Some Lessons from a Washington Post Graphic on Police Shootings

Deaths from police shootings are too common but still rare, the majority of victims are white, and the Post wants to push a simple narrative about a complicated subject.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

It's no secret to readers of the Volokh Conspiracy, nor to readers of our host site Reason.com, that the American criminal justice is in dire need of reform. Police are generally unaccountable for misbehavior (which, among other things allows a small number of sociopaths to consistently engage in excessive force), militarization of local police forces creates opportunities for excessive use of force, no-knock raids create all sorts of problems leading to all sorts of abuses, the drug war has been a disaster for civil liberties, coercive tactics by prosecutors lead the innocent to plead guilty to "lesser charges" to avoid total ruin, and so on. Even in the absence of racism, these problems would fall more heavily on the poor and those living on the margins of society, a population that is disproportionately African American. The presence of racism makes matters worse for them.

All that said, we rely on the media to inform us about these issues, but instead we get a preconceived narrative, as illustrated by the graphic from the Washington Post, below. I take it that readers are supposed to look at this graphic, be outraged at the disparities, and then draw whatever conclusions may follow.

But, assuming these statistics are correct, we can in fact parse them in ways that make us think more deeply about what they mean and why they are presented this way.

First, note that over a five year period, 1,262 Blacks, 887 Hispanics, and 2412 Whites were shot to death by police. In aggregate, that's a lot of people, and we should hope (and perhaps demand) that cops can be trained to use non-lethal force more often in many situations in which they feel threatened. Police in other countries seem to manage it. On the other hand, I've heard a great deal of rhetoric over the past week to the effect that police officers are basically just looking for black men to hunt down, and that there is a decent chance that any encounter between the police and a black man will result in the black man's death. That is simply not borne out by the data (even if we note that some smaller number of deaths from police violence are not from shootings). Looking just at deadly shootings, black men get arrested two million times or so each year.  Many millions more times, police have other adversarial encounters with black men, such as traffic stops, or confrontations that don't lead to arrest. A tiny percentage of those encounters lead to deadly shootings, and in some fraction of those, the police use of force was justified by the threat faced by the officer. So the odds of an unjustified deadly shooting of a black man in a confrontation with police in any given instance is tiny.

Don't get me wrong. EVERY SINGLE unjustified police shooting is a horrible crime, which not only may steal the victim's life but tears at the fabric of society. But the notion that police are generally trigger happy and shooting to death anyone in sight, especially if he is black? The data don't support even a moderate version of that rhetoric.

I'm also not arguing that there is not a serious problem with routine excessive use of force by some police officers and perhaps some entire departments. But the data suggest that "police brutality" rarely takes the form of shooting to kill, and is much more likely to be "routine," non-deadly force.

Second, the number of whites shot and killed by police is surprisingly high, at least if one has assimilated the rhetoric out there. African Americans are getting shot disproportionately often compared to whites on a per capita basis, but if you look at arrest data, you see that African Americans are arrested for violent crime much more often per capita than whites. This creates more opportunities for confrontations between violent criminals and the police, and undoubtedly explains at least some of the disparity.

Even if there were no disparity once arrest rates were taken into account, that would not necessarily be evidence that racism does not cause fatal shootings. Just for example, African American deaths may be concentrated in big cities, where the police have better equipment and are better trained than in small rural sheriff's departments. Better training and equipment should lead to fewer shootings. African Americans may also be less confrontational with police as they are more likely to expect to be subject to violence if they don't cooperate, which should also lead to fewer shootings.

Regardless, what the data show is that to the extent the police are using excessive force in shootings, they are doing so against whites (and Hispanics) as well, so even if it's more of a problem for African Americans, it's not solely a problem for African Americans. Eliminating racism, in short, would still leave the U.S. with far more deaths from police shootings than seems reasonable.

Third (and this is what struck me the most), the Post could hardly be more transparent about the narrative it's trying to push. The graphic shows that blacks are shot to death by police more than Hispanics who are shot more than Whites who are shot much more often than… "other". Other is about 49 million people, which would include about 21 million Asian Americans, who likely have an even lower rate of being shot to death by police than the full "other" category. But if you are trying to frame the narrative as an uncomplicated "cops shoot people of color more than whites" you can't actually break out "Asians" because that undermines the narrative and means you have to dig a bit beyond the simple formula.

This reminds me of Justice Sotomayor's dissent in the BAMN case, in which she provided statistics purporting to show that affirmative action was needed to ensure educational attainment for "racial minorities," but she excluded Asian Americans (who can at least in some sense be considered a "racial minority") but included Hispanics, who can be of any race (and about half of whom consider themselves to be white). It's understandable if a story wants to highlight black-white differences, for obvious historical reasons. But whenever you see someone include Hispanics as a "minority" category, but exclude Asians, you know there is a political or ideological agenda behind it.

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  1. you know there is a political or ideological agenda behind it.

    Your posts here are entirely predictable. Why? Because every single one of them cherry pick data to support your political or ideological agenda.

    1. OK, smart guy, show what he cherry picked here.

      1. The WP graphic about police shooting blacks at a higher rate than whites.

        There are probably lots of graphics in the WP that can’t reasonably be maligned for telling half a story to slant the politics , that Bernstein doesn’t choose to mention.

        Probably. Well possibly anyhow. Or conceivably.

        1. You don’t understand cherry picking.

    2. So by pointing out how the Washington Post cherry-picks its data, Prof. Bernstein is cherry-picking data? Got it.

      1. It’s possible that OP was confused and thought they were commenting on the Washington Post article itself?

  2. The News Media Are Consistently Intentionally Deceptive: Part 8749717 of an Infinite Series

    Thankfully, no one really trusts them anymore. Even their own partisan comrades know they’re not getting straight facts.

    1. Stick with NewsMax, Fox News, Gateway Pundit, Fox Nation, Stormfront, FreeRepublic, RedState, and the Bible, Ben_ . . . those sources of news and facts suit you.

  3. S9me will no doubt argue that the statistics are skewed by disproportinate enforcement. The one statistic that cannot be readily skewed is murder, pretty much every dead body is accounted for.
    Around half of the murders in the US are of African Americans at least 80% of the perpetrators are also African American. That inevitably leads to the conclusion that in some portions of some African American communities murder is far more common than in other communities. Like many here I know many mostly professional African Americans and they are no more likely to commit any crime than I am. The solution to that puzzle is a serious issue.

    1. It’s a serious problem for the racists who like to claim racism, that’s for sure. I wonder how many of the murders are from the War on Drugs. Racism and classism could account for some of the murder rate, indirectly, if the War on Drugs is enforced unevenly. Suppose cops ignore drugs in affluent areas more than in poor areas; that would skew results. But no one wants to admit that the War on Drugs is bad policy, let alone might be racist.

