationally infamous civil asset forfeiture program through which prosecutors seized homes and other property from city residents, oftentimes poor and working-class, black and Latino. At least, the editorial gushed, she has “a welcome hesitancy to go for the death penalty.”

Philadelphians want change. The Inquirer board ploddingly declared itself for the enervating cause of defending an intolerable status quo that will most likely be defeated on election day.

But points for consistency: Grossman is the second candidate for top prosecutor the paper has endorsed who has also been backed by the city’s Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #5, an unapologetically reactionary officers union headed by a man who recently called Black Lives Matter protesters “a pack of wild animals.” That first FOP-backed candidate the Inquirer endorsed was Rich Negrin, one of Krasner’s primary opponents. Oddly, the board’s praise for Negrin included a note that the “criminal justice pendulum has been swinging in a new direction for some time, away from ‘tough on crime,’” but failed to mention that it was Krasner’s insurgent, movement-based campaign that had swung the primary field to the left.

After a few more paragraphs of such drivel, Mr Denvir wrote:

In reality, the board’s rationale is a pretext to protect an office that has long prized convictions and lengthy sentences regardless of the costs or whether the outcomes comport with any sense of justice. The Inquirer praises Grossman for her career going “after drug dealers, gunslingers, thieves, and blighters” and her “passion for defending the rights of crime victims.” Not a word about mass incarceration. To editorialize in favor of such a brutal status quo is an insult to the Philadelphians on whose behalf the board purports to be writing.

Well, Mr Denvir got his wish: Larry Krasner won the election. And rather than Mrs Grossman going “after drug dealers, gunslingers, thieves, and blighters,” the City of Brotherly Love has a District Attorney who does not do that, who fired a whole slew of veteran prosecutors upon taking office, and who certainly doesn’t believe in “mass incarceration.”

The result? In 2018, Mr Krasner’s first year in office, city homicides jumped from 315 to 353, a 12.06% increase. The following year, homicides held almost steady, rising to 356, but so far this year, 391 people have been murdered in Philadelphia, a 39.64% increase over the same day  last year.

The cost of Mr Krasner’s victory, and the policies Mr Denvir wanted to see put in place, has been written in blood. Philadelphia has seen more murders, many more murders than New York City, which has more than five times Philly’s population.

Philadelphia’s daily average inmate population was 6,409 when Mr Krasner took office, and was down to 4,849 on August 31, 2019. That’s the end, sort of, of ‘mass incarceration,’ but it sure hasn’t resulted in less violence on the city’s streets. The problem isn’t mass incarceration; the problem is that not enough criminals are incarcerated.

Black lives don’t matter, at least not in Philadelphia, because the black community apparently does not care enough about them to address the problem within itself.
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