Category Archives: Policing

A requiem for Black Lives Matter?

By Wilfred Reilly, Sept. 20, 2022

Source: A requiem for Black Lives Matter – spiked

Black Lives Matter has yet to receive a requiem, a summation in print. More than seven years into the globally unavoidable anti-police movement, there certainly exists a sizable BLM academic literature, dealing – as my political science colleague Bob Maranto has pointed out – with questions ranging from how the movement impacted on youth-voter turnout to the social impact of Ben & Jerry’s selling politically themed flavours of ice-cream.

However, almost no one has examined how well Black Lives Matter met its initial goals: reducing the police violence that was invariably presented as ‘epidemic’ or ‘genocidal’ and reducing crime more broadly, as brothers and others came to trust a fairer criminal justice system. For that matter, whatever happened to the literally billions of dollars donated, in good faith, to national and local BLM chapters?

This article takes a shot at those tough questions. In most cases, unfortunately, the blunt but real answer seems to be: Black Lives Matter had few, if any, positive impacts. Police violence is down slightly, if at all, while overall crime in BLM-affected areas has sky-rocketed back to 1990s levels. As Dr Maranto and I recently noted for Commentary magazine, rates of fatal shootings of civilians by US police – per an authoritative database from the Washington Post – appear to have hardly budged during the post-2014 BLM era. There were 994 fatal police shootings in toto in 2015, 958 in 2016, 981 in 2017, 993 in 2018, 999 in 2019, and 1,020 in 2020.

Not only was this change in rate clearly not significant in statistical terms, police shootings of citizens actually increased almost three per cent during the period under review. Fatal police shootings specifically of black Americans followed a very similar pattern year-on-year, with 258 black men and women shot in 2015, 236 shot in 2016, 222 in 2017, 228 in 2018, 251 in 2019, and 243 in 2020. The same was true for killings of unarmed persons: 95 ‘fatal shootings of an unarmed individual’ did take place in the outlier year of 2015, but we then saw 64 in 2016, 71 in 2017, 58 in 2018, 54 in 2019, and 60 in 2020 – a variance of less than seven per cent between the first typical year given here and the last.

It should be noted, honestly, that shootings specifically of unarmed (32) and black (178) individuals did decline sharply in 2021, following the Summer of Floyd. However, it is not obvious that this represents the start of any sort of novel pattern: at least 20 unarmed individuals had already been shot and killed by police when I fact-checked this year’s Washington Post database back in July. Furthermore, overall rates of police violence appear actually to be on the rise: 1,054 citizens were fatally shot by law enforcement officers in 2021, versus 1,020 in 2020, and the US is currently on pace for approximately 1,100 such killings in 2022 (we stand at 744 three weeks into month nine of the calendar). The picture here is complex.

In contrast, the post-BLM picture of American trends in street crime is quite simple: serious crime has sky-rocketed in recent years. The most reliable annual crime data are the homicide figures, and as Jason Johnson – police researcher, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, and former deputy police commissioner of Baltimore – points out: ‘[In 2020] the United States tallied more than 20,000 murders – the highest total since 1995 and 4,000 more than in 2019.’ This surge is remarkable when analysed at the level of any hard-hit individual city: NYC ‘added more than 100 additional homicides’ in 2020 and endured a 58 per cent overall increase in the murder rate.

New York hardly suffered alone. In the ‘Second City’ of Chicago, my hometown, the already world-famous murder rate increased by 65 per cent. Our friendly southern rivals saw surges of the same kind. Murders in St Louis hit the highest level in half a century, reaching a benchmark of 87 killings per 100,000 residents (the rate in El Salvador today is 61.8 per 100,000). The criminologist Jeff Asher points out that homicides in my new home of Louisville (KY) had jumped 80 per cent – from 78 in 2019 to 139 in 2020 – by the time he compiled his primary data set in October of the latter year.