      My hunch is that the War on Drugs is classist at least, which ends up being racist in current society because blacks are more likely urban and poor than whites. But I don’t know this.

      On the one hand, those statistics would be interesting. But on the other hand, the only way to really stop racism is to stop introducing race into so many things. Affirmative is a prime example; it forces people into blunt racial categories, and encourages corruption like Lizzie claiming to be Native American. On the whole, I’d rather the government simply dropped all racial categories, statistics, laws, everything. But that’s not likely. Too many politicians get elected by being offended.

      1. While I don’t doubt racisim exists and there are institutional effects of historic racism I do wonder whether racisim as reported in many instances would be assevere if factor such as income (which would I think increase African incidence), age of the mother (which may go either way) , education ( which I think would favor African Americans).
        In general I think most statiscs skim race without looking deeper.

        The rare more poor white people than poor African Americans.

        1. Racism exists and its a fundamental and perhaps an inalienable part of human nature. When you look at the face of modern Progressivism you’re not looking at a last gasp stand against racism but its ultimate triumph.

          1. Early in human evolution, racism was an important evolutionary asset because if you’re living in small, cohesive tribal units, being suspicious of outsiders is necessary to survive. That, however, is not the world we still live in — today, racism threatens human survival rather than enhances it — but the behavior persists because it became hard wired along the way.

            It’s similar to dietary habits. It makes sense to eat every carb and fat molecule that you can if you don’t know when you’ll eat again. Today, however, with a McDonalds on every corner, our biggest health concerns are obesity, diabetes and heart problems. Again, a behavior that made sense at one time in our evolutionary development is today a threat rather than an asset.

            So Amos, I actually agree with you that people may be hard wired to be racist. Just as they may be hard wired to engage in destructive dietary habits. The difference between you and me is that I recognize the behavior to be destructive and something that needs to be fought against, rather than something to be accepted if not celebrated. It would be nice if evolution kept pace with changing times, but it doesn’t.

            1. Maybe it’s borne out in other posts by Amos, but I see nothing in what you’re replying to that suggests he thinks racism should “be accepted if not celebrated”. He appears to be suggesting that Progressivism is racist.

              I doubt that suspicion of outsiders is something that will ever be evolved away. Even in a utopian future of olive skinned, post-resource-scarcity world where every human is an exact replica of the “most best progressive ever” androgynous first-couple, unless thought is centrally controlled by AI or hive-mind, there will be SOMETHING that will make citizen 9120123148912 different from citizen 1239896234547, and one will be better situated than the other in some fashion. There will always be something.

              Of course, humanity is also capable of critical thinking and higher learning, and being hard-wired for something doesn’t mean it has to drive us. Though, sometimes, discrimination can be useful as a rule, I can’t seem to think of any reason why skin color should be an appropriate category, other than as an indicator of risk factors for diseases that one may be more likely to have or not have dependent on their particular ancestry (which also, isn’t really directly related to skin color per se).

              As long as I can discriminate against people who make stupid posts on Reason.com… I’ll be happy.

              1. That should read:
                “Though, sometimes, discrimination can be useful[,] as a rule, I can’t seem to think of any reason why skin color should be an appropriate category, other than as an indicator of risk factors for diseases that one may be more likely to have or not have dependent on their particular ancestry (which also, isn’t really directly related to skin color per se).

              2. “Of course, humanity is also capable of critical thinking and higher learning,”

                Do you have any evidence to support this claim, as opposed to “some subsets of humanity is also capable of critical thinking and higher learning.”?

                WE are great and noble and brave, whereas THEY are lazy, immoral, and stupid.

              3. “As long as I can discriminate against people who make stupid posts on Reason.com… I’ll be happy.”

                so you’ll be happy as long as you can discriminate against yourself? Say, here’s some good news for you… you absolutely can!

            2. Early in human evolution, racism was an important evolutionary asset because if you’re living in small, cohesive tribal units, being suspicious of outsiders is necessary to survive.

              While suspicion of outsiders is very likely to be an evolutionary adaptation, it’s doubtful that anything like “racism” is. Simply because encountering people of an identifiably different “race” would have been quite rare. So “racism” is much more likely a mere application of evolved “suspicion of outsiders” than an evolutionary adaptation itself.

              Most outsider-bashing in evolutionary history would have been bashing of peope who were indistinguishable from the bashers, except perhaps for how they wore their beads.

              1. That’s probably true, but it’s also irrelevant to my larger point, which is that behavior that was advantageous at one time is destructive now. I would say that racism is the progeny of being suspicious of outsiders — if you’re suspicious of people who look like you but are of a different tribe, you’re really going to be suspicious of people of a different color skin when you encounter them. But the point still is, evolution may explain why we have racism; it does not justify racism as a continued belief system, especially given that in the meantime we’ve also evolved the ability to think and reason and see the flaws in racism.

                But going back to my food analogy, my ability to think and reason and recognize that a chocolate donut isn’t good for me doesn’t mean I’m not going to have one.

                1. You sound as if you are convinced that “suspicion of outsiders” has outlived its usefulness. I propose that you demonstrate your ability to argue both sides of a brief by identifying some of the continuing benefits of “suspicion of outsiders” in the modern world.

                  As a separate exercise feel free to argue the case for the benefits of chocoloate donuts.

                  1. ” I propose that you demonstrate your ability to argue both sides of a brief by identifying some of the continuing benefits of ‘suspicion of outsiders’ in the modern world.”

                    BURN the WITCHES!!! If we burn all the outsiders, we’ll probably get at least one witch, and that’s good enough.

    2. rsteinmetz, of course murder statistics can be skewed, two ways. First, you can systematically under-report murders which happen to have disproportionately black victims. For instance, nobody requires that killings by police, whether murders or otherwise, be collated anywhere. The Guardian>/i> has asserted that Florida has gone for years without reporting any killings by police to the FBI—which is a customary source for murder statistics. If that is true, then if you rely on the FBI for statistics on people killed by police, you get skewed statistics.

      Second, of course, is the more consequential skew-related question. That someone dies may be notable, and may get noticed fairly reliably, but how that death gets labeled—whether it is murder or not—is the contested question at the heart of the controversy over racially-motivated police killings. Your question-begging technique seems to center around a subject change—instead of confronting straight on the question of whether police murder blacks and get away with it, you cite irrelevant statistics about black criminal statistics in which police do not do the killing.

      Also, you offer this:

      That inevitably leads to the conclusion that in some portions of some African American communities murder is far more common than in other communities.

      Change “African American” to anything you please, and you still get an empty truism.

