by J. Pharoah Doss, For New Pittsburgh Courier
In 2014, Michael Brown, a Black teenager, was fatally shot by a White police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. This incident led to harsh criticism of police officer training and tactics.
The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, a group with chapters in many cities that works to stop police brutality, put out a study the year before Michael Brown was killed that said, “Police officers, security guards, or self-appointed vigilantes killed at least 312 African-Americans in 2012.”
The study’s conclusion created mass hysteria in Black communities by stating: A Black person was killed by police officers or security forces every 28 hours.
Michael Brown’s shooting confirmed the hysteria. Rioting erupted in Ferguson, and there were nationwide protests condemning the police. But a narrative ensued that grossly overestimated the number of Black people killed by police officers. It was widely believed that police officers shot hundreds of unarmed Black people per year.
Those that were skeptical of the “police killing spree” narrative insisted the biggest problem inside inner-city neighborhoods was Black-on-Black homicides. Black activists, however, scolded the skeptics and told them that “Black-on-Black” crime was either a myth or a misnomer that diverted attention from trigger-happy racist cops targeting Black people.
In 2015, the Washington Post decided to create an annual police-shooting database so the public could track police shootings in real time. WAPO’s police-shooting database revealed that out of 50 million annual police-civilian interactions and 11 million annual arrests, there were approximately 1,000 fatal police shootings per year.
The database also revealed that the majority of the people fatally shot by the police were in possession of weapons, and the majority of the people fatally shot were White, not Black. The total number of unarmed people shot in 2015 was 95, not hundreds like the police-shooting narrative promoted.
The “activist types” should have been relieved that the data disproved the hysteria and there was no “police killing spree.” Except that, of the 95 unarmed people killed by police, 38 were Black and only 31 were White. Many activists used that statistic to support their claim that Black people were more frequently shot by police than White people.
This was when Black Lives Matter activists first started shouting—defund the police.
The next year, Black economist Roland Fryer released a study about police shootings. Fryer examined 1,332 shootings from 2000 to 2015 in 10 major police departments. Fryer called the results of the study the most surprising of his career.
The study revealed that there was no racial bias in police-involved shootings. Blacks are not more likely to be fired upon by police than Whites, Blacks are less likely to be shot at.
Once again, the “activist types” should have been relieved that their narrative about “racist policing” was inaccurate. This was the time for the “activist types” to encourage the police to keep their fatal shooting numbers as low as possible.
But the “activist types” made every effort to debunk the Fryer study instead. They didn’t succeed in refuting Fryer’s results, but they no longer needed to once a Black man named George Floyd was murdered by a White Minneapolis police officer in 2020.
The police killing of George Floyd didn’t negate WAPO’s data or Roland Fryer’s study. There was no evidence racial malice was involved, but the “activist types” used the incident to recreate the previous hysteria about racist police officers on a killing spree.
Apparently, the “activist types” won’t be satisfied until their narrative becomes a reality.
In 2022, WAPO recorded the highest number of police shootings since their database has been in existence, and there’s no hysteria at all.