The same pattern that explains each of these specific case studies was also easy to see more generally. The 2020-21 report from the Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice (CCCJ) points out that, across basically all of 21 major US cities that opted to provide the project with data, ‘murder rates jumped more than 30 per cent fall-over-fall and more than 40 per cent summer-over-summer from 2019 to 2020’. Across the set of cities contributing information to this initiative – recall that 331 US cities currently have a population of more than 100,000 – murders soared by 610 between 2019 and 2020. And, importantly if unsurprisingly, almost all other serious violent crimes followed the same pattern: ‘Aggravated assaults went up by 15 per cent in the summer and 13 per cent in the fall of 2020; gun assaults increased by 15 and 16 per cent.’ To the extent that they are available, many – though not all – 2021 crime figures show the continuation of very similar patterns.

Many truly innovative, and sometimes entertaining, explanations for this massive nationwide surge in crime have been advanced on the American political left – readers with a sense of humour might want to check out this article from Vox. However, Dr Maranto, Johnson, and I and most other serious scholars writing in this field have no issue linking the crime wave to specific policies championed by Black Lives Matter and similar groups. While drastically reducing police budgets, which several major cities truly did do, can hardly have helped with the crime problem, the most obvious such policy was plain ‘police pullback’ – the reduction of officer stops of suspicious individuals and vehicles, ‘stop-and-frisks’, and other basically voluntary interactions between law-enforcement officers and citizens.

The data bear this out. In NYC, Chicago and Louisville, the just-mentioned surges in homicide followed decreases in officer-initiated stops (and subsequent arrests) of respectively 38 per cent, 53 per cent, and 45 per cent. In NYC, between June and December of 2020, the NYPD recorded an amazing 45,000 fewer arrests than it had during the same ‘six-month fiscal’ the year before. The results were predictable.

They were also nothing new. The modern leftist ‘kinder and gentle’ approach to the policing of tough urban areas has been tried over and over since its genesis during the 1960s, and the results have always been basically the same. Back in 2016, during the first wave of what has now been seven or eight years of BLM unrest in the US, a neighbourhood Chicago paper – with a heavily black readership – ran the tear-jerking but unremarkable headline: ‘Chicago Police Stops Down 90 per cent… Gun Violence Sky-Rockets.’ Decades before this, the Miranda v Arizona and Escobedo v Illinois legal cases, fruit of the poisoned-tree evidence doctrine, both shifted the balance of power in interrogations in favour of suspects. Meanwhile, the community policing movement, ‘maximum sentence’ campaigns and so forth of the 1960s led directly to a brutal new normal for American crime, which endured until the Bill Clinton and Rudy Giuliani backlash of the fed-up post-OJ 1990s.

Of what do I speak? For those too young to remember 1990s dramas like Kids and New Jack City, it is important to remember how bad crime in urban America used to be. Between 1963 and 1993, murders, rapes and robberies on an annual basis increased from baselines of 8,640, 17,650, and 116,470 respectively to 24,530, 106,010, and 659,870 – increases in the 500 per cent range that far outstripped any effect of population growth. The ‘Post-BLM Effect’ has been similar if smaller: US murders had dropped to 14,164 in 2014, before surging back over the hated 20,000 mark today. And there seems little doubt of a causal relationship here. The highly professional CCCJ report notes that: ‘Homicides, aggravated assaults and gun assaults rose significantly beginning in late May and June of 2020.’ As we know, George Floyd died on 25 May 2020, and widespread unrest and police pullback began almost immediately afterward.

Did Black Lives Matter help any ‘Black folX’ live better black lives, a wit might ask? Setting aside some genuine good works by local chapters like Hawk Newsome’s, a cynical but real answer would seem to be that the movement certainly helped its original founders, current leaders, and their favourite charities. As The Economist pointed out, donations to BLM-related causes – the Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation (BLMGNF) and other NGOs at the heart of international BLM – between May and December 2020 amounted to $10.6 billion. And most regular American black working men or anti-racist British punks would likely be a bit bemused to find out where most of that money has gone.

