Murder By Media: They Find Their Trump-Katrina - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Murder By Media: They Find Their Trump-Katrina
Protesters setting fires in Minneapolis on May 29 (YouTube screenshot)

At last, the leftist mainstream media believe — they may be proven correct — they can pin the Katrina label on Trump, after they failed to do it with the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is a sampling of their efforts.

Addressing the central complaint of the marchers, Manhattan Institute scholar Heather Mac Donald debunks once again the assertion that police target blacks, confirmed by a May 4 FBI press release:

In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.

The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019 … down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18 ½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.

Mac Donald cites an awesome number: Police nationwide now have 375 million annual contacts with civilians. A thousand shootings equals one shooting per 375,000 encounters. This works out to less than one thousandth of 1 percent of civilian contacts ending in a police shooting.

A Wall Street Journal op-ed by two law professors argues that the problem is rooted in failure to discipline a small coterie of rogue officers. This also is confirmed by the FBI press release. Details (some categories combined for ease of comparison) here clarify matters. Several breakdowns of the 48 officers killed in the line of duty in 2019 pertain to our analysis: (a) ethnic – 40 white, seven black, one Asian; (b) geographic – 27 South, nine West, nine Midwest, one Northeast, two Puerto Rico; (c) suspect status – 36 had criminal records, with 12 of these under judicial supervision at the time of the offense; (d) weapons – firearms were used to kill 44 of the 48: 34 handguns, eight long guns, two unknown; (e) circumstances – 15 during investigations or street law enforcement; 10 in tactical situations (hostage, barricades, search/arrest warrants or court order); six in solo or aiding pursuit of suspects; seven in unprovoked attacks; four responding to crimes in progress; three responding to domestic disturbances. These numbers reveal regional but no ethnic bias.

Thus, the law professors cited above seem to be correct in judging the problem to be a small group of rotten apples — with a regional focus on the South also indicated.

The Wall Street Journal’s Dan Henninger sees 2020 as worse than the awful revolutionary year of 1968.The Left uses the canard of “systemic racism” as a substitute for the harsh reality of 55 years — and trillions of dollars — of policy failure:

This is worse than 1968, because the political system is now engaged in a systemic act of forgetting. Lets forget that this policy failure has happened or why. Lets forget, for instance, that the people living in New Yorks public housing are overrun with rats, unlit hallways and no heat in the winter. Lets forget that many blacks have indeed been left behind — by a well-documented migration since 1990 of black Americans out of northern cities and Los Angeles into the South, where they have gone in search of economic opportunity. Lets forget, despite a massive per annum outlay on Medicaid — some $593 billion in 2018 — that black Americans still have a higher incidence of chronic disease.

Simply performing a cut-and-paste on 50 years of U.S. political history is an act of nihilism. Pummeled by activists and the media with constant accusations of systemic racism,” as this week, and despite what many thought were 50 years of good-faith efforts on racial conciliation, people go numb, concluding that the solution being offered now is, literally, no solution.

Amidst all this, the president has been paralyzed by the specter of Hurricane Katrina, what I’ve called the “Katrina Conundrum”: legal authority in the wake of disasters rests mostly with the states, but voters will hold the president accountable, win or lose. Citations of federal troops sent to recalcitrant Southern states during the civil rights face-off with Southern segregationists are misplaced. Then, the feds confronted what amounted to a rebellion by several Southern states, with myriad local authorities complicit in segregationist violence against blacks. Now, the feds would be intervening in states not openly defiant of federal law, but simply failing to control lawless violence, for want of resolve — or, worse, ideological sympathy with anti-police rioters. Were the feds to wind up exchanging gunfire with the locals, they would be widely perceived as acting like a dictatorship.

Illustrating this danger, D.C. mayor Muriel Bowser is challenging the president’s right to use military troops in D.C. to restore order, as violating her jurisdictional prerogatives under D.C. Home Rule. (Trump has some leeway here he lacks elsewhere: D.C. is the seat of the federal government, controlled by the feds, and outside the Beltway many Americans regard those inside the nation’s capital as residing in a foreign country.)

For Minneapolis, 2020 was, per Yogi Berra’s famous line, “déjà vu all over again.” In 1967, the summer of 159 nationwide race riots, Minneapolis burned for three days. While racially restrictive covenants and numerous discriminatory practices were blamed, this was cold comfort for those whose property was destroyed.

The terror rioters caused many to feel is captured in this harrowing account by the New York Post’s op-ed editor Sohrab Ahmari of rampaging packs in midtown Manhattan. He writes, “A protest it wasn’t. It was the night human savagery smashed the Big Apple.” For barbarity, it is hard to top this sickening posting showing looters — female — outside a Minneapolis Target store violently attacking a woman in a wheelchair. A London protest video (5:10) perfectly captures the media double standard overseas, observed equally in the United States. These accounts raise anew the question increasingly being asked: What happened to lockdowns and social distancing?

Emerging evidence indicates that not only are the looters often mostly from out of town — an estimated 95 percent in the case of Santa Monica — but they are being paid to loot, targeting high-end shops to resell for profit. They show up in SUVs, with duffel bags stuffed with needed gear, hardly a spontaneous expression of anger at perceived racial injustice.