      1. Here it is again, without the formatting error.

        rsteinmetz, of course murder statistics can be skewed, two ways. First, you can systematically under-report murders which happen to have disproportionately black victims. For instance, nobody requires that killings by police, whether murders or otherwise, be collated anywhere. The Guardian has asserted that Florida has gone for years without reporting any killings by police to the FBI—which is a customary source for murder statistics. If that is true, then if you rely on the FBI for statistics on people killed by police, you get skewed statistics.

        Second, of course, is the more consequential skew-related question. That someone dies may be notable, and may get noticed fairly reliably, but how that death gets labeled—whether it is murder or not—is the contested question at the heart of the controversy over racially-motivated police killings. Your question-begging technique seems to center around a subject change—instead of confronting straight on the question of whether police murder blacks and get away with it, you cite irrelevant statistics about black criminal statistics in which police do not do the killing.

        Also, you offer this:

        That inevitably leads to the conclusion that in some portions of some African American communities murder is far more common than in other communities.

        Change “African American” to anything you please, and you still get an empty truism.

        1. So just add in the cop killings to the murder statistics. In 2019 WaPo says that’s around 250 black people. Assume all were murders—no justifiable homicides—and none of them was counted as a murder (which isn’t the case but whatever). Compared to ~7,500 homicides of blacks in 2019. That’s a 3% increase. Not trivial, but hardly systematic undercounting.

          Whatever you think, criminality is germane to the question of “disproportionate” killing. I never see articles lamenting the systematic hunting down of men, rather than women, by police. Even though men make up around 50% of the population but a staggering 90-95% of police shooting victims. Because men commit more crimes that put them in confrontations with police.

    3. Well, you can play with the numbers in a lot of ways… most of them involving lying with statistics.

      White were arrested about 7.1 million times, blacks 2.8 million in the same period, so whites were shot about 34 times per 100K arrests while blacks were shot about 45 times per 100K arrests. Assuming similar crimes (and I’m sure as heck not digging deeper than this) that looks like racial bias.

      But… since there are about 194 million “whites” and 42 million “blacks” in the US, that means about 36 white arrests happen per 1000 population and 67 black arrests per 1000 population, a ratio of almost double (1.86). Meanwhile, the ratio of blacks SHOT per arrest is only 1.32 times the ratio of whites shot per arrest.

      Does that imply that the police are shooting blacks only 70% as often as we would expect based on the arrest rate? Is that police restraint in shooting the blacks they’re already arresting at a higher rate?

      Nah, that silly. But if you have enough numbers, you can play all day with them. None of that analysis will cut to the underlying issues that the U.S. is a very violent place compared to some others and that the U.S. is still experiencing the echos of the institutionalized racism created by chattel slavery. However much the position of blacks has improved in the U.S. over the past century, those echos continue. To the extent that the “racial” differences are really differences of class doesn’t solve the problem that “lower class” citizens tend to have an abundance of melanin. I hope and pray that the next century continues the progress against that at a higher rate.

      I know that as an old, midwestern, white guy I play the game of life in easy mode in many ways. That doesn’t mean I can’t condemn the actions of assholes when I see them. I try to do that.

  4. Most people live more or less in a fantasy world constructed by the media. In this world people can switch their sexes by wishing on a magic star and rather than the simplest explanation that certain races may commit more crimes for whatever reason, anything that runs counter to equalist dogma is the result of a global conspiracy.

    For example I’ve yet to see anything indicating the George Floyd incident had any racial element at all other than the officer was ‘white’ and the perp was black but everybody is running around acting as if its obviously and indisputably so.

    WAPOO and that graphic are but one pane in the delusion. It takes a relatively rare presence of mind to see the illusion for what it is. Many ‘smart’ people of high technical skill are especially vulnerable and even the weavers often doublethink themselves into believing it as well as they knowingly create false or misleading information.

    1. The view from your cornhole isn’t representative of reality.

    2. “Most people live more or less in a fantasy world constructed by the media.”

      Please go on to demonstrate the fantasy world you live in.

      ” In this world people can switch their sexes by wishing on a magic star and rather than the simplest explanation that certain races may commit more crimes for whatever reason, anything that runs counter to equalist dogma is the result of a global conspiracy.”

      I don’t want to live in the fantasy world you’ve chosen.

  5. . . . but if you look at arrest data, you see that African Americans are arrested for violent crime much more often per capita than whites. This creates more opportunities for confrontations between violent criminals and the police, and undoubtedly explains at least some of the disparity.

    That means, tacitly, that Bernstein thinks violent crime among African Americans is an independent variable, in which police officers play no part, until the dispassionate responses of police and prosecutors can register the data. Could it be that police might charge at discretion that officers have been victims of assault while conducting arrests? Could it be that prosecutors might pile on additional charges, and not necessarily without regard to race. Might police and prosecutors give a pass to whites involved in inconsequential brawls with other whites, while treating blacks involved in brawls with whites more stringently?

    The list of possibilities for statistical corruption based on racially influenced enforcement decisions is endless. Good analysis, of course, has to include consideration of whether that happens. Bernstein begs that question. Some commenters here cheer him on, apparently because they like assertions that blacks are less targeted racially than blacks themselves suppose.

    The inescapable first question is what kind of system is recording the statistics. If it were a racist system, then anyone might expect racially skewed statistics. Blacks think they encounter pervasive racism. Bernstein—apparently unreflectively—reasons as if black perceptions are mistaken, as he does in this critique of the graphic.

    Please, Bernstein, show your work. If you undertake to contradict the first-hand experience of American blacks in such sweeping fashion, show what analysis supports that contradiction. You seem unaware that in commentary of this sort, you take on the task of analyzing racial bias in law enforcement from top to bottom—a daunting task—but of course do not do that. Then you announce conclusions at variance with the experience of black people far better qualified to judge by experience than you are. Your conclusions are no better analyzed than theirs, but less informed.

    1. All the major data trends show that African Americans as defined in most studies commit crimes at a higher rate than other groups. (that doesn’t mean this has to always be so or Africans are inherently evil of course) The only thing people can really think of to counter this is after decades and billions of dollars is to assume there is some conspiracy or extra bias in the data and go on a fishing expedition to try to find it.

      Thats pretty much the entire data bias industry. A Tail wagging the dog.

      If you have any major evidence that comes out naturally rather than manufactured from the assumption of an evil global white supremacist conspiracy share it with us right now.

      1. Amos, the subject is unjustified police killings of blacks. If you change the subject, to talk instead about how violent blacks are, folks will be justifiably concerned about racist motives.

        At least in principle, you could stick to the subject, and offer an argument to show police killings of blacks are not fairly characterized in terms of the recorded cases which seem to crop up so often, and which look so incriminating when shown on television. But perhaps wisely, you are not trying to do that. Perhaps unwisely, you are changing the subject.