Per my investigative article for spiked on this topic, a shortlist of causes to receive at least a six-figure grant from BLMGNF includes: ‘Trans United, the Audrey Lorde Project (Trans Justice), Black Trans Circles, the Transgender District, the Black Trans Travel Fund, the Okra Project, For the Gworls, the Trans Justice Funding Project, the Trans Housing Coalitions Homeless Black Trans Women’s Fund, Black Trans Media, and Black Trans Femmes in the Arts.’ Very probably, BLMGNF – an entity which is ‘unapologetically queer’ – has committed more money to gay and particularly trans-advocacy organisations than to black groups focused on improving the ‘hood’ or fighting police brutality. Indeed, a collective of urban Black Lives Matter chapters known as the #BLM10, which includes the significant New Jersey and Hudson Valley branches of the organisation, has publicly complained that its chapters have received ‘little to no financial support’ since BLM’s launch in 2013.

Be that as it may, organisational contributions and individual speaking fees have certainly enabled a pleasant lifestyle for the Black Lives Matter national leadership team, as well as those affiliated with the charities they support. During 2020 and 2021, former BLMGNF CEO Patrisse Cullors made headlines repeatedly because of her taste in luxury real estate – purchasing ‘a custom ranch … featuring a private aeroplane hangar’ on 3.2 acres of prime Georgia land, and a 2,370 square foot Topanga Canyon property including ‘two houses on a quarter acre’, as well as checking out a third property in a trendy Bahamas resort ‘where Justin Timberlake and Tiger Woods both have homes’. These new toys joined the two homes she already owned: an $800,000 property in Inglewood, and a $720,000 home in diverse but gentrifying South LA. From the balcony of any of those, glass in hand, revolution must seem a fine thing indeed.

From my perspective on a typical American street, however, a quick and negative summary of the effects of BLM comes immediately to mind: Black Lives Matter got a lot of black people killed.

Wilfred Reilly is a spiked columnist and the author of Taboo: 10 Facts You Can’t Talk About, published by Regnery. Follow him on Twitter: @wil_da_beast630


Elections and Crime in Seattle

Source: Elections and Crime in Seattle – WSJ

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell Photo: Steve Ringman/Associated Press

Voters in Seattle sent a message on crime last November by electing law and order candidates Bruce Harrell and Ann Davison as mayor and city attorney. They’re making some progress, despite the long shadow of a City Council that has twice cut police funding.

Eleven people were slain in Seattle in August, the most in a month in the 14 years recorded on the police crime dashboard. August’s victims include Rodney Peterman, 66, who was bludgeoned with a metal pole in broad daylight near Pike Place Market. Mercer Roy, a 31-year-old father, was gunned down while playing basketball at Cal Anderson Park.

The city is under a longstanding police-reform consent decree, and in August 2021 federal monitor Antonio Oftelie described “an unprecedented exodus of officers” amid a lack of political and financial support for the police. Cops have continued to quit, and this summer Mr. Harrell declared that the police staffing shortage had become a “crisis” that “harms public safety.” In July the city had only 950 officers, the fewest in three decades.

Last month Mr. Harrell persuaded the City Council to sign off on a recruitment and retention plan that includes hiring bonuses for new officers. The bigger test will be whether the council stops defunding the police in the next budget.

Jamie Housen, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to say what police funding numbers Mr. Harrell will seek because his proposal is still being finalized. “That said, the mayor ran on a pledge to fully fund police services in line with the public safety needs of the people of Seattle,” he said, adding that the budget will “support a thorough and holistic approach to public safety.”

Meanwhile, Ms. Davison is making progress against the misdemeanor crimes that degrade the quality of life and contribute to an atmosphere of lawlessness. (The Seattle city attorney handles misdemeanors while King County prosecutors deal with felonies.)

A recent report shows Ms. Davison is prosecuting more street crimes, including theft, trespassing, harassment and assault. In the second quarter of 2022, she declined to press charges in 37% of new misdemeanors that the Seattle Police Department has referred to her office. Her predecessor had declined 56% and 60% of police referrals for street crimes in the same period of 2019 and 2021, respectively.

