by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The media’s contempt for Trump’s use of the phrase “carnage” to describe the rising violence in the inner city is particularly ludicrous. The press has slavishly amplified the Black Lives Matter claim that we are living through an epidemic of racist police shootings of black men. A New York Times editorial from July 2016 was titled “When Will the Killing Stop?” That same month, President Barack Obama asserted that black mothers and fathers were right to fear that their child will be killed by a cop — remarkably, he made this claim during the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down by a Black Lives Matter–inspired assassin. …
… So if Trump is so contemptibly misguided in his description of the rising street violence over the last two years as “carnage,” how does that criminal violence compare with the supposed epidemic of cop killings of black men? In 2015, the last year for which we have official national data, more than 6,000 black males, according to the FBI, were killed by criminals, themselves overwhelmingly black. That is 900 more black males killed in 2015 than in the year before, but the number of black victims was undoubtedly higher even than that, since an additional 2,000 homicide victims were reported to the FBI without a racial identity. Black males make up about half of the nation’s homicide victims, so they presumably make up a similar share of racially unclassified homicide victims.
According to several uncontradicted non-governmental estimates, homicides continued rising throughout 2016, thanks to what I have called the “Ferguson effect”: officers backing off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, under the relentless charge of racism, and the resulting increase in violent crime.
The year 2016, therefore, probably also saw well over 6,000 black males murdered on the streets. By contrast, the nation’s police fatally shot 16 “unarmed” black males and 20 “unarmed” white males in 2016, according to the Washington Post’s database of police killings. I have put “unarmed” in quotes because the Post’s classification of “unarmed” victims rarely conveys the violence that the suspect directed at the shooting officer. But even when we take the “unarmed” classification at face value, those 16 fatal police shootings of unarmed black men represent no more than 0.2 percent of all black male lives lost to homicide in 2016. If police shootings of allegedly unarmed black males represent a national epidemic of bloodshed, then what should we call the gunning down of over 375 times that number of black men by criminals? “Carnage” seems like a pretty good descriptor. In Chicago alone in 2016, 24 children under the age of twelve, overwhelmingly black, were shot.