The decade's most triggering comedy
In late-May, 46-year-old African American man George Floyd died after Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin used his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground for more than eight minutes.
Following Floyd’s killing, protests and riots erupted in numerous cities across the nation, bringing to the fore discussions of police brutality and reform. Democrats and Republicans in Congress have proposed separate reform packages, but as of publication, nothing has been settled.
The Daily Wire had the opportunity to speak with Coleman Hughes, contributing editor at City Journal, fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and host of the “Conversations with Coleman” podcast.
Hughes has written and spoken extensively on issues concerning race and the black community. He recently penned an excellent analysis of the current climate, specifically as it relates to the Black Lives Matter movement, the killing of George Floyd, and the data surrounding it. The piece, titled “Stories and Data,” can be read here.
In the following interview, which you can listen to via SoundCloud or read below, Hughes discusses the media-driven perception Americans have of police brutality, crime statistics, the actual data surrounding the killing of unarmed individuals, and a whole lot more.
[NOTE: Any differences between the audio version of this interview and the transcript below were made for purposes of clarity and readability, and do not effect context or meaning].
DW: It seems that stories of troubling police interactions from minority populations are common. They’ve been shared across social media, as well as from person to person. In situations in which anecdotal evidence is being used to convey a larger message, either real or perceived, how do you separate what’s being said from the statistical reality that you know to be true?
HUGHES: That’s a very important question. Obviously, you can’t prove a larger trend based on anecdotes. But nonetheless, anecdotes do matter, and they’re a big part of the way that the average person develops a model of what’s going on in society. So most black people, certainly above a certain age, have a story of a cop pulling them over under circumstances that they perceive to be motivated by racial bias. Now, I have no doubt that some of those perceptions are accurate, which is to say the cop wouldn’t have pulled over a white person. But at the same time, no doubt some of those perceptions are a manifestation of paranoia of thinking that something is racist when it’s in fact not. Most white people above a certain age, definitely white men above a certain age, have a story of encountering a cop who’s just a d*ck.
The problem is one of when a black person encounters the d*ck cop, it’s almost invariably perceived as a racist d*ck cop. So there’s that perception. To get to the reality, obviously, you have to look at the statistics, and there are literally ten million arrests that take place in the U.S. every year. That doesn’t even cover the total number of police-civilian interactions, which is many tens of millions higher. So to get any kind of accurate picture of what’s going on, you have to look at the data, even though people are not inclined to do it. When you look at that data, you find that black people are more likely to experience the police in everything from a typical cop interaction that doesn’t end in an arrest to everything up to a shooting.
So at every level, black people are more likely to experience the police, which understandably creates the impression of racism, and there probably is some racial bias throughout much of the spectrum of policing. However, if you really want to understand why it is that black people are experiencing more of the police, you can’t ignore the massive fact of disparate crime. Black people, at 13% or 14% of the population, commit and suffer just over 50% of homicides. That’s the largest disparity. It’s also the most reliable one because the homicide statistics are the ones that you can’t fake because they produce a body every time.
But every violent crime category from robbery to aggravated assault shows a racial disproportion almost that large. So if you want to understand why black people are experiencing 25% or so of the arrests at 13% of the population, you have to understand that police – unless they’re being dangerously and incompetently negligent – are focusing on parts of cities that have high crime rates, or else they would simply not be doing their jobs. Even if that is done on a completely colorblind basis, black people, and black men in particular, are going to attract a disproportionate amount of police attention.
DW: A phrase I’ve been hearing frequently from media figures is that it’s “open season” on black people from the cops. There’s a perception that police are “on the hunt” for black Americans and that black Americans are being targeted and killed by law enforcement because of the color of their skin. Are police killing a disproportionate number of black Americans, and if so, is there an explanation other than racism?
HUGHES: I guess there are two ideas there in one. The first is that it’s open season on black people, which implies that this is a widespread phenomenon that, if I leave my house today as a black man, I should be worried, among other things, like getting hit by a car or getting robbed, I should be worried about getting shot dead by a cop. The numbers obviously don’t justify that. I think total Americans of all races, 55 unarmed Americans were shot last year, and many of those were in the process of attacking cops or reaching for their weapons. Just based on that, we’re talking about the order of lightening strikes.