Ms. Davison has also made progress in targeting Seattle’s worst repeat offenders. This spring her office discovered that fewer than 120 lawbreakers were responsible for more than 2,400 misdemeanor crimes in Seattle in the past five years.

Some two dozen categories of misdemeanor had been handled by Seattle’s Community Court, which releases the accused with a referral to support services and sometimes an assignment to attend life-skills classes or do community service. In May Ms. Davison persuaded the Municipal Court to sign off on reforms that exclude the worst recidivists from this leniency by default. Her office says some 45 of Seattle’s most prolific criminals are now in custody.

Mr. Harrell and Ms. Davison can’t fix Seattle alone. But credit both for addressing the culture of impunity that has fueled the lawlessness. If voters want more progress, they’ll have to clear out the City Council.


Jerry Nadler Beats Carolyn Maloney in East Germany’s Primary – WSJ

Source: Jerry Nadler Beats Carolyn Maloney in East Germany’s Primary – WSJ

New Yorkers spent Tuesday evening switching channels from the “subway series” between the Yankees and the Mets and the “limousine liberal series” between Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney to win New York’s 12th Congressional District.

By the time the Yankees completed their two-game sweep of the Mets, it was clear Mr. Nadler had retired Ms. Maloney from politics with a surprisingly easy win. Tuesday’s vote and events of the past two weeks have revealed a lot about the political realities of New York City.

For 30 years, Mr. Nadler has represented Manhattan’s West Side, which a friend of mine once likened to living in East Germany. Ms. Maloney, also a 30-year fixture, represented the real limousine liberals in the co-op canyon neighborhoods of the Upper East Side.

The state’s Democrats made an over-the-top try earlier this year to gerrymander the state’s political map to all but obliterate New York’s Republican congressional delegation. But a judge tossed it out and the map redrawn by a court-appointed specialist hilariously forced Mr. Nadler and Ms. Maloney to compete for the 12th District. It was like making Tweedledum run against Tweedledee.

The campaign was something out of Monty Python, with Ms. Maloney pushing her pro-abortion credentials by saying “you cannot send a man to do a woman’s job.” Mr. Nadler ran as Donald Trump’s impeachment tormenter.

Adding to the entertainment, Mr. Trump himself belly-slammed into the campaign in its final week. Taking time away from the FBI’s invasion of his Mar-a-Lago estate, Mr. Trump posted a sham endorsement of Ms. Maloney and mock praise for Mr. Nadler. Jerry Nadler, Mr. Trump said, is “high energy, sharp, quick-witted, and bright,” but “Carolyn Maloney is the better man.” Carolyn, he wrote, “has my Complete and Total Endorsement.”

New Yorkers could use a laugh. The grim East German analogy isn’t so far-fetched. New York City is now a far-left, one-party state if measured by election outcomes. Though a city of more than eight million (and that number is falling), almost no one bothers to vote. Turnout Tuesday was about 8%. That is why four Democratic Socialists in the city won their primaries for the state’s Senate.

In a burst of hope over political reality last year, the New Yorkers who live in the city’s poorest neighborhoods got law-and-order candidate Eric Adams elected mayor. But a series of recent crimes are a case study in the perils of one-party rule, especially when that party represents progressivism’s see-no-evil ideology.

On Aug. 11, a subway cleaner was brutally beaten after he intervened against a man harassing women. That’s not news. Subway assaults are routine. The news was that the head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Janno Lieber, and the subway workers’ union felt compelled to convene a press conference, pleading with the Bronx district attorney to enforce a law that would ban the attacker from the subways for three years. The injured worker’s sister said she hopes the attacker gets “the max.” He won’t. The minimum is progressivism’s goal.

The next day, video near a restaurant caught a muscular man sucker-punching another man, leaving him in a coma. Initially, the man was charged with attempted murder, but progressive Bronx prosecutors downgraded the charge to misdemeanor assault and harassment. The alleged perpetrator walked free without bail.

