Following the death of George Floyd in May of last year, our country was embroiled in yet another national conversation about race and policing. This conversation has never really ended, and has now been broadened to include bizarre proposals such as ending the, “western-prescribed nuclear family structure.” While abolishing the nuclear family is definitely a bad idea for the Black American community, there are plenty of good-faith and kind-hearted Americans who care deeply about these issues and are coming to the table with smart ideas. If we want to effectuate real change in the lives of marginalized Americans, this national conversation must be centered around rule of law, not the chaotic and violent rioting that ended up defining the summer of 2020. The heavy oppression felt by many Black Americans is the oppression of gang violence, drug trafficking, and brutal poverty — not police brutality. In order to better serve communities of color, police first need to be able to serve. If freed up to do their jobs, police presence in black neighborhoods makes lives better, not worse.
In discussions about police brutality, it is essential to understand just how pervasive it is. In a study released in February of 2021 by Skeptic magazine, respondents were divided into political leanings, and then asked how many unarmed black men they believed were killed by police in 2019. The study concluded that, “the more people reported being ‘liberal’ or ‘very liberal’ […] the greater the discrepancy between the available data and their estimations.” In other words, folks who considered themselves “very liberal” believed there were about 1,000 unarmed black men killed by police in 2019, when the number was actually 13. When the actual data is analyzed, the only conclusion one can come to is that police racism is not the epidemic that many on the left allege. The actual epidemic facing Black America, of which white, affluent liberals will never understand, is violence.
While it is clearly over-simplistic to spew rhetoric about “black on black violence,” there is literally no time to waste denying the impact of violence and crime on family structures, economies, and overall quality of life is devastating. Young Black Americans, primarily men, are murdered at 13 times the national average. In 2018, Black Americans were 73% of shooting victims in New York City, despite only being a quarter of the city’s population. The weekend of May 29th, 2020, was the most violent weekend in Chicago since the University of Chicago began to track crime.
As unprecedented levels of homicide continue to destroy Black neighborhoods, soy latte-sipping progressives in Portland are demanding that state legislatures fire the people whose job it is to die to save Black Americans: the police. In a spectacle of political cowardice, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey retreated on his promise to defund the Minneapolis Police Department. Instead, the Minneapolis City Council, which is controlled entirely by progressives, authorized an additional $6.4 million in funding for police after “residents (complained) of slow response times, increase in crime.” While Minneapolis was able to reverse course, Black Minnesotans paid for the progresive city council’s disastrous decision with blood.
There are many worthwhile ideas and reforms that may result in better policing. These ideas include reforming or abolishing qualified immunity, changing hiring requirements, or promoting more community outreach. Sadly, none of these conversations or legislation get any attention, as some performative activists dominate the national conversation and airwaves through violence and outrage. Sen. Tim Scott, a Black Republican, had his perfectly reasonable police reform bill thrown out by Senate Democrats before he could get a word in. There are few, if any, people who believe there are no problems with the police. Things can always be better, but when loud-mouth activists let the perfect be the enemy of the good, everyone, especially minorities, are worse off.
In the meantime, Americans across the country would be wise to do what we have done for centuries: support our brave police officers. While it’s obvious that burning down Black businesses does nothing to help increase quality of life for Black Americans, a Harvard University study concluded that viral internet activism caused “almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies.” Conversely, when police officers are allowed to do their job. Study after study has found an inverse relationship between police and crime; in other words, more police means less crime. For the same reason, minority neighborhoods who suffer from high amounts of crime are not overpoliced, they are underpoliced. High levels of violence, and a perception that they are not needed, make it difficult for police officers to do their jobs. Part of the solution means simply having their backs, but in order to best serve communities of color, American cities would be wise to increase police funding so that they have the resources to get tough on the violence that kills fathers, brothers, and so many other honest Americans.