Regardless of what the racial disparity is, it’s not open season, unless it’s a risk worth worrying about, which objectively, it’s not, as an individual. That’s not to say we shouldn’t do anything as a society about the issue. It’s just to say that it’s not rational to fear this happening to you as an individual in 99.9% of circumstances.
Then the second notion is that this is something that overwhelmingly or only or disproportionately happens to black people. So that’s, again, where you have to look at the data, and you also have to look at the stories.
An important part of what’s happened in the past, say, seven years since the Black Lives Matter movement started in earnest is that the media has reported virtually every – and I’m talking about the national media. Local news is pretty good with reporting everything – but the national media has elevated only stories of black unarmed Americans getting shot by cops, and has ignored stories about white unarmed Americans getting shot by cops. It’s not that it doesn’t happen to white people. It happens to white people frequently, if you’re talking about from the perspective of the entire nation.
For example, I wrote a recent piece at City Journal called “Stories and Data.” I take a paragraph in that piece, and I picked a year at random and found out a dozen or so white Americans that were killed by the cops unarmed. Many were thought to be reaching for their wallets; one was shot in the back, face down; one was six years old; one was a woman whose dog allegedly scared or frightened a cop, and the cop shot at the dog immediately and hit the woman in the crossfire; one was very similar to Michael Brown – he had just robbed a store and allegedly failed to put his hands up on request.
So the more you look at these stories, the more you realize that for every black person shot by the cops, there is basically an identical, usually several, instances of a white person killed by the cops often from the same exact year. George Floyd has a white counterpart named Tony Timpa, who was killed in 2016 when a Dallas police officer put his knee on Tony’s upper neck for 13 minutes and killed him, all the while Tony is begging for his life. No one knows the name Tony Timpa. No one knows the name Daniel Elrod or Daniel Shaver or Dylan Noble or Autumn Steele. If any one of these people were black, they would be part of the chant that goes on at BLM protests, “Say their names. Say their names.”
So that’s the first thing. Then you might accept that, but then say, “Sure, it happens to white people sometimes, but if you look at the data, black people are 14% of the population, but 35% or so of those who get shot by cops, at least in the past five years for which we have good data.” That’s true. That is a true fact. Black people are overrepresented relative to population share. But as we all learned, or hopefully learned if we took an introductory statistics class, you have to control for confounding variables when you’re trying to say that A causes B, in this case, that racial bias causes black people to be killed disproportionately.
I’m aware of at least four careful studies that have tried to control for all the variables, which is, how often do black people come in contact with police to begin with based on the facts of racially disparate crime? How often are suspects armed? How often do suspects attack cops? You control for all of the relevant variables, and you find that actually there is no disparity in deadly shootings.
There are some disparities in a cop’s likelihood to put his hands on a black or Hispanic suspect. As Harvard economist Roland Fryer found, cops are around 20% more likely to go hands-on a suspect if he’s black or Hispanic. The reason for that is unclear. It could be racial bias is a factor. It could be that black or Hispanic suspects are more likely to resist arrest because they perceive the arrest as being unfair for some reason. There could be different cultures of resisting arrest. That would be another plausible explanation – and it’s probably a combination of all these things. But the evidence that there’s racial bias in a cop’s decision to pull the trigger is paper thin, and in fact, really nonexistent.
DW: CNN’s Alisyn Camerota recently asked Minneapolis City Council president, Lisa Bender, who to call, given the “Defund the Police” talking point, if her home was being broken into. Bender replied that such a question is a manifestation of “white privilege.” I’ve seen similar themes popping up on my social media feed.
One comment I saw said that if a white person were to call the police feeling as though their life might be threatened, and the subject of the call were black, that white person must come to terms with the fact that because of biases grounding their potentially unfounded fears, they have to contend with the notion that they may have just sentenced that black man to death.
What’s your response to remarks like that, which are increasingly common on social media in this climate?
