Bernard Kerik is the former police commissioner of New York City who was in command of the NYPD on September 11, 2001, and led the city’s response, rescue, recovery, and investigative efforts. Ken Blackwell is FRC's Senior Fellow for Human Rights and Constitutional Governance. This article appeared in Breitbart on June 19, 2020.
In recent weeks, Americans have watched radical leftist anarchists and Antifa thugs engage in extreme violence and murder that will haunt many people for the rest of their lives.
Fifteen innocent civilians and two police officers were shot and killed, hundreds of civilians were savagely and brutally beaten, and more than 700 police officers were injured nationwide. Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property was destroyed as businesses and communities in more than 42 states were devastated by arson, looting, and mayhem that activists quickly followed with a call to defund the police.
The supposed justification for the rioting was the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, but in reality the rioters were just exploiting that cause for their own purposes.
Lost in all the savagery was the real life and memory of George Floyd.
With each passing day, both of us asked ourselves the same question: where are the governors and mayors of these cities who took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution of the United States and keep residents safe from harm? Instead of upholding law and order — also known as doing their jobs — they turned a blind eye to the violence while praising the demonstrations that the radicals were using as cover.
Is there truly systemic racism and brutality in our police departments? Are cops killing blacks at disproportionately higher rates than whites? One would have to think so based on the national outrage and calls for change by local, state, and federal political leaders and cultural elites. Surely, the 250 U.S. Fortune 100 corporations that have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to Black Lives Matter and other organizations to stop racial injustices must have real evidence of such widespread racial injustice? You would think so, but they don’t.
For clarity, we took a look at the Washington Post database that documents suspects shot and killed by the police. The database indicates that 1,003 people were shot and killed by the police in 2019. This occurred in a country of 328 million people, in a year during which police had approximately 30 million contacts with members of the public, and made approximately 10 million arrests — 600,000 of which were for violent crimes.
Of the 1,003 people killed by police last year, 405 were white, 250 were black, 163 were Hispanic, and 185 were recorded as other/unknown ethnicity. Only 55 of those 1,003 individuals were unarmed — 25 white suspects, 14 black suspects, 11 Hispanic suspects, and five others.
In another category that often gets a lot of attention from activist groups screaming about racial injustice, 29 of those killed by police in 2019 possessed a toy gun — 14 of them were white, 6 were black, 4 were Hispanic, and 5 were of unknown ethnicity.
To be clear, whether they were armed, or unarmed, or in possession of a toy that looked like a real weapon, in every single category, blacks were not killed more often than whites. Given the numbers — 14 unarmed blacks killed out of 10 million arrests, which equates to a rate of 0.00014 percent — this is NOT evidence of systemic racism.
The real systemic and deadly reality is that black men and women are being slaughtered in cities and communities of color around the country in numbers that can only compare to war zones in Iraq or Syria — and every single one of those cities has been run by Democrats, in some cases for as long as 40 years.
Recently in Chicago, 18 people were shot and killed within 24 hours, the deadliest day in the last 60 years. Another 21 people were shot dead in St. Louis over a recent weekend, and 7 people were shot and killed in Brooklyn in a matter of 10 minutes.
Between 2015 and 2018, Baltimore averaged 330 homicides per year in a city of 550,000. In 2019, there were 348 murders, and 2020 is already on pace to be equally deadly.
Many of the mayors and police chiefs in those cities are black, and their officers are representative of the communities they serve. However, the second that a black man dies in police custody, left-leaning activists and politicians begin calling for sweeping reforms to combat the bogeyman of racial inequality, even when they know perfectly well that the death does not reflect a systemic problem. If black lives truly mattered to liberals, they would be marching in Chicago, St. Louis, Baltimore, or any of the other cities with unacceptably high rates of violent crime and murder.
There are many pundits and politicians ignoring the glaring reality of mass black murders, because they are convinced it’s never going to change. However, we would urge them to look at the renaissance that took place in New York City under mayor Rudolph Giuliani, which taught us many lessons — the most important of which was that no one wants to go to school or live or work or visit a place where they do not feel safe.
When Giuliani took over New York City in 1994, it was the murder capital of the world. The streets were infested with filth and garbage, mothers put their babies to bed in bathtubs to protect them from random gunfire, and decent people lived in more or less constant fear.
Giuliani’s initial focus was not jobs, schools, or social welfare programs. His primary focus was crime reduction, but for every percentage point we reduced violent crime and murder in the city, we saw corresponding increases in economic development, real estate values, and tourism, along with encouraging reductions in the welfare rolls.
At the end of Giuliani’s eight years in office, we achieved a 63 percent reduction in violent crime and a 70 percent reduction in murder. In some of the most crime-infested areas of the city — many of which were communities of color — the murder rate dropped by close to 80 percent. Thousands of black lives were saved during those years, and that trend continued when Michael Bloomberg was mayor because Bloomberg maintained many of the most effective policies we had put in place.
So the question today is, why are so many Democrat-run cities still facing rampant poverty, violent crime, and murder? Is it intentional, or is it incompetence? Either way, young black men and women are being slaughtered and nobody seems to be doing anything about it — nobody even seems to care.
America’s mayors and governors are coddling criminals, villainizing cops, and victimizing the thugs — and in the meantime, black lives are being lost.
President Trump issued an executive order implementing common-sense policing reforms, and the Republican-controlled Senate is drafting legislation to follow suit. The sad reality, however, is that until mayors and governors call out the thugs who are assaulting and attacking police officers, resisting arrest or interfering with an arrest, and committing acts of wanton violence and vandalism, the underlying problems in our cities will continue unabated. If the Democrats get their way and diminish or defund the police, then the ones who suffer most will be those who live in communities of color where the violent crime and murder rates are already out of control.
The Democratic Party has destroyed communities of color all over the country, and it’s long past time for new leadership. It’s time to give Republicans a chance — after all, what do we have to lose?