STATISTICS, ENFORCEMENT AND THE RACIAL DIVIDE

Black Live Matter is a group that carries a lot of clout in the political-racial landscape in America. That’s obvious. What’s not obvious are the statistical facts about alleged racism in law enforcement and justice which shows that all people of all ethnic and racial bases can, and often are, holding prejudices. Of course, Black Lives do Matter, but that’s not to the exclusion of white, browns, Latinos, Asians, females, males, midgets and giants. We ALL matter.
     Too often we hear about terrible disparities in crime statistics and the justice systems in general, particularly as it pertains to race. Based on sheer numbers, it appears that these systems, comprising police, courts and prisons, are prejudiced against black people, invoking accusations of systemic racism at its worst. For the most part, it’s simply not true. Key word: “systemic.”
     Yes, statistics are grossly disproportionate. But there’s a reason. FBI and the Bureau of Justice reveal that over a period of 28 years, 1980 to 2008, over 52 percent of murders were committed by blacks, while 45 percent were by whites. Yet blacks comprise only 12.7 of the population, and black males only 6.3 percent. Thus, citing the sheer numbers of whites versus blacks in criminal research, lopsided population ratios has nothing to do with a racist system. It means a very small segment of the population is responsible for a disproportionate number of violent crimes. That’s just a fact.
     Statistics are not a valid gauge from which to judge fairness. If we were held to a ratio goal, based on demographics, females should occupy prison cells by 51 percent and males only 49 percent. But records tell us that only 10.5 percent of homicide convictions are female. Even more ridiculous is suggesting that males are unfairly targeted for sex crime arrests compared to females. Never mind, that 98.9 percent of all arrests for rape are males.
     Unfair? Should cops be arresting people according to population ratios pertaining to race and gender? Should half of those arrested for perpetrating rape, be women?
     Of course, that’s absurd. But so is claiming that the prison populations should comprise numbers in line with racial demographics.
    Some folks constantly invoke the bane of racism, which does more harm than good. That may be warranted in isolated cases, but not all. I recently engaged in a short debate with a local African-American attorney, compliments of Florida Today’s civility discussion program, in which the topic was the “Black Lives Matter” movement which suggests that too many cops are predisposed to systemic bias against blacks. The debate never addressed the origins of that movement which, in truth, had nothing to do with racial discrimination.
     “Black Lives Matter” spiraled from the 2014 shooting death of 18 year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, after he had just robbed a local store. When Officer Darren Wilson spotted two suspects walking on the roadway, he stopped and ordered them to get off the street. Big boy Brown charged the police car and sucker-punched the cop through the window, then attempted to wrest the officer’s pistol away. Imagine how surprised that cop was.
     Brown had committed serious felonies. As he turned away, the officer rightfully ordered the felon to stop, at gunpoint. Instead, Brown again charged the officer in a menacing manner. This mammoth “boy” stood over six feet and weighed over 300 pounds. Wilson fired. Brown died.
     Some media journalists used explosive terms emphasizing how the “child” was “unarmed,” which ignited the community into outrage. The shooting was ultimately deemed justified when a grand jury heard testimony from several eye witnesses, all black. Eric Holder, Attorney General, did not file federal charges because there were none validated.
     The town of Ferguson suffered riots causing damages to homes and businesses by the millions. The department was criticized for not having enough black officers, in contrast to demographics. Never mind, that most local young adult blacks could not qualify because of police records, or had no interest in being associated with law enforcement. It was tough to get young black males to apply.
     I understand that dilemma, having faced similar situations following the Miami riots of 1980.
     The Ferguson incident remains the poster case which elevated “Black Lives Matter” to prominence though based on a falsehood. Officer Wilson didn’t shoot Michael Brown because he was black. The “boy” had already assaulted and attempted to disarm the cop. And, the “boy” was huge.
     There’s always more to the story. Sure, there may be exceptions, but to blame crime’s lopsided statistics on actions taken by on-the-line officers as “systemic” racism is just not true. Not in today’s climate.
     Truth be told, ALL lives matter.