HUGHES: So, if I’m going to be as charitable as possible and try to find a kernel of truth in it, it would be this. Sometimes people call the police when they ought not to. It happens, it doesn’t get reported. It’s not newsworthy necessarily. But one should be on guard for the potential that one harbors a racial bias that’s making one more scared than one should be. Okay. I acknowledge that. If I was talking to someone, I’m sure people have a story of a time when someone called the cops on them and they shouldn’t have, and I’ve heard stories like that from time to time. Okay. Fine. Fine. At the same time, it is absolutely ridiculous the idea that if you are actually being threatened, and the person threatening you happens to be black, that you ought not call the police because it’s a death sentence.
First of all, it’s not a death sentence any more than a lightning strike is a death sentence based on the frequency at which it occurs. Second of all, even people who think there should be basically no government, which is the hardest-core libertarians, acknowledge that the first function of government is public safety. Before they’re meant to teach us in public schools and provide us with health care, they are there to ensure that if someone tries to hurt me physically, that I can rely on a third party, namely the government, which has a monopoly on violence, to punish them and to protect me. If government is not meant to do that, then government is meant to do nothing. Last time I checked, it’s not a sign of white privilege to want protection for yourself and your children.
Last time I checked, in fact, the people most vulnerable to crime are black people. Every poll that asks people how concerned they are about crime in their neighborhood, and then disaggregate by race – Gallup has done this, Federal Reserve has done this – every time, they find that black people are more concerned about crime in their neighborhood than white people. That makes perfect sense given the fact that the vast majority of crime is within the same race, and black people are disproportionately likely to commit and therefore suffer crime. So who needs the police more than black people?
Of course, that’s a complicated relationship because that also entails that black people are experiencing the burden of police attention, and therefore, even if police are just as likely to rough up a suspect, black people are going to be disproportionately likely to be on that side of arrests gone wrong or of a brutal cop. But the idea that calling the police is somehow a sign of white privilege is ridiculous. In fact, I’ve seen a study that looked at, I believe it looked at all police calls in the past 50 or more years, and found that black women were the likeliest to call the police of all the racial demographic groups, which again, makes sense.
So this is something that is totally out of touch with – the kinds of people that would say this are the kinds of people that would never move to the neighborhood, they would never move to East Harlem or the South Side of Chicago or East St. Louis because these neighborhoods are extremely difficult to live in given the prevalence of violent crime. It’s a kind of double think. The type of person who never questions why they wouldn’t move to these neighborhoods or who just offhandedly says, “Oh, that’s a bad neighborhood,” without thinking about what in particular makes it bad. Is it the buildings? Is it the streetlights? What is it? But then would go around and say, “Well, it’s your white privilege to say that you want to call the cops.” I mean, it’s ridiculous.
DW: I continue to hear variations of the phrase “law enforcement is systemically racist,” or they’re “biased against minorities.” We’ve touched on this a little bit already, but what does the evidence say? Because the phraseology seems to me to be counterproductive, that it creates a picture that all 800,000 or so police officers in the nation, hundreds of departments and hundreds of jurisdictions, are all operating on the same system or on the same level.
HUGHES: I don’t always know how to interpret when people say that law enforcement is systemically racist. I have no doubt that many cops have racial biases at some level of their consciousness. By the way, I’m not just talking about white cops. I’m talking about Hispanic cops, black cops, Asian cops, which is to say when they see a black suspect, at some level in their mind, the fact that he’s black tunes up their suspicion just a tad. We can talk about why that is. Partly, that could be based on them imbibing too many media stereotypes about black people, but it could also be the fact that if I were a cop in New York City, where above 95% of shootings are committed by blacks and Hispanics, years of experience, I might develop a kind of racial bias, which is of course tragic for the black or Hispanic person that I pull over unjustly when they’re not doing anything wrong. But it’s also an emergent fact of racially disparate crime, which is the first order issue that many people are uncomfortable talking about.
So when people say it’s “systemically racist,” what do they mean? Do they mean that there are racist cops? Well, I don’t think that, because I thought the whole purpose of the notion of “systemic” racism was that no individual in the system has to be a racist for the system to produce racist outcomes. I mean, that’s why they add the word “systemic” rather than just saying there are all these racist cops.
