In the wake of the murder of five police officers in Dallas, liberal politicians walked a fine line between offering uncharacteristically kind words about law enforcement and maintaining that Black Lives Matter protesters have legitimate grievances.
Unarmed, non-violent black men accounted for only 1.5 percent of police killings in 2015.
“When people say ‘black lives matter,’ it doesn’t mean that blue lives don’t matter,” President Obama said on Friday. “But right now, the data shows that black folks are more vulnerable to these kinds of incidents.”
Unfortunately for Obama, the data shows no such thing. In fact, there is no racial bias when it comes to police shootings, according to a new study by Harvard economics professor Roland G. Fryer Jr.
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“It is the most surprising result of my career,” Fryer, who is black, told The New York Times. The study examined more than a thousand shootings in 10 major police departments across the country.
While Fryer’s study does suggest that blacks are treated differently and unfairly when it comes to forms low-level police force — such as roughing up, handcuffs, holding a gun to someone, etc. — it found absolutely no racial disparity in police use of lethal force.
“On the most extreme use of force — officer-involved shootings — we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account,” the report states.
Fryer believes strongly that differences in experience of low-level police force are what drives anti-law-enforcement feeling in the black community. “It is hard to believe that the world is your oyster if the police can rough you up without punishment,” Fryer said. “And when I talked to minority youth, almost every single one of them mentions lower level uses of force as the reason why they believe the world is corrupt.”
But there is a crucial difference between recognizing that blacks may be more likely than whites to be roughed up by police officers and claiming that the average black male lives in ever-present danger of being shot by racist police officers. The Black Lives Matter movement is very much built on the latter — and false — claim.
Fryer’s study is the latest in a veritable library of data that undermines entirely the Black Lives Matter narrative of America as a lawless place where corrupt, racist cops gun down black men for sport.
In 2015, after the controversial shooting of Michael Brown the previous year, The Washington Post began tracking police shootings and has created a searchable database. A total of 990 people were killed by police officers in 2015, and 897 of them were armed.
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Of the 93 unarmed people shot by police officers in 2015, 38 were black men. Thirteen of those black men, though unarmed, were in the middle of attacking police officers or civilians when they were shot. That means that of the 990 people shot by cops in 2015, 15 were unarmed blacks posing no imminent danger to an officer or a civilian. That means unarmed, non-violent black men accounted for only 1.5 percent of police killings in 2015.
Moreover, Fryer found in his study that in split-second “shoot/don’t shoot” situations, officers in Houston, Texas were roughly 20 percent less likely to shoot a black suspect than a white one. This echoes a Washington State University study released in April.
Researchers there found that “officers took significantly longer to shoot armed black suspects than armed white suspects.” They also discovered that “officers were significantly less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.” The researchers found that “officers were slightly more than three times less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects than unarmed white suspects.”
The Washington State University study also reflects the research of Peter Moskos, assistant professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York. Moskos examined police shootings from May 2013 through April 2015 and found that if “one adjusts for the racial disparity in the homicide rate or the rate at which police are feloniously killed, whites are actually more likely to be killed by police than blacks.”
“Adjusted for the homicide rate, whites are 1.7 times more likely than blacks die at the hands of police,” Moskos said. “Adjusted for the racial disparity at which police are feloniously killed, whites are 1.3 times more likely than blacks to die at the hands of police.”