I want to take note of two recent posts by Bill Otis at Crime & Consequences. The first post reports murder statistics in twelve major U.S. cities in 2020. In ten of them, murders increased by more than 30 percent — ranging from 74.1 percent in Seattle to 30.4 percent in Los Angeles. The other two cities, Washington, D.C. and Las Vegas, also reported increases (19.4 percent and 14.3 percent, respectively) that, in an ordinary year, would cause raised eyebrows, if not alarm.
All but one of these cities is headed by a Democratic mayor. The exception is Las Vegas. Its mayor, Carolyn Goodman, is a former Democrat who currently identifies as an independent.
Here are the mayors, as of 2020, of the five cities on Bill’s list that saw a spike in murders of more than 50 percent last year:
Seattle: Jenny Durkan
New Orleans: LaToya Cantrell
Atlanta: Keisha Lance Bottoms
Chicago: Lori Lightfoot
Boston: Marty Walsh (now Joe Biden’s Secretary of Labor)
Bill’s second post deals with the question of whether race is the driving factor in fatal encounters between the police and American citizens. Bill cites Rich Lowry for the proposition that race is not. Lowry states:
[T]he cases [of black and white shooting victims] are largely indistinguishable — how they started, how they played out, and, emphatically, how they ended.
This is the overall sense that one gets from the Washington Post’s famous database of police-involved shootings. Reading through it, there is no stark racial difference that jumps out, rather a dreary sameness. The fact patterns that get people shot by the cops, whether they are white, black, or Hispanic, are largely the same.
There are the most extreme cases, when suspects engage in gun battles with cops. But pointing a gun, including a fake gun, at an officer also is likely to end badly. So is approaching a cop with a knife or even a metal pipe and refusing, despite repeated orders, to put it down. Resisting arrest is a common theme and, quite often, the people killed by the police were obviously mentally disturbed.
The Washington Post database suggests we have a violence problem in America and certainly a mental-health problem, but not — at least not on the face of it — a race problem.
George Floyd’s death is consistent with this view. Bill notes, per Andy McCarthy, that the prosecutors in the Derek Chauvin trial never even hinted that race was a factor in the encounter between Chauvin and Floyd.
Yet, the death of Floyd has prompted the Biden Justice Department to launch an investigation of “systemic racism” in the Minneapolis police department. Floyd’s encounter with Chauvin provides no basis for a claim of systemic racism in that police department, which is led by a black police chief, and I very much doubt that there is any other basis for the investigation.
Nor is the investigation at all innocuous. In fact, it’s very likely that the Department of Justice’s intervention in Minneapolis will cause more crime to be committed in that city, which suffered an increase of 21 percent in violent crime — homicides and assaults — last year. A study by Roland Fryer and Tanaya Devi found that investigations preceded by “viral incidents” (and Floyd’s death is the quintessential viral incident) have led to a statistically significant increase in homicides and total crime.
The authors state:
We estimate that these investigations caused almost 900 excess homicides and almost 34,000 excess felonies. The leading hypothesis for why these investigations increase homicides and total crime is an abrupt change in the quantity of policing activity.
In Chicago, the number of police-civilian interactions decreased by almost 90% in the month after the investigation was announced. In Riverside CA, interactions decreased 54%. In St. Louis, self-initiated police activities declined by 46%. Other theories we test such as changes in community trust or the aggressiveness of consent decrees associated with investigations — all contradict the data in important ways.
Blacks in Minneapolis want Justice Department involvement with policing in that city, but not the kind of involvement Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, and Vanita Gupta have in mind. Last year, the Washington Post (yes the Post) reported that residents of South Minneapolis called for a surge in the policing of their neighborhoods. The Post noted that violence in Minneapolis skyrocketed because police officers quit the department in droves after the death of Floyd.
This trend will only be accelerated by an investigation into “racism” in the department. Officers will continue to leave the department rather than have government investigators looking over their shoulders for evidence of their “racism.” And those who don’t leave will be sorely tempted to keep out of high crime neighborhoods where they are likely to experience challenging encounters with career criminals or addicts high on drugs (or, as in the case of George Floyd, both).
The Trump Justice Department offered genuine, meaningful assistance to the Minneapolis police department. The city’s black police chief was excited by the offer, but the city council balked.
The Biden Justice Department offers an investigation into “racism” that is virtually certain to further undercut police morale, result in less policing (contrary to the wishes of black residents), and produce more crime.
It’s almost as if black lives don’t matter to Team Biden.