On the other hand, I see a lot of concern about individual racist cops. So, there’s a kind of having it both ways by saying, “it’s the system, not the individuals, but also the problem is individuals.” I’m not totally sure what is meant. If they just mean to gesture to the fact that there are problems with police, I don’t disagree with that. I think there’s corruption; there are cops lying to protect one another; there is a lack of accountability; it’s very difficult to get punished, even if you do misbehave as a police officer. But “all of American police” as racist, that is an extremely superficial analysis of the real problems that do exist with policing.
DW: Is there progress being made? If so, why aren’t we seeing that progress reflected in the general public’s perception of racism in policing? To that point, it’s widely believed that Derek Chauvin’s behavior was motivated by race when we don’t have the evidence either way at this point. So, what’s your response to the lack of perceived progress?
HUGHES: So there are two questions there. One is, why do people perceive the Chauvin-Floyd incident as motivated by race? Well, the simple answer is, again, it goes back to the fact that they’ve never seen the video of a white cop doing it to white Tony Timpa, and so they think this kind of thing only happens to black people. They think that had George Floyd been white, this could never have happened to him because they are only exposed to a small sliver of police-civilian interactions that are elevated by national media. It’s therefore a gigantic lie of omission that this kind of stuff only happens to black people.
Then the second question is about progress. Has the problem of police shooting unarmed civilians in circumstances where they shouldn’t gotten better, worse, or stayed the same? That’s a question that is, to some degree, answerable. We don’t have data from everywhere. The NYPD has kept pretty good data since 1971. If I’m not mistaken, they killed above 90 people that year, and they shot and killed five people in the latest year for which they’ve gathered data. So 93 to five, that’s massive progress. I don’t see how that’s not progress. Just in the past five years when The Washington Post has been collecting data on how many unarmed people get shot, the numbers have gone down significantly. So by any objective assessment, this problem is getting better every single year.
The problem is that people don’t have an objective assessment. People are not inclined to look at data. The vast majority of people don’t care about data in one way or another; they don’t believe data; they think the people who gathered the data are all corrupt. People believe conspiracy theories. They watch the news for one hour a day, or they get their information from Instagram or Facebook, and those news feeds are curated to show them exactly what they already believe or what the algorithm knows will outrage them the most, which is usually the most superficial version of the counterarguments against what they believe. So they encounter the opposite, and they encounter only straw men of the opposite side, and they see a video of a white cop with his knee on the neck of a black person, and that’s all they need in order to know that the problem is worse – but really, it’s a mirage created by social media.
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the modern era in race relations, which I would call the “Black Lives Matter versus All Lives Matter” era, started in 2013, which is just about the year that everyone and their mom was on Facebook and had a smartphone. Not a coincidence at all. What it means is that for the first time in American history, if a cop did shoot an unarmed person, there was a high likelihood that it was filmed and could be disseminated instantly. That wasn’t true in even 2009 or 2005 when the problem objectively was much worse.
So it’s a perception problem created by social media and smartphones that has caused people to think that no progress has been made, when on any objective assessment, huge progress has been made.
DW: So in that same vein, what do you think can be done to convey to the black community, and to every community who is involved in this, a more accurate, evidence-based assessment of racial bias and police conduct?
HUGHES: Well, of course, I can just say, “Look at the data” until I’m blue in the face, but no one cares, and no one is going to. The type of person who’s going to take my injunction to look at the data seriously isn’t really the problem to begin with. What I do think would work is for national media to allocate equal attention to the white people that die at the hands of the cops as they do to the black people.
What’s happened is that through years of omitting the white cases, the national media has prepared black Americans to respond to a George Floyd-type incident as if our people are being uniquely hunted, and people have responded that way. They took to the streets. It’s an understandable response, given what they falsely believe to be the case.
If it really was the case that overwhelmingly black people are getting shot by the cops unarmed, and it’s not happening to anyone else, or it’s happening at such a disproportion as to be clearly motivated by racial bias, you can understand how someone would take to the streets in that kind of situation. The problem is it’s not true, and the national media has been very complicit in abetting this untruth because no one wants to be the guy saying, “Actually, the same thing happened to a white guy two months ago, and nobody even talked about it.” Nobody wants to be that guy, whatever it means to be that guy. So, people just go on believing the lie.