        As for evidence of a white supremacist conspiracy, American history speaks for itself. It is wrong, and too simplistic, to suppose American history amounts only to a white supremacist conspiracy, as too many people have done. It is more culpably wrong to deny that American history encompasses an enduring and gigantic white supremacist conspiracy among its principal features.

        Offering you evidence seems futile. In the current instance, you have been offered irrefutable evidence—a video of a cop, while in the midst of a crowd, with an obvious expectation of impunity, murdering a black person—while being assisted by other cops treating the whole situation as normal.

        Little else except institutionalized white supremacist conspiracy can explain that. You responded by changing the subject.

        1. “Little else except institutionalized white supremacist conspiracy can explain that.”

          Maybe the “expectation of impunity” to which you referred, and which seems to have been at work in the killing of the white couple in Houston, etc.

        2. In the current instance, you have been offered irrefutable evidence—a video of a cop, while in the midst of a crowd, with an obvious expectation of impunity, murdering a black person—while being assisted by other cops treating the whole situation as normal.
          >>>>>>>>>>>>>
          I’m unaware of any evidence there was any racial element to this other than the officer happened to be ‘white’ and Floyd happened to be black and everybody in the world just took things from there. I’m not denying something might be out there that I missed or may eventually come out but can you tell me what you are basing your theory that this was a racist attack on?

          1. What you need to understand is that “Racism” is a convenient mental excuse for people like Lathrop, who would rather not think about the real major concern that require complicated answers.

            A combination of liberal policies effectively keep African Americans poor. One of the major ones is the emphasis on marriage. Marriage is a critical aspect to raising children in a safe, supportive environment, and should be heavily emphasized. The studies here are overwhelmingly clear…children raised on two parent households do far better than children raised in single parent households. By emphasizing the lack of importance (while simultaneously practicing marriage themselves for their own kids), the liberal elite effectively suppress future generations of poor minorities.

            1. Armchair Lawyer, you would have a far more persuasive argument if not for the fact that Black poverty (in part caused by racism) pre-dates liberal policies by centuries. What liberal policies kept Blacks poor during Jim Crow?

              1. You’re arguing what is effectively ancient history, rather than the last 60 years. Racial groups can and have overcome historic racism in today’s society. The clearest example here are Asian Americans, who historically faced racism…yet today make more on average than the “white” Americans who discriminated against them.

                It’s time to look beyond the “racism” excuse and to the real issues and problems. By continuing to emphasize “racism” as a major issue, to the exclusion of real conversations and solutions about critical matters, you in effect condemn African Americans. Because you can’t solve the real issues and problems, if everything is racism to you.

                1. You know, you still haven’t answered a question I’ve asked you about four times now: Do you think racism plays any role in the “real issues and problems”? Even if you don’t think it’s the primary or dominant cause, do you think it’s even part of the problem?

                  1. That depends on what you mean by racism.

                    If you’re talking about the belief in racial superiority of a select ethnic group of people, that has no real effect, and is only maintained by a very small subsect of people.

                    If you talking about discrimination and prejudice based on race, that has an effect. What’s critical to understand are the many ways it operates however. It’s not just “white-on-black” discrimination, but also black-on-white discrimation. It is government mandated discrimination and benefits for people of a certain race. It is Black-Hispanic, Hispanic-Black, Black-Asian, and Asian-Black discrimination. It is a multitude of all of these. It is Joe Biden saying “If you don’t vote for me, you aren’t black”. That is a form of racial prejudice. And these all have an effect.

                    What’s critical here, is only one subsect is of all these emphasized, and overemphasized to the detriment of society as a whole. The true way to get rid of racial discrimination is to treat people equally, no matter their race. Not to give certain benefits to one race. Not to “expect” people of a certain race to vote for you BECAUSE of their skin color. That is racial prejudice (and is more important than you may think).

                    Does that answer your question?

                    1. You are correct that whites do not have the monopoly on racial prejudice. However, whites continue to hold most of the political, economic and social power, so it’s more deadly when whites do it. So a focus on white racism is nothing more than an attempt to stop the bleeding where most of the bleeding is occurring.

                      And that’s why “just treat everyone equally” is willful blindness to the actual dynamics on the ground. If I show up in the emergency room with both a heart attack and a skin rash, and the doctor views each of them as being of equal seriousness, well, I probably should have another doctor. It’s not that the skin rash isn’t a problem; it’s that it is far less serious than stabilizing my heartbeat.

                      So yeah, what Joe Biden said was pretty stupid, and he probably realized it was pretty stupid as soon as it came out of his mouth. And yes, I have occasionally encountered black people who didn’t like me because I’m white. But compared to the genuine problems faced by black people because of the lingering effects of white racism, well, it’s the tail wagging the dog.

                    2. All you appear to see is white-on-black racism, and it’s somehow the cause for every problem. You’ve been beating the same nail for 50 years, without any results, despite other metrics (like relative voting rates) equalizing.

                      The fact you can’t see other differences, and keep beating the same nail, regardless, condemns the minority population.

                    3. No, white on black racism isn’t the cause of every problem. Just the ones caused by white on black racism.

                    4. There are a number of problems which afflict darker-skinned people in the United States. Your “white on black” racism makes every one of them worse.

                      Now, some poor white folk have the same problems as poor black folk, because the problems come from being poor, and not from skin coloring. Racial discrimination doesn’t affect them the same way, however, whether it is “white-on-black” or “black-on-white”.

                      Racial discrimination is lazy thinking. You could make the effort to learn each individual person’s skills and abilities, but since that’s hard, why not just infer a bunch of information about them from the degree to which light reflects off their outer covering. The same method works on books.

              2. “Black poverty (in part caused by racism) pre-dates liberal policies by centuries. What liberal policies kept Blacks poor during Jim Crow?”

                Centuries? What Centuries? The Civil war was only 160 years ago.

                Jim Crow was enacted by Democrats.

                1. And if those Democrats who enacted Jim Crow came back from the dead, today they would all be voting Republican. If I recall correctly, the first black slave ship brought slaves to the new world in the 1600s so yes, centuries.

              3. Black poverty was dropping in the 50 years prior to the Great Society, the Drug War, and Qualified Immunity.

            2. Correlative studies of outcomes for children in two parent households versus broken homes don’t prove causation. They could be revealing a common cause; the same poverty or drug use or abuse by the parents that led to the divorce, contributes (predictably) to negative life outcomes for the children.

              What liberal policies de emphasizing marriage are you talking about?

              1. Correlative studies are the only ethical studies that can be done here. However, the factors that you suggest (poverty, etc) are real, and the proper result is to control and adjust for them. Which has been done, and there is STILL a substantial effect. https://www.bbc.com/news/education-47057787

                1. There’s no way for me to evaluate “a substantial effect” based on the BBC article. All it says is that Professor McLanahan said “even allowing for economic disadvantage” the data showed an “impact of instability on a child’s life”. But when you click on the link for “Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study” it doesn’t take you to a study, but to a confusing website where I couldn’t find the source for the article. The article was written in 2019, but the link takes you to things published last month. If you have the original study they are discussing, I’ll put eyes on it.

