At present, no organization has more sway in the United States, not just in shaping opinion, but changing behaviors and lives, than Black Lives Matter. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 62% of likely voters now have a “favorable” opinion of BLM. This is almost a reverse of opinion only six months ago.
It is both fascinating and troubling to see this transformation. Fascinating in that, like so many political movements, its emergence usually is the reaction to some larger underlying shift in the national order that the existing parties have failed to address. The Republican Party, for example, was spawned from the growing abolitionist sentiment in the country — one the Southern Democrats vehemently resisted to the point of taking up arms.
But unlike the nascent GOP, Black Lives Matter, the organization that has co-opted the self-evident slogan, is based not just on deception, but outright, demonstrable lies. And even more troubling still is the willingness with which the American people, gutted of any proper historical understanding for generations by failed education, the activist media, and cowardly politicians of both mainstream parties are willing to carry water for this mendacious group.
Consider the genesis of the Black Lives Matter organization itself. On February 26, 2012, 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin was intercepted by George Zimmerman, a man of mixed race, who was the neighborhood watch coordinator for his community. An altercation occurred, Zimmerman claimed Martin attacked him and in the scuffle Zimmerman fatally shot the boy. A tragedy all around, no doubt. Zimmerman was acquitted; he was found to have indeed acted in self-defense. Bowing to national public outcry a federal investigation was launched as well — and it reached the same conclusion. But that did not matter. By then Trayvon Martin had become a household name — a martyr, a symbol of a false narrative laced in fallacious inductive reasoning that it was “open season” on young blacks by non-blacks. The 2013 acquittal inspired a Facebook posting that included the phrase “black lives matter” and the “Movement for Black Lives,” which eventually fell under the catch-all banner “Black Lives Matter,” was born.
The movement was spurred on by the shooting of Michael Brown by police Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. It was widely reported that Wilson shot Brown while the man was helpless, with his hands raised in the air, and pleading “Don’t shoot!” That narrative took hold and spread like wildfire, and soon a terrible untruth began to spread among both the black community as well as white guilt-ridden leftists who are always happy to cheer them on from behind the walls of their all-white enclaves. The storyline went that Brown’s death was emblematic of a widespread problem that black people have confronted for years: brutality and injustice at the hands of systemically racist police. Soon even NFL players got into the act, many striding onto the field with their hands up in a gesture of solidarity.
Once again, the shooter was acquitted. But unlike the Martin case, where some doubts will always linger, the matter of Brown’s demise was a clear case of police self-defense. The Brown as sainted victim narrative was a lie. Brown was six-foot-five, 285 pounds. Al Sharpton, C.E.O. of Race Hustlers, Inc., eulogized him as a “gentle giant.” His family said he didn’t have a violent bone in his body. This would come as a surprise to the store owner trying to prevent Brown from stealing a box of cigars the night he died. When confronted, the stoned (as the autopsy showed) Brown can be seen on surveillance video grabbing the diminutive store owner and slamming him into a shelf.
While walking down the middle of the street soon after, Brown was intercepted by Officer Wilson who pulled up next to him in his squad car. The “gentle giant” then proceeded to reach into the cruiser for Wilson’s gun. Wilson shot him in the hand and then pursued on foot. Brown then turned around and charged the policeman who shot the NFL linebacker-sized man coming straight at him, killing him. More than a half-dozen black onlookers witnessed the episode. Despite enormous pressure to affirm the lie, they agreed Brown never put his hands up, and never said “Don’t Shoot.” An FBI investigation and a Grand Jury each affirmed Officer Wilson’s story. No matter. Benjamin Crump, the Brown (and Martin) family lawyer declared “family and supporters will not be persuaded by the autopsy report or eye-witness statements.” A lawyer really said that. Is it any wonder then that Ferguson erupted in riots based on a lie? President Barack Obama could have dampened the rioters’ anger by making an address supporting the Ferguson police who did no wrong here. Instead he framed the incident as part of wider fears of being guilty of “walking while black.” Healer indeed.
BLM now had its cause…any black man shot by police under any circumstance. It also had its villain: the nation’s 800,000 law enforcement officers. Other incidents followed. In Baltimore in 2015 Freddie Gray was arrested for carrying a knife. He suffered injuries while being transported in the van to central booking, fell into a coma, and died days later. He was heard by witnesses banging the sides of the van and the officers had to restrain him with cuffs and leg shackles. Once again, the arresting officers were cleared by an Obama Justice Department investigation. Again, it did not matter and five days of violence and looting in Baltimore followed in protest of systemic police racism. So what if the arresting officers were black, the Baltimore City Council was almost all black, and the mayor was black?
In 2016 the BLM organization released a 24-page mission statement entitled “A Vision for Black Lives: Policy Demands For Black Power, Freedom and Justice.” Lurking within its many pages, graphics and diagrams one can find its policy goals. Some are generalities like “End the war on black people.” (Given that the vast majority of homicides among black people are carried out by other black people, I’m not exactly sure for whom this message is intended.) But some demands are more substantive, and worrisome:
- Reparations for past and continuing harms. (This includes property as well as cash).
- A reconstruction of the economy to ensure our communities have collective ownership, not merely access.
- Independent black political power and black self-determination in all areas of society. (As in re-segregation?)
And today, of course, this list also includes the very dangerous #DefundThePolice demand.