DW: Some people on the Right will reflexively react to talk of police brutality by citing black crime statistics, and they may also become sort of defensive. While it’s certainly appropriate to note those statistics, there’s a place when one should choose to change their focus. What can conservatives do in this situation to move the conversation forward rather than have it just remain static?
HUGHES: Well, I’ve noticed the tendency on the Right to – well, I guess you can see this through the difference between Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter, for better or for worse, even if its sort of central premise is untrue, it’s a movement that has specific demands, some of which are reasonable, many of which are unreasonable. But it’s a movement. All Lives Matter was never a movement. It was always just a slogan, whereas Black Lives Matter was both a slogan and a movement, which is to say there is no colorblind movement to reform police on a major scale in this country. It doesn’t exist. The only major movement to reform the police is a racialized movement, namely Black Lives Matter.
So I think what conservatives could do is say, “Listen, we agree with you police lack accountability.” Frankly, I think the vast majority of conservatives were absolutely horrified at the video showing Derek Chauvin killing George Floyd.
My sense is that conservatives ought to be more willing to acknowledge that there are problems with police, to begin with, even if they don’t agree that the problem is racism. I don’t think racism is the central problem with the police. I think it’s a small and ancillary problem. I think the problems are accountability mainly, accountability and a very small applicant pool that sometimes hires low-quality applicants. This is what the former NYPD commissioner said. He said that often police departments, the problem is they hire their problems because very few people want to be police relative to how many police the country needs. So by definition, you get lower-quality candidates.
One thing I worry about is with all of the demonization of police, it will become an even less attractive and lower-status profession than it is now, which means the type of people who end up as cops will end up being lower-quality cops. Then it becomes a vicious cycle.
But yeah, I would say two things. One is, let’s make All Lives Matter from just a slogan into an actual movement that people could care about. Then, I do think it is very legitimate to talk about black-on-black crime. On the one hand, if we’re talking about police brutality, it is sort of changing the subject to talk about black-on-black crime, but it’s also not changing the subject in another way because first of all, Black Lives Matter is not just a movement concerned with police. We shouldn’t forget that the thing that inaugurated the movement was George Zimmerman, who was a civilian who killed Trayvon Martin – and Ahmaud Arbery a few months ago was killed by a civilian.
Black Lives Matter very much cares about white-on-black homicides, even when police are not involved. So it is legitimate to ask why they have been deafeningly silent on the much larger problem of black-on-black homicide. I think it’s legitimate to ask why, in the era when a movement literally called Black Lives Matter, why in this era, we can’t have a national conversation around the leading cause of death for young black men, which is homicide overwhelmingly caused by other black men. So it is legitimate to bring it up, but you also have to engage the issue on its own terms. So if we’re going to talk about police, it’s legitimate to only want to talk about police at least for some of the time.
DW: What are the real problems we’re seeing in policing based on the evidence, and what do you believe can be done to implement changes to correct those problems? We saw major legislation passed in Colorado recently to this effect.
HUGHES: One thing is lack of training. There’s been a few things pointed out about how certain careers that are really not life and death at all, like bakery or some stuff like that, has a longer training period than becoming a cop. So it would make sense to make sure that cops are trained sufficiently.
I think cops are overworked. I’ve seen reports from one department in Massachusetts that many cops were working 80-hour work weeks because they get overtime. So there’s an incentive for them to do it, and there’s a demand, and there’s an insufficient supply of cops. So of course, what that means is the under-slept cop is probably more likely to be a d*ck, to be rude, to provoke a suspect into resisting arrest. Whatever level of racial bias he or she has when they’re well-slept is probably one degree worse.
Then there’s, of course, the problem with accountability and police unions. This is a problem I think that conservatives should, and often do, have the right opinion about because if you were to ask people what they think of unions in general, it is generally the Left that defends unions at all costs as if they are somehow always magically aligned with the interests of the general public. Whereas it’s generally been conservatives that have understood unions as self-interested groups that will protect their own members at all costs. Teachers’ unions are not called “students’ unions” for a reason. One should not assume that what they do is somehow in the interest of students. It’s generally been the Right that has been on the correct side of that issue, in my opinion.