                  In any event, the same article references a 2000 study (“Millennium Cohort Study”) that purports to show (I had the same difficulty finding the actual study, though admittedly I did not spend much time on it) “little difference between married and cohabiting parents”.

                  Now, it’s hardly surprising that a kid with one parent has worse outcomes than two, if for no other reason than a paucity of resources. That paucity is curable without adding a cohabiting parent to the mix. You’d want to compare single-parent households with resources of X to dual-family households with resources of X-Y (where Y is accounting for the inherent time deficiency of the single-parent, relative to the dual-parent household).

                  There are countless confounding factors as well that I can’t tell if the study corrects for. It is not just “economic disadvantage” but support from non-nuclear family, social services, geographic isolation, length of commute for parent, and so on that could explain differences in outcomes. Abusive parents probably don’t report the abuse to the studiers, though ostensibly that has something to do with life outcomes, to.

                  1. AL, and NtoJ, I don’t doubt that single parent households and poverty are both bad for children (or at least not as good for children as economic security and two parent households). But the massive leap in logic AL makes is that liberal policies are to blame for either.

                    Yes, welfare provides one less disincentive to teenage pregnancy than would exist otherwise, but the alternative is for the children of teenage mothers to go hungry. So the calculation that liberals have made is that feeding the children of pregnant teenagers is preferable to having them not be fed, which used to be the case, even if that means there will be more of them. It’s not that liberals created the bad situation; it’s that liberals have chosen what appears to us to be the lesser of two evils in responding to it.

                    That plus, as I pointed out earlier, most of these social problems predate liberal programs. If you think there were no teen pregnancies in the days of Charles Dickens, you are sadly misinformed. If you think there weren’t fathers who abandoned their families long before liberal policies came along, think again. And if you think black poverty is a new thing that only came about after liberal policies started passing, then you have no idea what Mississippi was like in the 1950s — no liberal policies but plenty of black poverty. So when the same problems happen both before and after liberal policies began to be enacted, it seems a stretch to claim liberal policies are to blame.

                    1. Re: welfare, AL may have had something else in mind so he can speak for himself. Teen birthrates peaked in 1991 (half a decade before welfare reform) and have been coming down ever since. For black teens they were ~ 117 (per 1,000) in 1991, had already fallen to ~ 90 in 1996, and steadily dropped until 2005 (~ 60), went up slightly for the next few years, then again continued a trend down (~ 27 in 2017). It’s possible that welfare has slowed the decrease, but there’s no liberal policy that is causing high and escalating rates of teen pregnancy.

                      That isn’t to say policy is irrelevant. Abstinence-only sex education is not as effective at curbing teen pregnancy as alternatives that also promote other forms of birth control.

                    2. ” If you think there were no teen pregnancies in the days of Charles Dickens, you are sadly misinformed.”
                      The teen mothers were more likely to be married, because back then it was more acceptable for 20-something menfolk to be looking for brides amongst the teenage girls. Getting one knocked up was one way to get her to accept your marriage proposal.

                  2. NTOJ : In any event, the same article references a 2000 study (“Millennium Cohort Study”) that purports to show (I had the same difficulty finding the actual study, though admittedly I did not spend much time on it) “little difference between married and cohabiting parents”.

                    IIRC the main disadvantage for children of a co-habiting couple as against a married couple is that the co-habiting couple has a greater statistical probability of breaking up. Consequently the rough equivalence of outcomes for children of married and co-habiting couples holds for marriages / co-habitations that persist for similar lengths of time. But if you want to predict outcomes for children currently raised by married / co-habiting couples, you want to bet against the children of co-habiting couples, since the prediction must take into account differential fissiparousness.

                    Now, it’s hardly surprising that a kid with one parent has worse outcomes than two, if for no other reason than a paucity of resources. That paucity is curable without adding a cohabiting parent to the mix. You’d want to compare single-parent households with resources of X to dual-family households with resources of X-Y (where Y is accounting for the inherent time deficiency of the single-parent, relative to the dual-parent household).

                    The calculation of Y is not going to be easy though. Indeed the only practical way of estimating it is to do the experiment in reverse – ie take equally achieving children of single parents and children of co-habiting couples, and see what income advantage the single parent needs to arrive at similar child-outcomes to the poorer co-habitors.

                    1. Re: breaking up, I’ve not seen studies supporting it but I have no reason to doubt your recollection. It’s certainly intuitive. I’m not sure I follow the conclusion entirely, though. It can be the case that statistically children whose parents don’t break up do better than children whose parents do break up, but also the case that some children whose parents hate each other, would be better off if the parents split up. The macro policy may be to encourage people to stay together, but the micro solution in many instances is break ups. If marriage keeps people in an unhealthy relationship that they wouldn’t otherwise be in, I’m not sure the kid is going to be better off. But even if they were, there are other people’s interests, too. I don’t think unhappy people should stay unhappy together just to decrease the likelihood of their child becoming depressed from 24% to 20%, if it increases the likelihood of the parents’ depression (and general misery) from low to certainty. Also, it’s not obvious to me that people who elect to co-habitate rather than get married, would be more likely to stay together if they just got married. Maybe the divorced people are the ones who were inclined to co-habitate in the first place, but in a moment of weakness got married. If true, any policy of inducing co-habitators to marry, may not actually decrease fissiparousness overall, because the divorce rate by married people will go up.

                    2. NTOJ : Also, it’s not obvious to me that people who elect to co-habitate rather than get married, would be more likely to stay together if they just got married.

                      Indeed, I seem to recall that very point being made in the study, ie that marriage may perhaps be no more than a signal of a higher pre-existing level of commitment to the relationship, hence the statistically longer lasting relationship and the marriage, are both consequences of the stronger commitment.

                      On the other hand, I have also seen it argued that the public commitment involved in marriage, including the publicly expressed mutual promises, do have a causative effect in increasing commitment to the relationship – on the weightwatchers principle.

                    3. “NTOJ : Also, it’s not obvious to me that people who elect to co-habitate rather than get married, would be more likely to stay together if they just got married. ”

                      I can only offer anecdotal evidence on this one. I cohabitated with my exwife before we got married. We didn’t get divorced until afterwards, though.

            3. ” Marriage is a critical aspect to raising children in a safe, supportive environment, and should be heavily emphasized.”

              No it isn’t. Having a safe, supportive environment is THE critical aspect to raising children in a safe, supportive environment. Having a safe, supportive environment is also a critical aspect for having a successful marriage. You’ve got cause and effect backwards. (Why, yes, now that you mention it, I DID do a better job of raising a child than I did of staying married to the other genetic contributor.)

