Predictably, Friday’s police shooting of a black man in Atlanta has already begun to amplify the police-hating rhetoric of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and its allies. And that rhetoric, coupled with widespread demands for the defunding of police departments nationwide, will most definitely result in a massive increase in violent crime throughout urban America over the course of the next year or more. You can bet your life on that. How do we know this? We know it, with full certainty, because of the very clear and obvious precedent that was set just a few years back, under similar circumstances.
Between 2013 and 2015, a number of black criminal suspects who died in the course of highly publicized altercations with police officers joined the late Trayvon Martin as the latest martyred icons of the BLM movement. Prominent among these were Eric Garner (New York), Michael Brown (Ferguson, Missouri), Tamir Rice (Cleveland), Timothy Russell (Cleveland), Malissa Williams (Cleveland), and Freddie Gray (Baltimore). High-profile political leaders such as President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and the mayors of the cities where the aforementioned deaths took place, routinely depicted race as a major underlying factor in those deaths.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance – explicitly exhorting New Yorkers to remember that “black lives matter” – lamented the “centuries of racism” whose legacy was, in his view, still influencing the actions of too many police officers. And in the aftermath of Freddie Gray’s death in April 2015, Baltimore mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, citing her desire “to reform my [police] department,” willfully “gave those [rioters] who wished to destroy, space to do that.”
In New York, Baltimore, and elsewhere in urban America, law-enforcement officers responded to the anti-police climate by becoming less proactive in apprehending criminals, particularly for low-level offenses. The Washington Post, for one, reported that by late 2015: “Arrests, summonses and pedestrian stops were dropping in many cities…. Arrests in St. Louis City and County, for example, fell by a third after the shooting of Michael Brown. Misdemeanor drug arrests fell by two-thirds in Baltimore.”
First-hand accounts by police officers told the same story. As one officer in South Central Los Angeles explained, his colleagues were routinely “saying to each other: ‘If you get out of your [police] car, you’re crazy, unless there’s a radio call.’” And in Chicago, then-mayor Rahm Emanuel lamented that the members of his police force had gone “fetal.” “They have pulled back from the ability to interdict,” he said. “They don’t want to be a news story themselves, they don’t want their career ended early, and it’s having an impact.”
A 97-page Pew Research Center report titled “Behind the Badge” – which tabulated the results of a questionnaire that had been sent to nearly 8,000 officers in more than 100 police departments nationwide – confirmed the fact that police officers had become extremely reluctant to engage criminals except where absolutely necessary. For instance, the survey found that 95 percent of officers in large police departments, and 88 percent of those in smaller ones, were more worried about being harmed in the course of duty than they had been in the past; 85 percent of officers in large departments, and 63 percent of those in smaller ones, had become more reluctant to use force against criminal suspects when appropriate; and 86 percent of officers in large departments, and 54 percent of those in smaller ones, had become less likely to stop and question people who seemed suspicious.
These changes in policing practices led directly to a dramatic spike in urban violence – a phenomenon that Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald dubbed “The Ferguson Effect,” whose name derived from the August 2014 killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Some real-world examples of the Ferguson Effect included the following:
- During the three months that immediately followed August 2014, homicides in St. Louis city, located just 12 miles from Ferguson, rose by 47%. Robberies in St. Louis County, meanwhile, increased by 82%.
- From January through May of 2015 in New York City, the incidence of murder was 20% higher than it had been during the first five months of 2014, and shooting incidents were up 9% as well. During those same five months in Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% compared to the same period in 2014. The corresponding figures for Los Angeles were a 23% rise in shootings and a 25% upturn in other violent crimes. And in Chicago, shootings were up 25% and homicides were up 18%.
- From January through March of 2015 in Houston, murders were up nearly 100% compared to the same period in 2014.
- Following the protests and riots sparked by the April 12, 2015 death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, shootings in that city increased by more than 60% compared to the same period a year earlier. In May 2015, Baltimore recorded 43 murders—the most in any month since August 1972.
In 2015 overall, America’s 56 largest cities experienced a 17% rise in homicides. Twelve cities with large black populations saw their murder totals rise still more dramatically – e.g., by 54% in D.C., 60% in Newark, 72% in Milwaukee, 83% in Nashville, and 90% in Cleveland. “Robberies also surged in the 81 largest cities in the 12 months after the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson,” reported the Washington Post. A report for the Justice Department characterized these broad trends as “nearly unprecedented.”
The nationwide spike in urban violence continued into 2016. During the first quarter of that year, homicides in America’s 63 largest cities increased by 9%, while nonfatal shootings were up 21%. The situation in Chicago was particularly bad: From January through March of 2016, stops by police were down nearly 90% from a comparable time period in 2015, while shootings by civilians were up 50% over 2015, and up 87% compared with 2014. By the end of 2016, civilian-committed homicides had increased in 16 of the nation’s 20 largest police departments, and most of the victims of those homicides were black.
After an 8-year period during which annual homicide totals for the U.S. as a whole had declined steeply and steadily from 17,309 in 2006 to 14,164 in 2014, the total suddenly skyrocketed to 15,883 in 2015 and 17,413 in 2016 – a 23% increase in just two years.
And now, as a result of the riots that have struck so many U.S. cities over the past two weeks – coupled with the relentless, incendiary denunciations directed toward police officers – we are already seeing exactly the same ominous trends in cities across America. As pastor Michael Pfleger observed in Chicago last Monday: “On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing.’ I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour. No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.” On another recent day, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot lamented: “The number of sites that have been up and run over by looters today is in the hundreds. Hundreds…. I’ve been on calls and text messages with people all day today who fought hard to bring economic development to areas of the city only to see the Walgreens, the CVS, the grocery store, everything vanished in an eyeblink.… It’s going to take a herculean effort to convince businesses not to disappear.”
On Sunday, May 31, the Chicago Police Department responded to 18 separate homicides, breaking the city’s previous one-day record of 13, set 29 years ago. According to an ABC News report: “Between 6 p.m. on May 29 and 11:59 p.m. on May 31, Chicago police responded to at least 73 incidents in which 92 people were shot, including 27 who were killed.”
Similarly, in St. Louis during the weekend of June 6-7, no fewer than 21 people were shot, six fatally. Meanwhile, during the first week of June, homicides in Los Angeles were up 250% compared to the previous week, and the total number of gunshot victims was up 56%. And in New York City, there were 13 murders from June 1 through June 7 – as compared to just 5 during that same week last year.
As was the case when we saw the Ferguson Effect take its deadly toll on America’s cities in 2015-16, a very large percentage of the current victims of ramped-up urban violence are, once again, black people. In other words, the very same people in whose name Black Lives Matter claims to be acting, are the ones who typically pay with their lives. This leaves us with only one very obvious conclusion: Black Lives Matter doesn’t give a damn about black lives; it only cares about advancing its America-hating, revolutionary Marxist agenda. Period.