After the New York Post publicized this travesty, Gov. Kathy Hochul—who has mocked calls by Mayor Adams to reform the state’s no-bail laws as a “political slogan”—claimed she intervened with the Bronx district attorney to reinstate more-serious charges. The victim’s niece, Daisy Gomez, said to the Post of his attacker, “We want him behind bars and to do time—not like five years, more than that.”

Again, small chance. The district attorney knows that Gov. Hochul’s intervention was cynical and meaningless, an attempt to offset criticism by her Republican gubernatorial challenger, Rep. Lee Zeldin of Long Island. Gov. Hochul has the authority to fire these district attorneys but won’t, for fear the progressives who carried the city Tuesday would abandon her in November against Mr. Zeldin.

The following day, Aug. 13, a Ghanaian taxi driver who chased five people fleeing their fare in Queens was beaten to death. He was the father of four. This crime also was caught on video for New Yorkers to see on the evening news. Another press conference was held, this one led by the head of the taxi drivers’ union, who said, “Stop considering the rights of the criminals above the rights of the victims.”

In all these public outpourings, with the exception of the MTA chief, the members of the victim’s families or the representatives of the unions and organizations speaking for them are black or Hispanic. They want “the max.”

Their pain has no resonance. Progressive criminal-justice theory has become an ideology of sudden death for minorities at their jobs or walking on a street. The cycle of crime, fear and tears grinds the city down daily.

Mayor Adams has been complaining about the busloads of migrants Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is sending to New York, a “sanctuary city.” Sanctuary? From what?



Wife of Jan. 6 Prisoner: ‘We’re Being Targeted,’ It’s All About ‘Revenge’

The Epoch Times, 3/11/2022   By Patricia Tolson

The events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the United States Capitol have been described by some as an attempted “coup,” “domestic terrorism,” and a “deadly capitol insurrection.” But the jailed participants, and their friends and family, are convinced Jan. 6 participants are being targeted and threatened because of their support for former President Donald Trump.

“I know they are definitely being targeted, especially in the jail, and us as a family,” said Angel Harrelson, whose husband, Kenneth Harrelson, is in jail on charges of sedition and conspiracy related to his presence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

Angel Harrelson of Titusville, Florida, told The Epoch Times her husband has received death threats in jail and that she and her family have been targeted and harassed by the media. She said her husband also received a postcard in jail that included the family’s home address.

“They’ve threatened his whole family and they’re allowing those cards to get through over there,” she said.

About 700 people have been charged in connection to Jan. 6, and dozens have been sentenced to jail time, house arrest, and probation. More than 500 cases against Jan. 6 defendants remain open, The Washington Post reported in January.

In July 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) formed the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol, but only two Republicans—Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois—agreed to participate after Pelosi rejected candidates recommended by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

Republicans have criticized the committee, stating the investigation is politically driven.

Despite claims to the contrary by several politicians and media figures, the FBI found no evidence that the breach of the Capitol was a coordinated attack, Reuters reported.

Angel and Kenneth Harrelson .
Angel and Kenneth Harrelson in the parking lot of SpaceX in Cape Canaveral Air Force Base in Florida just before a rocket launch in July 2019. (Courtesy of Angel Harrelson)

Kenneth Harrelson, 41, is a U.S. Army veteran. His wife said he traveled to Washington on Jan. 6 to protect Trump supporters from Antifa, a violent left-wing activist group that often disrupts conservative events.

Kenneth and Angel Harrelson have four children, including an 18-year-old son who will be graduating this year. He enlisted in the Army and will leave for boot camp a month after graduation. They also have a 15-year-old daughter who is mildly autistic and suffering terribly in her father’s absence, Harrelson said.

“She’s a daddy’s girl,” she said.

Angel Harrison said her husband and other Jan. 6 defendants are served rotten food, and that it’s up to family members to raise money for the defendants’ commissary accounts.