      2. “All the major data trends show that African Americans as defined in most studies commit crimes at a higher rate than other groups.”

        This can be interpreted as A) the black folks don’t like to follow the law or B) the white folks wrote the laws to limit the black folks, and they did a good job.

        If you write a law that says owning jackboots and invading Belgium and Poland are criminal offenses, then Germans will be found to violate more laws than other groups.

    2. “Then you announce conclusions at variance with the experience of black people far better qualified to judge by experience than you are.”

      Black people didn’t experience the various cases Reason has covered of white people being killed by police in dubious circumstances. White Australian killed after reporting a crime, white homeless guy killed in CA, white couple killed in Houston drug raid based on fraudulently-procured warrant – all people who would have their names on the signs held up by protesters if only they’d been black.

      I wouldn’t put it past some rogue cops to be racist toward black people. But white suspects shouldn’t think they can coast on their white privilege and avoid abuse.

      So the *Post* is the one which has to explain why their raw and non-contextualized statistics have a racist explanation.

    3. Luckily there ARE studies about this.

      Here’s a nice study that looks at police shootings and race. Turns out…it’s linked to the crime rate. And if anything, it shows an anti-white bias in people shot by police.

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6689929/

      Here’s the relevant outtake.
      “Concerns that White officers might disproportionately fatally shoot racial minorities can have powerful effects on police legitimacy (31). By using a comprehensive database of FOIS during 2015, officer race, sex, or experience did not predict the race of a person fatally shot beyond relationships explained by county demographics. On the other hand, race-specific violent crime strongly predicted the race of a civilian fatally shot by police, explaining over 40% of the variance in civilian race. These results bolster claims to take into account violent crime rates when examining fatal police shootings (20). We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime. While racial disparity did vary by type of shooting, no one type of shooting showed significant anti-Black or -Hispanic disparity. ”

      More statistics on murder and murder victim rates by race…

      “According to the US Department of Justice, African Americans accounted for 52.5% of all homicide offenders from 1980 to 2008, with Whites 45.3% and “Other” 2.2%. The offending rate for African Americans was almost 8 times higher than Whites, and the victim rate 6 times higher. Most homicides were intraracial, with 84% of White victims killed by Whites, and 93% of African American victims were killed by African Americans. In 2013, African Americans accounted for 52.2% of all murder arrests, with Whites 45.3% and Asians/Native Americans 2.5%. Of the above, 21.7% were Hispanic. Blacks account for the majority of gun homicide victims/arrestees in the US while Whites account for the vast majority of non-gun homicide victims/arrestees. Of the gun murder victims in the United States between 2007–2016, 57% were black, 40.6% white (including Hispanic), 1.35% Asian, 0.98% unknown race and 0.48% Native American.”

      1. I’ve been schlepping down to my hospital’s emergency room for the past 24 years to assess and treat gun shot wound victims.
        Lots of AA youths and young adults. Story from EMS crew typically either a drive by, or an abandoned residence location.
        Never in 24 years has any of these victims of violence been at the hands of police.
        Poor on poor crime, black on black crime, seems to be the thing of which we must not speak; this is the inconvenient truth of the trail of dead black bodies.
        And for every dead one, we have 5 or more wounded ones that we patch up and send back to whatever it was they were doing previously.
        When the rare outsider violence occurs, by a police officer, it is only then that communities of poverty or color vocally attempt to redirect the narrative away from who is doing 99% of the killing.

        1. We will drive out of the career any bright, sane, educated candidates for urban police officer if we continue to broad brush law enforcement and ignore the true threat to “black lives”. In light of the dangers and atmosphere existing today, anyone that will take this job will be anything less than the “finest” and in turn, more incidents like the Floyd death are inevitable.

          1. Intelligence is already a disqualifier for police work.

  6. I wish a law professor at an esteemed law school would talk about law and not statistics.

    1. I know, I know…I hate the statistical discussions. Mostly because the details really matter and WaPo (and others, to be fair) don’t show the assumptions and caveats that underlie the data. When it comes to stats, most don’t know their derrier from a hole in the ground.

      There IS something to this, but the explanation is a hell of a lot more nuanced than what WaPo portrays.

      The data also completely ignores the millions upon millions of interactions between police and citizenry that are unremarkable.

      1. “There IS something to this, but the explanation is a hell of a lot more nuanced than what WaPo and Prof. Bernstein portrays.”

        FTFY.

    2. Seriously. I remember how poorly statistics was taught in evidence class. The others like me with science degrees who took advanced stats rolled our eyes.

      It seems Bernstein either lacks the scientific knowledge to understand WP’s point about the PER CAPITA RATE of shooting, or intentionally overlooks this to talk about the overall numbers. Given that whites make up the majority of the country (see the chart’s X axis, IE the bottom of the chart for those with no scientific education), there is a disproportionate amount of shootings of black people. That’s very clear, and WP is up front about their data analysis.

      I practice civil rights law and have not received a phone call from a white person with a legitimate civil rights claim for police brutality. Also, not the subject of this article but worth pointing out, the people shot by cops of any race are disproportionately mentally ill as well. Cops do not deal with mental illness appropriately either.

      1. It seems Bernstein either lacks the scientific knowledge to understand WP’s point about the PER CAPITA RATE of shooting, or intentionally overlooks this to talk about the overall numbers.

        As a finely tuned, science degree holding, statistics geek, if Bernstein has missed the distinction between per capita rates and overall numbers, what construction do you put on this part of his piece ?

        African Americans are getting shot disproportionately often compared to whites on a per capita basis

        and for a bonus mark you could offer your statistical view of his continuation :

        but if you look at arrest data, you see that African Americans are arrested for violent crime much more often per capita than whites. This creates more opportunities for confrontations between violent criminals and the police, and undoubtedly explains at least some of the disparity.

      2. I’d be interested to see you answer Lee Moore. In the meantime…

        “I practice civil rights law and have not received a phone call from a white person with a legitimate civil rights claim for police brutality.”

        Do you mean here that you’ve never received a call from a white person with a civil rights claim for police brutality at all, or that you’ve received calls from white people complaining about police brutality, but you concluded that their claims were not “legitimate”?

        If the latter, how many calls did you receive? And in which state are you licensed to practice law?

      3. I don’t think you properly read what he wrote. He notes the per capita disparity and says that at least some of it might be explained by the disparate rates of crime and particularly violent crime perpetrated by race. I took that to be an argument that “per capita” data alone is not the correct measure to be using, and in fact it could be misleading. In order to invoke “racism” as an indicated cause, you would need to control for the number of interactions, and particularly for the number of inherently violent interactions, as when carrying out an arrest on a resisting violent felon. (for instance, FBI statistics show that more murderers are black than white – in actual numbers, not simply per capita)

        Controlling for all of that would be quite difficult. But his point is that in making certain choices about which version of the data to present, people are making a political choice.