Media dishonesty extends even to depicting an owner who defended life and property from assault, as perpetrators of a hate crime against the assailant. CNN misreported the White House’s ejection of rambunctious protesters from Lafayette Square as akin to China’s mass murder of thousands of peaceful protesters in Tiananmen Square. CNN’s Chris Cuomo gave us this classic: “Please, show me where it says protesters are supposed to be polite and peaceful.” OK, Chris, we’ll give you the point re: “polite.” Protests can be vigorous, with caustic rhetoric — in the Supreme Court’s famed phrase from 1964’s NY Times v. Sullivan, “uninhibited, robust and wide open.” But “peaceful” goes to our side, per the pertinent text of the First Amendment: “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

An open letter to the protesters asks them to cease clogging the streets, as their message has been heard; their movement has been hijacked by violent elements who seek revolution, not justice. Ominously, but quite possibly correct, the writer also warns, “As for indictments and charges, prosecutorial overreach will almost guarantee a prosecutorial loss. Defense lawyers will feast on hastily crafted indictments.” Consider these depressing courtroom realities: One never knows what a jury will do. Multiple defendants, with likely different levels of culpability (the three cops who did nothing to stop their colleague from asphyxiating the victim), offer an invitation to a split verdict. With a unanimous verdict required for conviction, a single holdout juror can force a hung jury, which will be treated by the media and hence received by millions of viewers as a grave defeat for justice.

Or a juror agrees to convict the main defendant, but bargains for acquittal of one or more lesser defendants. Such negotiating for a compromise verdict is not supposed to occur, but its reality is universally acknowledged by the trial bar (and non-trial lawyers as well). Given the demographics of Minneapolis — the 2019 estimate is 60 percent white, 20 percent black, 10 percent Hispanic, and 10 percent other — the jury panel could easily be half white.

Star terror prosecutor Andy McCarthy also sees acquittal likely on some charges filed. Prosecutors filed an amended complaint adding a “felony murder” charge — in legal terms, this means that the victim dies during the commission of a felonious act, an “underlying felony.” Examples are the accidental killing of an innocent person during a bank robbery and killing someone while committing arson, burglary, or other specified violent felonies. The rationale is that when one embarks consciously upon a course of conduct that exposes everyone involved to risk of death, all bad consequences should fall upon the person who does so.

The problem here, as McCarthy explains, is that the course of conduct the police had embarked on — arresting a violator — is lawful:

The second-degree murder charge is now the main charge against all four officers. Essentially, the theory is that they committed a felony assault when they subdued a suspect who was resisting arrest. During the course of carrying out that crime,” prosecutors allege, Floyds death resulted.

While the point may be subtle, this is saliently different from the theory of third-degree murder — i.e., depraved-indifference murder. In the latter, prosecutors would concede that it was lawful in principle for the police to subdue Floyd, but argue (correctly) that their manner of doing so was recklessly indifferent to human life, causing his death. By contrast, the new felony murder” count, spearheaded by Keith Ellison, the radical leftist state attorney general, puts police on notice that they can be charged with a crime — felony assault — for doing their job, which routinely involves physically restraining suspects who resist lawful commands.

Any experienced law-enforcement officer will tell you that it is common for suspects to resist arrest by lying on the ground, claiming to be ill, waving their arms to avoid being cuffed, and refusing to be placed in a squad car. Cops, of course, may not use excessive force when that happens. They must, however, be permitted to use sufficiently superior force to detain and transport uncooperative arrestees. In Minnesota, thanks to its election of the new breed of progressive prosecutor who rails against the justice systems purported institutional racism, police officers who use force in arresting dangerous criminals now run the risk that they will be the ones who face criminal charges.

I urge all to read McCarthy’s piece and see more of the hash that mob pressure and an ideological prosecutor with an anti-cop agenda has produced. Non-lawyers will have to proceed with care, but McCarthy’s piece is well worth the effort. It educates all by showing this to be a model of how prosecutors should not bring a case.

The media’s biggest Achilles’ heel is, however, the very videos they show to inflame viewers. As Ben Stein bluntly puts it:

Have you noticed that the overwhelming mass of the looters shown on TV are black? The overwhelming mass of the protesters against racial injustice” are white prosperous-looking young people. Who is missing? Asians. They dont loot. They dont riot. They study and they work. And they get ahead, and they live in nice houses and buy at the stores the looters steal from. Why is that? Could there be some Asian mystery gene that does that? If so, when the Asians take over here, as my late pal Bob Bartley told me, they will not show the kindness to looters and killers of other races that we guilty, stupid whites do. They will crack down like Lee Kuan Yew and like the South Koreans.

So the media who seek to make the riots Trump’s Katrina may ultimately be, in that delicious French–English phrase, “hoist by their own pétard.”

Bottom Line. Media lefties have ginned up a false narrative of pervasive police racism against blacks. They have treated opportunistic looters and anarchist revolutionaries as if they were expressing understandable rage against endemic racial injustice. And now, in league with the mobs in the street — including the peaceful demonstrators — the media have pushed the prosecutors into sloppy, inconsistent indictments that are highly likely to at least partially fail.

Which guarantees more riots, and more destruction.

Fasten your seat belts.

John C. Wohlstetter is author of Sleepwalking With the Bomb (Second edition, 2014).

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