• Jorge Velasco

OPINION: The Falsehoods Of Systemic Racism.

An increasingly divisive nature across America has eradicated the uniting message to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic. What seemed to somewhat heal the nation's partisan warfare was torn down by the outrage of George Floyd's brutal and savage murder. Over the course of two weeks, America's status quo has been pushed back and forth to try and "point out" the errors in our criminal justice system. Mass protests have become paradoxical and Floyd's inexcusable death has been exploited by the millions.

Protestors have dumbfounded themselves in their underlying theme to drive up activists by the thousands. Never mind the political theme, for now. "Flatten the curve", "Just because restrictions loosen doesn't mean you shouldn't go out", "Social distance", they said. Lectured by the masses who "did their part" now claim the moral high ground for "taking action", amidst rising coronavirus cases. But said protestors would say I'd be missing the point to deflect their double standard.

Nevertheless, the inexplicable rioting, leading to the destruction of multiple small businesses in spite of an already beaten-down economy, doesn't necessarily represent peaceful protestors, but rather visualizes a manipulative movement. Perhaps crocodile tears coming from now all-of-a-sudden outraged rejectionists unaware of the hard facts could have their point of view challenged.

But the discourse is twofold. In the policing system, there are bound to be some "bad apples" unworthy of executing their job rightfully. Surely, however, peaceful protesters turned looters who want to have George Floyd's legacy live on in the name of "fixing the broken criminal justice system" also seem to share the unjustified perspective. It takes two to tango.

The said "broken criminal justice system" has been a prime talking point for Black Lives Matter as well as other movements and outspoken critics of the president. But various statistics tend to debunk this myth. According to Heather Mac Donald, African American victims represent an extremely microscopic murder rate in the U.S:

In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, 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.

But as we all aim for equality, isn't it necessary for activist groups fighting to rectify systematic racism in the U.S acknowledge all human beings?

For example, among the 19 unarmed whites killed last year by police was a couple in Houston during a bungled drug raid. There were no riots or protests for the two officers who were indicted for tampering evidence.

If equality was key to achieving BLM's message, where has their voice been when Los Angeles saw a 250% spike in homicides and 56% in shootings last week; the peak of George Floyd protests and riots? In Chicago, when 18 people were murdered; the deadliest day in 60 years?

This sanctions an already racist, ineffectual ploy that enables systematic racism. Wrong. Individuals commit crimes, and criminals are not equally dispersed by race. Jill Loevy of the Los Angeles Times writes that racial disparity in crime has existed for decades:

Historians have traced disproportionately high black homicide rates all the way back to the late nineteenth century, and in the early twentieth, ‘nonwhite’ homicide rates exceeded those of whites in all cities that reported federal data.

Loevy continues with important statistics:

During the 1920s, the black homicide death rate was seven times higher than that of whites.

During the 1940s, that rate was 12 times higher for blacks than whites.

In the 1960s and 70s, the black homicide death rate “remained as much as ten times higher than the white rate."

For the last three decades, it has “been five to seven times higher."

And the age of mass incarceration? Preventing crime does not happen when mass incarceration ends. It happens when we incarcerate criminals. From 1990 to 2009, “homicide, robbery, and burglary [fell] an astounding 80 percent.” From 1993 to 2014, the number of violent crime victimizations dropped precipitously, according to the Justice Department — from 79.8 victimizations per 1,000 people to 20.1 in 2014. As a result, crime crumbled.

Major metropolitan areas increased their police forces dramatically. From 1994 to 2000, under the crime policy of President Bill Clinton and mirrored on state and local levels, America added 70,000 police officers. Similarly, across the country, authorities began increasing sentencing, instituting mandatory minimums, and doing away with parole for multiple-time offenders. The crackdown on the crack epidemic meant more arrests. Prison populations soared, but crime declined dramatically.

And Bureau of Justice statistics say that blacks are now seeing imprisonment rates drop significantly:

The black imprisonment rate has been down 28% from 2008-2018, while the white imprisonment rate dropped by just 13%. The jail incarceration rate for black criminals dropped 30% – to the lowest level since 1990 – while the white incarceration rate actually increased 12% over the past decade.

Once criminals are released, statistics point out that it is inevitable that a majority of said criminals will go back to crime. After the Bureau of Justice Statistics tracked 400,000 released prisoners in 2005, here's what they found:

  • Within three years, 67.8% were arrested again.

  • Within five years, that number rose to 76.6%.

  • Well over 80% of property offenders went back to crime, as did 76.9% of drug offenders and 71.3% of violent offenders.

Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland reported an interesting counterfactual when addressing racial disparity within the U.S:

We did not find evidence for anti-Black or anti-Hispanic disparity in police use of force across all shootings, and, if anything, found anti-White disparities when controlling for race-specific crime.[...] officers are less likely to fatally shoot Black civilians for fear of public and legal reprisals"[...] “all else equal, this would increase the likelihood that a person fatally shot was White vs. Black.

But do black lives matter when it does not advance BLM's large falsehood of a "broken criminal justice system"? It's crucial to note that, out of the 7,407 black homicides in 2018, the vast majority of victims were killed by black criminals; 88.9% of black homicide victims were killed by black criminals. Another true disparity of the justice system is addressing how black people are killed by homicide eight times the rate of white people.

For years, isolated incidents have been taken advantage of to push for a broad policy change. The misnomered narrative that black people have been mistreated by the justice system can be easily broken down by crime rates, something that cannot be adjusted:

Despite composing 12% of the population, they compose 55% of the homicide offenders and 53% of the homicide victims. Black males, in particular, accounted for 45% of homicides, even though they make up just 7% of the population.

It goes without saying that racism, in all forms, absolutely demands condemnation and must be called out by those who witness it. Yet, it is unequivocally ridiculous to suggest that minority men are being rounded up for little reason by a white-run criminal justice system dedicated to the eradication of a burgeoning minority middle class.

Jorge Velasco is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The National Times.