        I practice civil rights law and have not received a phone call from a white person with a legitimate civil rights claim for police brutality.

        What a bizarre thing to write in a post about how you understand statistics so much better than other lawyers. That’s pretty much exactly the opposite of what someone who understands statistics at a higher level would write. Talk to Kelly Thomas about your personal experience with civil rights. Well, bad example. He’s dead. Maybe chose Daniel Shaver instead.. or not. But those are just anecdotes… as is your “personal experience”. When the numbers you are talking about show that twice as many white people are killed by police as black people, insinuating that police never violate white people’s civil rights is kinda silly.

        Your point about mental illness is excellent though. A great many of the shocking killings by police involve someone – often a family member – calling for help with a mentally ill person. Then we get to watch the ill-trained police attempt to use ‘command voice’ and escalating levels of threats and eventually violence to deal with someone having serious mental problems. Well, that ends predictably badly.

      4. Was it taught poorly, or did you just fail to learn. Your suggestion that total population percentage should be the baseline comparison strongly suggests the latter.

      5. “Cops do not deal with mental illness appropriately either.”

        Lump intoxication in with mental illness to be even more accurately, but then go back and ask, “Why do we call the cops to deal with the mentally ill?” It’s not their job but if not them, who can you send? The fire brigade? The dogcatcher?

    3. “I wish a law professor at an esteemed law school would talk about law and not statistics.”

      But lawyers are KNOWN for their math skills…

  7. Amazing this is the same guy who is also going full-court press against affirmative action as well!

    1. If he’s against affirmative action, the least he can do is compensate by buying into uncontextualized newspaper statistics.

  8. So Bernstein is borrowing from Holocaust deniers by interpreting evidence to argue that, nah, the actual experiences of a specific group of people suffering state persecution are seriously overblown. Any reports of irony’s death are greatly exaggerated.

    1. Or maybe he’s drawn to Fogel & Engerman’s infamous *Time on the Cross*, which used statistical data to argue that slavery was both economically viable and not really *that bad* for African Americans. If slaves were whipped only 4.27 times per year, well, it’s not as egregious as it’s made out to be, y’know?

    2. “I prefer subjective impressions that fit my my political predispositions over examining and interpreting actual data.” Well, you be you then.

      1. Yes, interpretations of statistical data are always objective, Mr. Spock. Indeed, you keep being you and preach to your choir.

        1. So tell us what you think he got wrong with his analysis of the statistical data?

  9. As you mention but then analytically ignore: “shootings” are not the only kind of violence by police against innocents. This incident in the news itself DOES NOT INVOLVE A SHOOTING.

    In fact, not all incidents even involve death. Most do not.

    The fatal shootings MAY track these other kinds of incidents or may not.

    1. The Post graphic, however, is about fatal police shootings. And it’s odd to say I ignore other forms of police violence, when I wrote, “I’m also not arguing that there is not a serious problem with routine excessive use of force by some police officers and perhaps some entire departments. But the data suggest that “police brutality” rarely takes the form of shooting to kill, and is much more likely to be “routine,” non-deadly force.”

      1. Professor Bernstein…Off topic. I have enjoyed your posts over at ToI. I read ToI daily, and make it a point to look for a post from you.

  10. The Post plays such tricks all the time.

    They have a database of homicides in the D.C. metro area, and it used to contain the race of the victim. After 2018, for some reason, that went away.

    Stories that don’t fit their narrative, usually copied from AP, may appear, but you can only find them by doing a word search.

    They have stopped allowing comments on stories about local homicides or crimes. Apparently, too many people were pointing out the demographics of the perps.

  11. Some here advocate using a single incident to define the entire problem. That’s always the proper response.
    But if that’s a great intellectual exercise.
    Why don’t we address the real problem/
    Unions.

    I see two institutions that have fallen greatly in efficacy, and mission.
    Education and Policing
    Unions are the single impediment to address the failings that all agree exist

    Unions protecting the small percentage of individuals, that make up a huge portion of the defined problem

  12. Per this article, black cops are as likely to kill blacks as white cops.

    https://psmag.com/social-justice/black-cops-are-just-as-likely-as-whites-to-kill-black-suspects

    1. Good point.

    2. However this does not acquit white cops of racism, since we cannot assume that black cops are less racist (in their opinions of black folk) than white cops.

      I remember, long long ago, during my first visit to New York, hailing a cab in Brooklyn. (I had gone for a walk and got lost.) I got in and gave directions to the (black) driver.

      There was a thick glass screen between me and the driver which I assumed was for his protection, but he wound it down and started chattering. I asked him – isn’t that screen supposed to be there to protect you from your passengers ? How do you know I’m not going to attack you ?

      The guy nearly peeed himself laughing. “You’re white !” He laughed so long and hard that I feared for my own safety as he kept on turning round showing his amused delight, rather than watching the road.

    3. Black cops routinely fail the implicit association test for race discrimination as well. That’s a study that shows whether someone associates “bad” terms with darker skinned people. Psychological studies show all cops are predisposed to pull the trigger at minorities. It’s a result of structural racism and is a problem regardless of whether a particular cop harbors actual racist intentions.

      1. This is one of the most relevant things in this whole discussion. It doesn’t have to be true that any officer is a white supremacist if nearly all officers are subconsciously associating darker skin with “more likely to be criminal/bad/whatever”. And, there’s a whole lot of variables within this topic that could be discussed, at least, if the vocal minority wouldn’t immediately screech about racism, and instead would use evidence to discredit, or attempt to discredit, conclusions that they don’t like.

      2. Holy shit, somebody is actually trying to cite implicit bias tests as anything other than an example of scientific malpractice.

        To give you a quick education, implicit bias tests are not capable of producing consistent results. Meaning that if the same person takes one over and over again, you don’t get consistent results. You don’t even get a trend towards one result – instead you get randomness.
        That means the tests are useless. Even the creators of the IAT acknowledge this: “attempts to diagnostically use such measures for individuals risk undesirably high rates of erroneous classifications.”

        That also ignores cultural issues, the reaction time problem, or critical issues like the fact that when the creators administered the IAT to children, they found that kids as young as 1 year old tested positive for racism. That’s right, they claimed that kids without object permanence somehow had developed an abstract concept of race relations.

        But now that you know, I’m sure you will never deny science by citing garbage like the IAT again, right?

        1. IAT is a current area of active study, Toranth. I don’t think they’re ready for prime time policymaking, but your dismissal seems based on some old research.

          A test that cannot be readministered is not automatically useless, or else PNAMBC tests would not be a thing.

