A New York Times’ columnist expressed skepticism about Black Lives Matter talking points in an interview published Wednesday, including the idea of “systemic racial policing.”
“Let’s think about what we mean by ‘systemic,'” Bret Stephens, The New York Times new conservative columnist, told Vox. “Do I think police chiefs, many of which are African-American or Hispanic, wake up and say, ‘Let’s systemically oppress African-American communities?’ No, I don’t. Are there instances in which that happens? I’m sure there are.”
The belief blacks are the victims of “systemic racial policing” is based on anecdotes, rather than facts, Stephens said, adding that since the black community deals with more crime, the police are more likely to be there.
“And you also have an issue where a lot of criminality tragically occurs in African-American communities,” he said. “And police go to where criminality occurs.”
“Problematic policing” happens, but most police officers are dedicated to protecting the lives of black people, Stephens said. The current resistance to police has not helped the issue, he added.
“I think there are instances of problematic policing. But I would agree with (Manhattan Institute scholar) Heather Mac Donald that the police are vital to the preservation of black lives, and I agree with FBI Director James Comey that there’s been something of a ‘Ferguson effect’ — in which the dramatic increase in murders is connected with a culture of [resistance to police],” Stephens said.
Mac Donald has written prolifically about the “Ferguson effect.” The Ferguson effect holds that police officers have backed off from policing in light of anti-police protests and rhetoric. As police step back from policing, violent crime rises, Mac Donald reasons.
“This crime increase, I argue, is due to officers’ reluctance to engage in precisely the proactive policing that has come under relentless attack as racist,” she writes. “…That political message is accompanied by increasing tension on the street, inflamed by the persistent allegation that racist officers are the biggest threat facing young black males today.”
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