I’ve seen this movie before. And for the last 25 years, I thought I’d never have to watch it again. But now it’s playing, not in theaters, but all over mainstream media, with something like rave reviews from the president and his administration.
The theme of the movie is that there is an epidemic of racist white policemen, gunning down innocent black people. The movie’s message, implicit but unambiguous, is that the police must be restrained from vigorous enforcement of the law.
That was the message of the Black Power movement half a century ago, and it is the message of the Black Lives Matter movement today.
Consider the BLM demands. Some are anodyne. Who is against “better training for police officers”? We already have independent (usually elected) prosecutors. The law already “limit(s) the use of force by police.”
But the most important BLM demand is the first: “end ‘broken windows’ policing.” The evidence is that this is already happening — at the cost of black lives.
Even The New York Times has noticed. So far this year, murders are up 76 percent in Milwaukee, 60 percent in St. Louis, 56 percent in Baltimore and 44 percent in Washington, D.C.
While murders are up, arrests are down. There is, as Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald writes, a “reluctance to act (that) is affecting police departments across the country, as virtually every tool in an officer’s tool chest — from traffic stops to public-order maintenance — is vilified as racist.”
In Baltimore, the death of Freddie Gray after slipping into a coma in a police van in April inspired mass protests and apparently prompted police to abandon active patrolling; arrests suddenly plunged 60 percent below 2014 rates. There were 58 murders in Baltimore up to April 15 this year, up from 49. From April 16 to August 23, there were 157 murders in the city, up from 88 in 2014, with 45 murders in July alone. Almost all of the victims were black.
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