          1. What is a PNAMBC test ?

            1. Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain. It’s the common tactic of deceiving those being tested. Telling people the test is about one thing when it’s really about another, or that another person is a fellow test taker when they’re really a confederate of the testers.

              1. 1. Thank you. I was able to look up the acronym but was unable to make a connection with testing.
                2. And I am still not entirely on board with the connection with non readministrability. I can certainly conceive of tests involving deceit which cannot be readministered because the test reveals the deceit. But other deceitful tests will not reveal the deceit, and so will be readministrable.
                3. The connection with readministrability seems therefore to be to do with whether the test changes the subject, rather than whether the subject is deceived
                4. There are all sorts of tests which change the item tested – eg testing to destruction – and they are considered to be useful because the test can be readministered to a different but similar item.
                5. So can you offer an illustration of a PNAMBC test which is neither readministrable to the same subject, or to a similar subject, and yet which yields useful information, beyond the anecdotal level ?

          2. IATs are more than 20 years old, and in all that time they have not improved. In fact, the opposite has happened: the arguments supporting them have been shown to be wrong, or to have effects so small as to be insignificant.

            And true; there are tests that are meaningful but cannot be administered. But the IAT is not one of those tests – they purport to measure an existing tendency over the conscious knowledge of the subject. If they converged to a value – say that repeated tests always tended to “not racist” as a subject learned to game the test – then it would show that there was potential for subject knowledge to influence the outcome. But that doesn’t happen. Repeated tests still produce nearly random results. We’re talking about a pro-IAT paper reporting an r2 of .14!

            For something that claims to represent a measure of an individual’s bias, that is nowhere near useful – even in psychology.

      3. The real problem is that once Mr. Cop associates someone as “criminal” or “likely criminal”, they stay in that category forever. This is true regardless of the race(s) of the people involved. Once you’ve been categorized as “bad guy”, you’re going to be treated as a “bad guy” until you die. And it isn’t just cops who do this, it’s a problem in the schools as well. It becomes self-fulfilling prophecy.

    4. It’s terrible how racism is so bad in this country that even the black cops are racist.

      1. Indeed.

  13. if course I recognize that you also point out the concentration of blacks in cities etc. etc.

    and I recognize that your main point is to show the WAPO’s point: that shootings bear out the racism…is wrong….a fact that you are correct about.

    But just another point toward the merits of the main issue

  14. and now i see you made the point that MOST violence is not shootings-thanks sorry

    1. (that is-I commented to quick sorry)

      1. Got it.

  15. “The presence of racism makes matters worse for them.”

    Thank you, Professor Bernstein. That one earned some free beer on my next beer run to D.C.

  16. Watching clingers debate racism is always entertaining.

    1. You debate yourself? How many of the sock puppets here are you?

      1. Counting you?

    2. Your insipid religious bigotry and trolling are, as always, disappointing and outside the realm of common discourse.

  17. I haven’t found the statistics (though I haven’t looked very hard) but I did did a bar chart graph breaking down police shooting deaths by race…..and by sex.

    The race disparity – police shoot (and kill) blacks roughly 2.5 times more frequently than they kill whites (by proportion of the popuation.) But they shoot and kill males roughly 20 times more frequently then females (could be thirty or more – the female bars were very small.)

    Native American females seem to be a bit sassier than other females as the sex disparity for Native Americans is ever so slightly lower than for other groups.

    Anyway, perhaps before launching our pet theories for the racial disparity, we should all tune our priors a bit using the sex disparity.

    1. Hypothesis: police commit murder on males, but other,different offenses against females.

  18. “I’ve heard a great deal of rhetoric” – citation needed
    “in some fraction of those” – citation needed
    “the notion that police are generally trigger happy and shooting to death anyone in sight” – straw man
    “who likely have an even lower rate” – citation needed
    “the rhetoric out there” – citation needed

    1. Former law review editor?

      1. I take it you prefer not to be edited.

  19. Post-modern gender studies freshman

    1. Profligation of victimhood.

  20. “In aggregate, that’s a lot of people”

    Not really. We have 340 million people. 912 a year is a very, very small number, for comparison there were 1,024 bicyclist deaths in 2018. Also in 2018, Baltimore had 309 murders and Chicago had 555, almost as many as total US police killings in only two cities.

    The correct number in any event is unjustified killings.

    According to WaPo, there were a total of 41 “unarmed”* people killed by police. According to FBI data, 48 police officers were killed in the line of duty in 2019.

    In short, there is no real crisis. You all may now resume your rioting and looting.

    [*WaPo does not say how many were “unarmed” yet used a knife like Joe Biden says]

    1. ” In short, there is no real crisis. ”

      Black people abused by police — sometimes murdered on camera — is no real crisis.

      Churches expected to comply with generally applicable public health rules during a pandemic — now there’s a crisis.

      The president wants to walk across the street for a photo opportunity with a Bible and his white colleagues, so peaceful, lawful protesters (protesting an on-camera murder and general abusive, racist policing) on public property are dispersed by projectiles and gas . . . while the attorney general directs his “troops” and the military brass strolls around in paunchy camouflage.

      Conservatives deserve everything that is coming to them in the culture war.

    2. Bob,
      I think there are several problems with this line of thinking. First, I think it’s incorrect to assume that only police killings where the suspect was unarmed are the “bad” ones. People have the right to bear arms, and so if a cop kills someone and it’s determined that there was a gun in the car, it doesn’t mean the shooting was justified.

      Second, there is a lot of police misconduct that does not result in the death of the people in custody. Okay, so only 41 unarmed people were killed by police in the last five years and only 9 of them were black. What about unjustified beatings, arrests, etc.? We should not be considering everything short of a execution to be fine. Nor should be there have to be a public outcry following the release of a passerby’s video to get criminal charges brought against law enforcement when they kill someone.

      To the larger point, I tentatively agree that emphasizing the racial disparities per capita of what are relatively small numbers misses the larger problem that police are generally not being held accountable when they use unlawful force. Those disparities are reflective of our criminal justice system as a whole and are the result of many societal factors (including bias) which do not have an easy solution. But to conclude that there is not a problem because law enforcement only killed 41 unarmed people in the line of duty is just plain wrong.

  21. We send police to deal with people who are mentally ill or intoxicated.

    Because we’d rather not do this ourselves, the cops are going to get a lot of free passes from the public. But being filmed murdering a man should still result in arrest, prosecution, and conviction.

  22. “African American deaths may be concentrated in big cities, where the police have better equipment and are better trained than in small rural sheriff’s departments.”

    I suspect that’s a weak point in your argument, at least going by anecdotal references over the years about the firearms (in)competence of LEOs in NYC and Boston.

  23. Well …… DUH! TUCKER CARLSON AND WASHINGTON POST SHOOTING STATISTICS
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qwif8PF1EI&t=49s

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