The New York Times riots

I try to keep this blog non-political, so I am just going to offer a few facts and observations that are orthogonal to the media coverage.

Fifteen unarmed black men were killed by the police in 2019 in the US. (Compared to 25 unarmed white men.) [1]
Unarmed is a somewhat poor proxy for harmless or innocent. If George Floyd is representative even these unarmed victims are ex-cons for armed robbery, high on fentanyl and trying to pay with counterfeit money. Which doesn’t mean they should be killed, but it does mean that their fate does not allow generalization to the non-criminal population.

Given that mostly armed criminals are shot by the police, you can’t take over representation compared to the population as indication of police bias. Instead you have to compare the number fatal shootings with the percentage of violent criminals of each racial group. Given that African Americans commit roughly half of all violent crimes in the US, despite being only 13% of the population [2], it is pretty astounding that they only account for 25% of the victims of police shootings.

The number of 15 killed unarmed black men and even the total number of 236 black men being shot by the police in 2019, is dwarfed by the 20.000 black victims of the Corona virus. The protests will almost certainly kill more innocent African Americans via increased virus transmission than the police would kill in the next couple of decades.

Of course one also has to consider the aim of the protests to reduce racism in the US. If there is one way to reduce racism in the US, it’s to provide a ton of videos of black men vandalizing and looting stores with the occasional assault on white people thrown in. Now that’s for sure.

The trend in police shootings of black men has been 258, 234, 224, 229, 236 from 2015 to 2019, so nothing really changed. If we observe some kind of trend coming to a head and leading to widespread violence, looting and burning, it must be some other trend …

By Zach Goldberg
By Zach Goldberg

[1] Washington Post police shooting database

[2] Wikipedia – race and crime

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