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The Rhetoric and Reality of Police Shootings and the Black Lives Matter Movement

Anthony Walsh


Published: 2022/12/01


Stoked by some high-profile cases of the killing of Blacks by police, the streets of the United States have been marred with protests and riots over the last several years. Much of this has been fueled by the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement’s narrative that African Americans exist at the mercy of racist White cops and that the police should be defunded and abolished. The prominence of BLM rhetoric reported in the media led to the reluctance of many officers to do their jobs, which arguably is a main cause of the largest ever one-year increase (30%) in homicides and the largest ever one-year decrease in arrests (24%) in 2020. Blacks are undeniably shot at more than twice their expected number based on their proportion of the U.S. population, but this is explained by the fact that Black suspects place themselves in situations in which officers are justified in using lethal force. These situations occur about nine times more often for Black suspects than for White suspects according to some estimates. The fact that police officers are more than three times as likely to be killed by Black than White suspects underlines that fact. A number of studies have shown that Blacks are in fact less likely to be shot by the police than Whites in situations where officers would be justified in using deadly force. Furthermore, many studies have shown that Black officers are more likely than White officers to shoot suspects of all races/ethnicities in such circumstances. Keywords: Black Lives Matter, Police shootings, De-policing, Ferguson Effect, Uniform Crime Statistics

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