It’s good to see the Left coming around to that understanding of police unions now, but I think that’s something that the Right and the Left at this point should be able to agree about, that police unions protect their own at all costs, and don’t, in general, pursue policies that are in the best interest of the public. So, increasing accountability somehow would, I think, be the smartest move going forward.
None of the reforms I just mentioned really involve defunding. I think defunding is a bizarre focus. If you were to say that public schools are broken, your first thought about how to fix them wouldn’t necessarily be, “Well, let’s just take money away and divert it to other things.” Often, making an institution better might require that you invest more money in it. So I think that’s really a misplaced focus.
DW: What advice would you give to someone who maybe wants to make inroads with their friends or family with this argument, and in this environment, but their family and friends are simply repeating the media talking points?
HUGHES: I wish I had good advice to give there. I mean, honestly, I think picking your battles is a good piece of advice. Know when to not talk about politics because you know it’s going to end poorly. Truth is, often it’s not the case that there’s some right move that you can make that will steer the conversation in a productive direction. Often, the wise thing to do is to not have the conversation at this moment. But whatever you can do to understand their perspective on their terms, and to show them that you get what they’re saying before giving your reasons why you disagree, always whatever you can do on that front tends to go a long way.
People often can tolerate a deep disagreement, even at a time like this when so much seems to be at stake about how good of a person you are based on the disagreement. People can usually tolerate disagreement if they feel like they are heard. It requires a little bit of work to show someone that you’re hearing them. You can’t just do it in three seconds and then get on to the thing you wanted to say. That’s my advice, in general. It’s not unlike the advice a marriage counselor would give to a couple having a marital disagreement.
DW: Is there a legitimacy to the idea that past discrimination, such as redlining, discriminatory loans, and other past racist practices have led to sort of a cultural hole that the black community can’t climb out of?
HUGHES: Yeah. I think it would be very strange if the whole sum of white supremacy from 1619 on up through the civil rights movement had zero negative impact on the circumstances of black people in 2020. I mean, that’d be extremely unlikely.
Of course, then there’s the further question of how much does that explain about, say, the racial wealth gap or racial crime gap. I think many people would like it to be true that the history of white supremacy is the monocausal explanation for racial disparity in 2020. But if that’s what you think, I would ask you, why is it the case that, for example, Jewish Americans have multiple times the wealth on average that conservative Protestants do when the whole history of this country has been tilted more in favor of Protestantism than Judaism?
Why is it that different ethnicities of black people, why is it that Nigerians have so much higher incomes than Haitians, for example? They’re both black. White America can hardly tell them apart, and yet you see huge income differences. You see huge income differences between different ethnicities of white Americans. You compare white Americans of Russian descent to white Americans of French descent, you find something like a 30 cent on the dollar gap between the two in terms of income. What explains that?
What I’m getting at is that disparities, and often large ones, are actually the norm in multiethnic societies, not some exception that needs to be explained, because different groups are trailing different histories, different cultures, different values, different patterns of occupation, different geographies, just where they live and what it means to have a dollar here versus there, different levels of education. So even without the history of white supremacy, it’s far from clear that there would be no racial disparity.
DW: What are your thoughts on Trump’s executive order on police reform?
HUGHES: My opinion of Trump’s executive order is mixed. I think on the one hand, it makes sense for the federal government to incentivize local and state police forces to abide by a set of regulations that are standardized at the national level. At the same time, I’m not sure the specific proposals all make sense – and I would want more input from law enforcement communities and experts with regard to what specific policies those should be.
So for example, the idea that we should ban a choke hold sounds perfectly sane and obvious the first time you think of it, but I’ve also seen footage of professional martial artists analyzing footage in which police officers use choke holds and explaining that, actually, choke holds are much safer than, for example, Tasers. There’s a certain kind of choke hold where your arm is only touching the sides of the neck, not the windpipe, and this constricts blood flow to the brain in a way that can make you unconscious without actually doing any damage to your windpipe. If you compare that to a Taser, you know, a taser makes your entire body go limp, and then you fall to the ground, and there’s nothing between your head and the concrete on the ground to break your fall. People die from Tasers. So relative to that, it might actually make sense to keep a certain kind of choke hold in play. So, I do worry about that, but in general, I support the idea of a federal standard for local and state police departments.
