The world’s reaction and the media coverage which followed the death of Princess Diana dwarfed anything we’d experienced before. Aside from her enormous fame, it was her vulnerabilities which endeared so many to her and made people feel a connection with her. Still, at a certain point, the tributes and the stories became too much to stand and writer William Safire famously urged each and every one of us “to get a life.”
Likewise, the reaction to George Floyd’s death has triggered a titanic response. As every conservative has written in the last two weeks, fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s actions after taking Floyd into police custody were inexcusable. He is directly responsibility for Floyd’s death. We are all in agreement on that.
However, Chauvin’s conduct wasn’t typical police officer behavior and everyone knows that. Far from it. The left is acting as if police treat suspects in this manner all the time because it supports their narrative. The reason it was so shocking is because it rarely happens.
Even more shocking is what came next.
We now have terrorist organizations making ludicrous demands on local governments across the country. In Seattle, Antifa has commandeered City Hall. In Washington, D.C., the Mayor has had “Black Lives Matter” painted in massive letters on the street next to the White House and renamed that section after the group. BLM has dismissed that gesture. Instead, the group wants action please and has issued a list of demands. Disgraced Mayor Bill de Blasio of NYC on Sunday vowed to name at least one prominent street in each borough of the city after Black Lives Matter.
A woman in Chicago went on a rant over the weekend because, dammit, she wanted to loot and store owners were standing outside their stores with AK-47s to prevent it.
A UCLA professor was suspended because he refused to exempt black students from final exams. How could these young people seriously keep their minds on their studies when George Floyd has been killed?
A woke NPR writer tells us to comb through our bookshelves and make sure we have enough books authored by people of color.
This has truly reached epic proportions.
Why is everyone appeasing this group?
I ran across an op-ed this morning written by The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley, a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. Mr. Riley is black.
Mr. Riley notes the elevated level of violence in U.S. cities (unrelated to the riots). He specifically cites Chicago where 18 people were killed in one day (May 31). He writes:
None of these deaths or shootings involved police, so there will be no massive protests over them, no tearful commentary on cable news and social media, no white politicians wrapped in Kente cloth taking a knee for photographers.
According to the Sun-Times, there were 492 homicides in Chicago last year, and only three of them involved police.
Blacks account for 13% of the population, yet they account for over 50% of murders and robberies. Riley points out that “so long as almost all of their victims are their neighbors, these communities will draw the lion’s share of police attention. Defunding the police, or making it easier to prosecute officers, will only result in more lives lost in those neighborhoods that most need protecting.”
He warns that any discussion about police reform “needs perspective and context, and the press rarely provides it. People are protesting because the public has been led to believe that racist cops are gunning for blacks, yet the available evidence shows that police use of deadly force has plunged in recent decades, including in big cities with large populations of low-income minorities. In the early 1970s, New York City police officers shot more than 300 people a year. By 2019 that number had fallen to 34.” Riley explains:
Part of the confusion stems from attempts to equate any racial disparities with racism, which is as mistaken as equating age and gender disparities with systemic discrimination. Young people are incarcerated at higher rates than older people, and men draw more police attention than women. Is something fishy going on here, or do such outcomes simply reflect the fact that young men are behind most violent crimes? When journalists break down police behavior by race but don’t do the same for criminal behavior, you’re not getting the whole story.
A recent New York Times report, for example, tells us that the racial makeup of Minneapolis is 20% black and 60% white, and that police there “used force against black people at a rate at least seven times that of white people during the past five years.” Left out of the story are the rates at which blacks and whites in Minneapolis commit crime in general and violent crime in particular. Nor are we told whether there is any evidence that white and black suspects of similar offenses are treated differently. Minneapolis may in fact have issues with police bias, but drawing conclusions about the extent of the problem or even whether one exists would be premature based on the information provided.
Reports about race and policing that omit relevant facts to push a predetermined narrative are not only misleading but harmful, especially to blacks. We know from decades of experience that when police pull back, criminals gain the advantage and black communities suffer, both physically and economically.
It’s notable that, following the riots in the late 1960s, many businesses left the cities. I posted yesterday that Walmart specifically is currently deciding if they want to reopen all of their Chicago locations after rioters looted and damaged them. Other city businesses are having the same debate. These companies employ a disproportionate number of low-skilled workers, jobs that will go away if these stores do not reopen.
Would you want to operate a business in a city that was reducing the size of its police force, especially after it had just been completely looted and ransacked?
Contrary to what many Democrats believe, most of the big-city mayors and a majority of governors don’t know much about the relationship that exist between businesses and safety (policing) or how their taxation decisions attract or repel businesses from investing in their communities. They make their decisions based on their political beliefs (if they actually have any) or what they believe will poll best. Most of the time, the “liberal” decision whether that means reducing the police department budget or raising taxes, drives away businesses. Which drives away jobs, increases economic insecurity, increases misery and ultimately drives up the crime rate.
On a recent conference call, a city alderman asked Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot how their constituents were supposed to get food and medicine if “every CVS, every Walgreens is shutting down.” Another asked, “How do businesses recover and why would they want to recover in our community?” She said “she was aware this was a “massive, massive problem. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen sh** like this before, not in Chicago.” The rioters, she said, were “f**king lawless.” Well, she better come up with some workable solutions soon. But instead, she’ll probably defund the police and raise taxes on the businesses that stay.
All of this was sparked by the extraordinarily bad decision of one bad cap in Minneapolis who ended the life of an otherwise unremarkable Minneapolis man.
It was an atrocity, but it was an anomaly.
The reaction to Floyd’s death has now reached biblical proportions.
Americans better get a grip on it pretty soon because if we keep appeasing groups like Black Lives Matter, our problems will become existential.