Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Heather MacDonald titled “The Myth of Systemic Police Racism.” In the essay, MacDonald provides compelling empirical evidence to prove that blacks are not shot or killed by police at a level disproportionately higher than whites. She writes:
In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.
The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines “unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.
The essay made quite a splash and was making the rounds in conservative circles throughout the week. The eye-popping stat is at the beginning of the second paragraph: “The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019.” Only nine in an entire year. I’ve seen that stat recurring around social media to support the argument that there really are no racial disparities in policing. Nothing to see here move along. Continue Reading →