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Black Lives Matter: A movement misdirected

The lack of attention to the real issues facing the black community harms the very cause the movement supports

Nicolas Burniske, highlights contributor

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 People shot and killed by police in 2016.

Benjamin Estrada

The activist movement that is Black Lives Matter (BLM) argues that the world’s people, if in favor of equality and social justice, must rally against the shackles of systemic racism harming and afflicting the black community. The intimacy, compassion and rage that many feel for the cause is justifiable, given the media’s representation of the incidents is anything but objective. It is 2016 in the world’s most prosperous and supposed “freest” nation, so how is the epidemic of systemic racism still present?

In truth, it is not. Police brutality affects people of all races in absence of institutional racist intent. As of September 2016, 697 people have been shot and killed by the police and only 14 of those individuals have been unarmed black men. Additionally, fluctuations in the rate of blacks killed by police can be attributed to higher concentrations of crime in minority neighborhoods, resulting in more instances of police officers confronting violent criminals and subsequently using lethal force. Though blacks represent less than one quarter of the population of non-hispanic whites, they are responsible for half of violent crimes like homicides. Despite this disproportionality, twice as many whites are killed by police than blacks. In short, the issue has nothing to do with race and everything to do with culture.

According to a Harvard Study conducted by Ronald G. Fryer, black people are actually shot less frequently by police than white people when factoring in the level of compliance with the police. Additionally, police officers reported shooting before being attacked more often in encounters with white suspects rather than black suspects, as the fear and risk of being accused for exercising racially discriminatory practices takes precedent. This fear obscures the judgement of police officers, and their hesitance may, in some instances, cost them their lives.

The main issue affecting the black community is single parenthood and the disintegration of the familial unit. As said by President Barack Obama, “children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; nine times more likely to dropout of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.” Consequently, when 72 percent of blacks are born out of wedlock, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are bound to be severe negative consequences upon not only the black community, but society as a whole.

The real threat to black lives are other black people considering that the primary cause of death for young black men, ages 15 to 34, is homicide. According to the 2015 Census report and the 2014 FBI Homicide Report respectively, black men are 6.7 percent of the American population but account for 43.2 percent of all murders, moreover, 85 percent of black victims who were murdered were killed by other black people. Compounding the issue even further, a study from Northeastern University modified FBI data files to estimate the characteristics of unsolved homicides and unreported cases. The data showed that from 2010 through 2013, roughly 92 percent of murdered black people were killed by other black people, while the figure for white people killed by whites was 81.5 percent.

Baltimore erupted in riots and outcries of police brutality following the death of Freddie Gray in 2015. The turbulence occurred despite having a 63.3 percent black population, black majority police force, a black majority city council, black police commissioner, black attorney general, black mayor, and black President of the United States (POTUS). Given such black representation, these officers were prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The six police officers, three of which are black, faced charges including second degree murder, manslaughter and assault. They were either acquitted of all charges, or had the charges dropped entirely. It is self-evident that systemic racism and white privilege are not present.

The BLM movement delegitimizes their own cause and will continue to do so unless they internalize and confront the real issues facing them. Their refusal to also address the statistics rebutting their professed narrative is simply unacceptable and hypocritical.  There is no evidence to support the supposed presence of systemic racism. The evil of racism only exists within a certain subset of individuals. Nevertheless, those racist individuals are a definite minority but should be condemned for their immoral practices. Ultimately, the blatant misrepresentation of the problems facing the black community and the responsibility for the lack of proper political and public exposure of these problems falls on the media as well the President, his administration and the party he represents.

Obama’s inability to carry out his duty of uniting the country in the face of crumbling race relations was made clear during his speech at the funeral memorial of the five Dallas Police officers who were murdered by  Micah Johnson. The President equated the murders of the police officers to the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling by stating, “I see people who mourn for the five officers we lost but also weep for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.”

We still do not know the circumstances for either of these cases as per the investigations conducted by the Department of Justice and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Under US legal precedent, every person accused of committing a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. For the POTUS to rush to preemptive judgement and suggest that Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed unjustly is not giving respect to due process of law. Obama then continues to make erroneous claims such as, “We flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.”  The American people deserve more from a president than sensationalizing the facts of an already contentious debate. Thereafter, Obama calls for more government spending, claiming “as a society we choose to underinvest in schools”, thus causing poverty to “fester” and “entire neighborhoods [to] offer no prospect for gainful employment.” This is simply untrue, as he previously pointed out, more money in schools will not make up for the approximate 70 percent of black children growing up without fathers. Poverty festers because of the indoctrination of the black youth to hate police officers, and more violence towards police causes less policing in areas with higher rates of crime.

The propagation of misinformation regarding BLM and the so called “racist” police departments across the nation extends to the Democratic Party. During the 2016 Democratic National Convention the mothers of black men who died during confrontations with police were given the stage to voice their concerns. Clearly these mothers were given this platform to appeal and pander to the demands of the black community, despite their sons’ complicity to their own deaths. Lezley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, claimed her son was a victim of racially prejudiced police brutality, undeterred by a trial jury finding Officer Darren Wilson not guilty based on the overwhelming corroborating evidence. On the evening of his death, Brown had committed a strong arm robbery, assaulted a law enforcement officer and attempted to grab the gun of the accused Officer Wilson, who then shot and killed Brown in self defense. However, some killings do prove to be unjustified, in which case the officer(s) involved are found guilty by a jury of their peers. In April 2015, Officer Stephen Rankin fatally shot an unarmed black man, William Chapman II, in the chest and face and was later convicted for a charge of manslaughter. The majority of these controversial cases do not win because they fail to hold up in a court of law, not because of the inherent systemic racism in the judiciary system. The implicit sacrification of the truth on the altar of political expediency, as to secure the unfaltering devotion of a minority in the upcoming presidential election is unconscionable.

The implications that even the leader of the free world and his respective party are leveraging the fallacy of systemic racism are quite egregious. It prompts us to ask questions as to what exactly the Black Lives Matter movement’s agenda really  is, because it certainly is not justice.

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Black Lives Matter: A movement misdirected