"Political Prisoner of War" t-Shirt from online store created by Angel Harrelson to raise money to buy her husband's food at the jail commissary.
“Political Prisoner of War” T-Shirt from an online store created by Angel Harrelson to raise money to buy her husband’s food at the jail commissary. (Courtesy of Angel Harrelson)

“We spend about $125 at the commissary per week, and care packages cost about $125 per month,” she said. She has set up a GiveSendGo account to help cover the continued costs, as well as an online store, selling products in support of those being persecuted as “Political Prisoners of War (PPOWs).”

Angel Harrelson said she hasn’t seen her husband since he went to jail a year ago, and that he’s become depressed. She said prosecutors are angry that he rejected a plea deal.

Kenneth Harrelson was first charged with obstruction, then conspiracy and sedition, his wife said.

Angel Harrelson also said her husband is accused of obstructing police officers by surrounding Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, but Harrelson said the protestors were protecting Dunn from rioters who had become violent.

Dunn is the officer who made unsubstantiated claims that the Jan. 6 protesters used a racial slur against him.

Prosecutors argue Harrelson was a leader for the Oath Keepers, with access to high-powered firearms. They allege Harrelson is present in photos captured at a Comfort Inn outside Washington, and that he’s seen in photos rolling a cart down the hallway after a riot. Authorities insist there is at least one rifle case on the cart.

Brad Geyer, attorney for January 6 defendant, Kenneth Harrelson.
Brad Geyer, attorney for January 6 defendant, Kenneth Harrelson. (Courtesy of Brad Geyer)

Brad Geyer, attorney for Kenneth Harrelson, told The Epoch Times there were no unlawful firearms involved in the Jan. 6 events.

According to Geyer, the Oath Keepers were there in an official capacity to protect “VIPs” who were speaking during different events during the rally, and “it was standard operating procedure for the Oath Keepers” to “provide a strong defense” in that environment, he said.

Geyer insists the Oath Keepers were never in an altercation with Capitol Police, and that the group’s members kept their legal weapons in Virginia because firearms are not allowed in Washington.

Harrelson is also accused of searching for Pelosi during the breach and engaging in text messages threatening the House speaker’s life. Geyer said Harrelson did not participate in those messages, which were part of a group chat, and that his phone wasn’t working while he was inside the Capitol Building.

“There was some kind of jamming going on, which makes it difficult for people to communicate with each other,” Geyer said. “If there was something bad going on, people couldn’t warn others to stay away. I don’t think that was a mistake.”

Geyer also noted video showing Capitol Police moving barricades and waving people toward the Capitol Building. Another video shows police holding doors open while protesters file peacefully inside. A third video shows police standing back to allow an orderly group of protesters to pass by peacefully while one officer is seen waving the protesters along, contradicting reports that the crowd forced their way into the building.

Epoch Times Photo
Protesters are seen taking pictures inside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021. (Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“There was no breach,” Geyer said, noting that prosecutors are fond of using that word. “No breach. Opening the door from the inside and inviting them in makes them invitees.”

Geyer said he will try to identify the police who ushered Harrelson up the steps and held the doors open to invite him inside.

If Kenneth Harrelson is convicted, his wife said the family will lose the veteran’s benefits they rely on for their house payment, car payment, and daily needs.

She said she’s always looked up to the police and trusted the government to find the truth about the situation, but now, she said she feels betrayed.

“I’ve known police officers all my life and a few are my best friends,” she said. “But how am I supposed to trust any of them now when they lie? I know my husband is innocent.”

Geyer agreed and said Kenneth Harrelson is “totally innocent.”

“I assumed that on some level, there would be some level of guilt, that you would be able to find something that he did,” Geyer said. “But his level of innocence is so overwhelming, it was a wake-up call for me.”

Geyer said the fallout from Jan. 6 has led to “a strange, mass psychosis event” surrounding defendants, and that the federal government maintains the façade of the Jan. 6 investigation by demonizing Harrelson and other defendants so they appear dangerous.

“He poses no threat of flight, and any suggestion to the contrary is concocted or made up, but they’re never going to let him out,” Geyer said.