By DAVID FRENCH | National Review
In response to the allegations of Black Lives Matter activists, the Washington Post launched an unprecedented, case-by-case study of police shootings. After a year of research, the data are in, and they confirm the conservative position: The police use force mainly to protect human life, the use of force against unarmed suspects is rare, and the use of force against black Americans is largely proportional to their share of the violent crime rate.
According the Post, as of December 24, American police had fatally shot 965 people in 2015. (The Guardian, in the midst of its own study, reports a slightly higher number of shootings). 564 of those killed were armed with a gun, 281 were armed with another weapon, and 90 were unarmed. In fully three-quarters of shootings, “police were under attack or defending someone who was.”
But what of race? The kinds of shootings that launched the Black Lives Matter movement — white police officers killing unarmed black men — represent “less than 4 percent of fatal police shootings.” The Post does its best to hype the racial injustice of this statistic, proclaiming that while “black men make up only 6 percent of the U.S. population, they account for 40 percent of the unarmed men shot to death by police this year.” But that claim is misleading on a number of counts.
While I am no fan of social movements built on false narratives, Black Lives Matter did inspire the Post’s valuable study — a study that, fairly read, should defuse national tensions. It won’t, however. The narrative is too strong, and too many powerful people have too much to gain by ratcheting up racial tensions. So Black Lives Matter will likely roll on, and still more black Americans will be taught to hate and fear law enforcement, fed on a steady diet of lies about their own country.