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Ivy Leaguers ignore facts, evidence about Ferguson

This past Monday, over one hundred University of Pennsylvania students marched through Philadelphia to protest the grand jury decision in the shooting death of Ferguson, Missouri’s Michael Brown:

Protesters walked in fierce solidarity, responding to the leaders’ chants: “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
“I just don’t want my son, the child of an Ivy League graduate, to walk down the street in fear for his life,” a student who preferred to remain anonymous said at the protest.

This was along the lines of what New York City mayor Bill De Blasio said in reaction to the non-indictment of the officer who used a “chokehold” on (black) victim Eric Garner:

Mr. de Blasio told an audience that he worried over the years if his son Dante would be safe at night before adding, “And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Students at other Ivy League schools have expressed similar sentiments:

“I’m scared to go outside,” [Brianna] Alston said. “This is a real fearful situation for the black community.” (Columbia University)

“Business as usual can’t continue, our frivolities can’t continue while people are dying without reason and impunity,” [Stephanie] Amoako said. (Columbia)

“My brother is turning 20 next month, which means that he is solidifying his presence in a demographic of young black men between the ages of 19-25 in the United States who are disproportionately targeted by police brutality,” Karleh Wilson ’16 explained. “I worry about [my brother’s] safety under the hands of the law. My brother should feel safe among the presence of policemen, but he does not, and this is the same for all men of color his age in America.” (Yale)

A student at Harvard held a placard that read “This is Genocide.”

Nadia May recited a poem about “how she will mother her future children intertwined with commentary on racism and police brutality.” (Cornell)

A frequent refrain heard from “progressives” and Democrats — usually in snide rebuttal to conservatives/Republicans regarding global warming climate change — is that they’re “the party of science,” and the “believers in facts.”

So, is it really a fact that Ms. Alston and the others should be “scared to go outside” for fear of being killed by a police officer?

Compared to many other things out there in society, the answer is “hardly.”

Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly this past week devoted a “Talking Points” segment to this issue. Here is what he noted, with sources from the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, the CDC, the FBI and the Census Bureau:

  • Police killings of blacks down 70% in last 50 years
  • In 2012, 123 blacks were killed by police with a gun
  • In 2012, 326 whites were killed with a gun
  • In 2013, blacks committed 5,375 murders
  • In 2013, whites committed 4,396 murders
  • Whites are 63% of the population blacks are 13%

To be fair, some have taken issue with these statistics. The Tampa Bay Times’ PunditFact site (a subsidiary of PolitiFact) argues that some of the figures are “incomplete” because, for example (in the CDC’s case), “coroners and physicians are under no obligation to detail police involvement in the deaths that they encounter.”

black-white-DryHundredFear.flickrHowever, ironically, PunditFact notes that the “whites killed by police figure” is artificially inflated because it includes Hispanics. But … weren’t we informed by the mainstream media in the Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman incident that Zimmerman was, in fact, a “white Hispanic”?? So … which is it? Do we refer to “white Hispanics” as “white” … or do we keep Hispanics as a separate category?

Then there is The Daily Dot which claims to have “debunked” O’Reilly’s “argument about racism in American policing”:

Secondly, what O’Reilly’s statistics show—but what O’Reilly leaves unsaid—is that black people are killed at disproportionately higher rates than white people by police officers. African Americans are 14 percent of the population but 30 percent of the police-shooting deaths. This is double the rate that one might expect from O’Reilly’s fantasy world in which race is not a factor.

The numbers get even grimmer when narrowed down a bit. Police kill young black men at a rate 21 times higher than the equivalent rate for young white men.

Which, unfortunately, completely omits any reference to vastly disproportionate black murder rate noted above by O’Reilly. It is quite disingenuous to expect “proportionate representation” in law enforcement killings when the (race-based) crime rate isn’t even close to being such.

The mainstream media also doesn’t help matters by omitting virtually identical types of stories … but where the races are reversed. For instance, a Trayvon Martin-like tale involved a (black) man named Roderick Scott. Scott shot and killed seventeen year-old Christopher Cervini, who was white. Cervini and two others were stealing from cars when Scott confronted them. Scott pulled out a gun and told the boys to freeze until police arrived. However, Cervini apparently charged Scott, who then opened fire, killing the teen.

After a trial, Scott was found “not guilty” of manslaughter.

Some of the comments afterwards by Cervini’s family sound awfully familiar:

Cervini’s family members say justice wasn’t served. They say Christopher was murdered in cold blood, that he’d never been in trouble and Scott acted as judge, jury and executioner.

“The message is that we can all go out and get guns and feel anybody that we feel is threatening us and lie about the fact,” said Jim Cervini, Christopher’s father. “My son never threatened anybody. He was a gentle child, his nature was gentle, he was a good person and he was never, ever arrested for anything, and has never been in trouble. He was 16 years and four months old, and he was slaughtered.”

With regards to the Michael Brown case, two years ago a black police officer shot and killed unarmed white teenager Gilbert Collar in Mobile, Alabama. But, “despite public pressure for an indictment, a Mobile County grand jury refused to bring charges against Officer [Trevis] Austin, concluding that the officer acted in self-defense.”

Collar was under the influence of an hallucinogen when taken into custody. He was 5’7″ and weighed a mere 135 pounds. Once at the police station, Collar “began banging on the outside windows, then walked in the general direction of Officer Austin, who had his gun drawn.”

Austin shot Collar in the chest, killing him.

You can argue about the reasons we didn’t hear about these stories; however, many would say it’s because it doesn’t fit the (usual) media narrative.

The “party of science and facts” does itself, and everyone else, a big disservice by continuing to stand by a discredited narrative. Once the facts — science — came forth from the Ferguson grand jury that Michael Brown did not, in fact, have his hands up, supporters promptly stated “it doesn’t matter.”

Recently, DC Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton repeated as much. When asked if she had “read all the evidence” in the Brown case, she replied “I did not, and that is not a concern.”

Further, will the mainstream media heavily cover what Erica Garner said (her father being the aforementioned New York City suspect placed in a chokehold who later died as a result, according to a coroner) this week about her father’s death — that it wasn’t a racial matter? That it was more about general police aggression and misuse of tactics?

Any rational and reasonably intelligent American is cognizant of the historic plight of African-Americans. It is certainly understandable that many in that community harbor a degree of mistrust of police; it wasn’t all that long ago when the law made it a crime for black Americans to even sit at the same lunch counter as whites.

But it does no American — black, white, brown — any good to promote falsehoods which serve to shred the entire American community asunder.

We have competent legal procedures in place to rectify a miscarriage of justice — led by the top law enforcement officer in the land, Eric Holder, a black man. The most recent of these unfortunate police killings  (that of  Eric Garner) appears to be a case where the feds can make a compelling case in the typical follow-up investigation.

Dave Huber is an assistant editor of  The College Fix. (@ColossusRhodey)

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.