DW: Some believe that Derek Chauvin has been overcharged, and as a result, he’ll be let off. Then with the incident in Georgia, the officer was charged with felony murder, which will almost certainly result in an acquittal because that seems to be a somewhat ridiculous charge given what took place. What are your thoughts on Chauvin’s charge, as well as the speed with which the officer in Georgia was slapped with what many view as an obscene overcharge, and what would happen in the aftermath of them not being convicted?
HUGHES: I worry about this a lot. To some people, it seems absolutely obvious that Derek Chauvin was intending, in the legal sense of the word, to kill George Floyd. I’m not a legal expert, but a certain degree of murder charge requires – what differentiates it from the lower degree is the intent to kill. I would say one thing if you think that. Watch the video of officers killing Tony Timpa in 2016. The reason it’s so important that you watch the video, if you believe Chauvin must have intended to kill [Floyd], is that the officers who killed Tony Timpa in a very similar way to George Floyd, eerily similar in fact, were surprised to learn they had killed him when the EMT told them he was dead.
What that says is, taking out the variable of race, it’s possible for a cop to hold someone down under their knee, think the person has gone unconscious, but is otherwise completely alive, and then it turn out to be the case that they die. So we don’t know whether he was intending.
That comes across to people like somehow it’s a defense of what he did. It’s not. What he did was horrible, and it was completely incompetent and cruel. But whether it rises to – the need to have it meet the criteria for intentional murder seems strange to me.
In the Georgia case, this dude was attacking cops. He was punching them, reaching for their Taser successfully, and then firing the Taser. I’m not saying chasing him was the smartest move. It’s possible that a wiser cop would have said, “Let him go for now. We have his information. We’ll get him at a time when he’s not resisting.” But that’s a separate question from whether that was an illegitimate use of force. I’m fairly sure that it was department policy that you can use your gun in self-defense or to prevent a suspect from fleeing. Let’s not pretend that this was somehow a murder, certainly an intentional murder.
So I’m worried about what happens if they get acquitted because many people just don’t view the American justice system as legitimate, so that the outcomes are just viewed as not worthy of respect.
We may see riots again destroying the communities that rioters are allegedly standing up for, destroying the mom and pop shops, many not owned by white people – that’s the sort of thing that creates the very cycle of unemployment and poverty that the rioters are allegedly protesting to begin with. So I do very much worry for the state of affairs.
DW: Do you think we are, as a society, at a tipping point from which there might not be a return, or is there a way we can find our way back from what we’ve been experiencing?
HUGHES: I’m not sure. I think so long as there is a widespread and deeply felt perception that the police are racist, and so long as people believe that brutality and injustice happens overwhelmingly to black people, I think we’re liable to see riots every summer. I don’t know how we change that narrative, but it doesn’t look good right now.
DW: My last question is an open-ended one. Is there something we haven’t touched on in this interview, or you haven’t spoken about in another interview, that you would want our readership, which is predominantly conservative, to know about this issue?
HUGHES: I think regardless of whether racial bias is the reason why black people attract disproportionate police attention, it’s important to acknowledge that black people do in fact attract disproportionate police attention.
Most of the people who get pulled over by the cops, most of the people got stopped and frisked in New York, weren’t doing anything wrong. I think it’s important to acknowledge that, given the fact that it’s humiliating to be manhandled and arrested by the cops, especially when you know you haven’t done anything wrong, and given that that humiliation has fallen more on black people for understandable reasons, given crime rates, but nevertheless, acknowledging that can go part of the way to showing someone who disagrees with you that you understand where they’re coming from – and that doesn’t guarantee that you have a productive conversation about this issue because it’s a very tough issue, but it’s worth acknowledging that.
The Daily Wire would like to thank Coleman Hughes for taking the time to speak about these pressing issues. For more information, you can follow Hughes on Twitter and YouTube, or go directly to his website here.
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