Martin, Brown, Gray. Although useful, none could be the face of such a movement given the murky circumstances of their deaths. Then came George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin. Anyone who has seen that video should agree that Floyd is a victim of police brutality. It is one thing to draw a gun and open fire in the heat of the moment, where a split-second hesitation could either prevent a tragedy if the target is benign, or send you into the next life if he means you harm. But for over eight minutes, in full view of bystanders and fellow officers who criminally did not intervene, and for all the amateur videographers to get the evidence, Chauvin kneeled on the man’s neck well after he was no longer a threat, despite Floyd’s begging him to stop uttering the now ubiquitous rallying cry “I can’t breathe.” This was murder. Suddenly all the wokeness, the simmering neo-Marxism, the nihilism, and the racism that feeds the BLM movement exploded onto the streets. Enter like clockwork Al Sharpton, to give the man’s eulogy as our city streets burned. In George Floyd, BLM finally had a beatified face to go with the charges of police “open season” on blacks.
This is an inflammatory accusation. And worse, easily debunked with hard data. In fact, the numbers show that widespread, systemic police brutality against blacks, especially unarmed blacks, is a myth. Nevertheless, it is one that BLM, both political parties, the media, even the public seem more than willing to accept — or if they do not accept it, are unwilling to confront the lie.
But here are the facts. And, as John Adams said, “Facts are stubborn things.”
In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops: How the New Attack on Law and Order Makes Everyone Less Safe, sums up the data that is readily available to the curious:
In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans make up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.
The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015…In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.
So, there it is. The cause of the utter chaos in our streets. One-tenth of one percent of blacks murdered in the USA last year. Black lives matter, yes, but apparently some matter a lot more than others. Otherwise we’d know the names of all 7,407 black homicide victims, not just those with political expediency. But we don’t. To paraphrase an old cynical saying attributed to many figures from Erich LeMarque to Josef Stalin: “One death is a tragedy, 7,407 a statistic.”
Still, do these numbers mean the Minneapolis police department, or many others no doubt, is not in need of reform? Of course not. Chauvin had a history of violence both as a cop and his second job as a bouncer, and never should have been on the force. And he should do hard time. However, demanding police reform is a far cry from removing the police altogether. But this, through defunding, is precisely what the Black Lives Matter organization wants.
So how is it, with such a prima facie dangerous agenda, that this organization has become so strong? How has such a radical message become, on the surface at least, mainstream? Because a mob, when uncontested, becomes just more brazen. There is no concerted push-back. Politicians are cowering. The mainstream media, already slightly to the left of Che Guevara, gleefully push the narrative, as sowing racial disharmony has been for decades a technique the Democrat Party uses to retain power. And since the media is now but an arm of that Democrat Party, this serves both interests well. Taking a step further, BLM, too, is now an extension of that political party. So a cynical and nationally destructive symbiosis has emerged.
Why do I equate BLM with the Democrat Party? Because they are, literally, cyber-linked. Go to the Black Lives Matter website homepage and click “Donate.” That takes one to an organization called ActBlue, a registered 501 c3 non-profit Political Action Committee. So donations to BLM will go into ActBlue. Now, under terms and conditions, there is a fine print section which states that ActBlue adheres to Campaign Finance laws.
Question: If a donation goes to a cause to ostensibly support a social movement why are the recipients of said funds required to comply with Campaign Finance restrictions?
Answer: Because the top 10 “causes” of Act Blue were either Democratic candidates (Bernie and Biden being first at over $300 million) or Democratic political committees.
It is said that movements for social justice, religion, and political reform — and this is all three rolled into one — start off as a cause, then become a business, and finally a racket. BLM has reached the racket stage.
So where, then, are the “law & order” Republicans in all this? Remember them? The voices of the great “silent majority”? They are doing what they do best. Offering conservative lip service to their constituents while protecting the established order, and their corporate donors, as much as any Democrat. Democrans and Republicrats. All have bent the knee to the BLM organization that is now a multi-billion dollar political fund-raising machine. Although Democrats still do it best. When my governor, Phil Murphy, who banned graduation ceremonies, public funeral services, and even haircuts for fear of COVID outbreaks, came to our town’s recent BLM protest and spoke before a packed crowd of 1,500 people for whom “social distancing” was a quaint notion, I saw first-hand just what shameless pandering for political points looks like. The image of Murphy, a Goldman Sachs alumnus, taking a knee for “equality” and “social justice” was one until recently only the Onion or Babylon Bee could concoct. But we are down the rabbit hole now. And as such both parties acquiesce to the lie that is tearing our country apart.
Sadly, no group will suffer more for our leaders’ complete abdication of responsibility than the very black lives all involved profess to hold sacred. In New York City, once lauded under GOP mayors Giuliani and Bloomberg as “America’s safest big city,” homicides are up 23% from the first six months of 2019. In the last week of June and first week in July, Chicago’s murders were up 39% compared to the same 2019 weeks. One week in May in Los Angeles saw murders up an astounding 250%. Atlanta, Washington D.C., New Orleans and others have seen similar surges in violent crime.
Adding to the agony, more and more victims are children. In Brooklyn over the July 4th weekend a one-year-old boy was killed by gunfire while resting in his stroller as his family picnicked. He was one of six children, all black, to die in a hail of bullets that weekend. In fact, most of the neighborhoods where the deadly violence has escalated, and those destroyed through arson, vandalism and looting, are minority neighborhoods. Clearly the lives of the 7,000+ black people murdered each year do not matter to these activists. What matters now is that the police have been compelled to all but abandon those who need their protections far more than the left-wing elitist interests feeding the BLM machine.
Brad Schaeffer’s is a commodities trader and author. His articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, National Review, and others. His acclaimed World War Two novel Of Another Time And Place [Post Hill/Simon & Schuster, 2018] is available for purchase or kindle/audible download.