“At least 50 journalists in the US have been arrested during Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the US, while dozens of others have also been injured by rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas.
The US Press Freedom Tracker has collected nearly 500 incidents from 382 reports, from the unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing by police in late May, to demonstrations in more than 70 cities across 35 states since.
At least 46 journalists were arrested between the end of May and the beginning of June, according to data collected by the organisation. Dozens of others reported injuries from law enforcement, firing “less lethal” projectiles, tear gas canisters and other weapons into crowds or directly at reporters during demonstrations, even when they had identified themselves and shown credentials, the organisation reports.
Two reporters have suffered permanent eye injuries.”
“A new report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, in collaboration with Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative, identified 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests from May 26 through August 22 at 2,400 locations across the US. An examination of these events found that 93 percent of them remained peaceful while protests at about 220 locations turned “violent” — defined as the destruction of property, and including clashes between protesters and police and counterprotesters. The report also found that in these places the violence was restricted to specific blocks of the city and not widespread.”
“The recent protests against police brutality are some of the largest and most widespread in American history. An estimated 15 million to 26 million Americans have taken to the streets to protest police violence and advocate for Black lives.
The remarkable size and scope of these demonstrations has translated into real policy gains, too. Dozens of state and local police reforms have been enacted since the protests started. And at the federal level, President Trump signed an executive order that outlines his administration’s priorities for police reform, including creating a national database that catalogues police misconduct. The House of Representatives passed an even more ambitious piece of legislation that proposes a series of reforms, like tying federal funding to bans on chokeholds and setting up a task force to address excessive police force, but the GOP-controlled Senate hasn’t taken it up.
Arguably, though, the protests’ impact on public opinion has been even more immediate and wide-ranging. Unfavorable views of the police, acknowledgement of widespread discrimination against African Americans and support for Black Lives Matter all jumped up by at least 10 percentage points, according to tracking polls conducted shortly before and after the protests by both Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape and Civiqs.
These changes in public opinion are being driven in large part by white Americans, who for years have been much less likely than Black Americans to acknowledge that racial inequality remains a real problem. Since the first wave of large-scale Black Lives Matter protests in 2014, white Americans’ racial attitudes have gradually become more liberalized while Black Americans’ views have remained relatively steady.
Trump’s many offensive statements may be contributing to this trend, as they seem to be driving Democrats, particularly white Democrats, to adopt more liberal views on race in response. That’s one reason so many white Democrats showed up at the most recent protests.
But the protests’ impact on public opinion appears to be fading — particularly among white Americans”
“unfavorable views of the police are trending back down toward their pre-protest levels among white Americans and have dipped among Black Americans. White respondents are also becoming somewhat less likely to say that African Americans face “a lot” or “a great deal” of discrimination, though those numbers remain higher than they were before before George Floyd was killed in May. Black Americans’ views on the discrimination they face have remained essentially unchanged.”
“This decline in public opinion is consistent with a long line of political science research that tells us that the effects of events on public opinion tend to last only for as long as they are at the forefront of the country’s — or, in this case, one group’s — collective consciousness. That also means that without prolonged activism and sustained media attention, the impact of this year’s protests on white public opinion could evaporate entirely.”
“We found that after controlling for education, crime, walkability, and many other metrics you might find on Zillow, homes in black neighborhoods are devalued by 23 percent. About $48,000 per home, about $156 billion in lost equity. Now, that’s the money people use to start businesses and to send their kids to college. In fact, that would have paid for more than 4 million black-owned businesses, based on the average startup costs that blacks had to start businesses. They would have funded more than 8 million four-year degrees at a public institution. It’s the money that people use to uplift themselves.
So throughout history, black people have been denied housing opportunities and have been subjected to predatory lending and other unsavory practices that have really disenfranchised them. And so when these police incidents occur, a lot of this frustration comes from not having an ability to influence policy. And a lot of that starts with a lack of homeownership.”
“The devaluation goes beyond housing. We also did a study examining businesses in black communities. To get a sense of the quality, we scraped Yelp data from all businesses and compared those in black-majority communities and in white-majority spaces. We found a similar finding: Businesses owned by people of color in black-majority neighborhoods actually scored higher on Yelp, but received less revenue because of the neighborhood’s perception. People will bypass quality in black neighborhoods simply because it’s the black neighborhood.”
“But here I am now, [and] it’s odd. I mean, I’m still, I can vote for centrist Democrats, but I’m too right of center. I’m definitely not progressive, but, I mean, there’s always overlap. I’ve always thought that the militarization of police has been a bad idea. The drug war has been catastrophic, as far as I can see. I think if states want to legalize [drugs], that’s up to them. I wouldn’t do it, but I’d even say psychedelics should be legal now. But it was weird because when I was at VMI, to [Republicans], I was a libertarian and then I worked with libertarians, and to them I was a statist cuck. You probably get this if you’ve been paying attention to right-wing stuff, but every libertarian agrees on two things: that there’s only one libertarian and it’s them.”
“Watching things like that should help me sympathize with the people rioting last night.
So should my friend Fabian’s experience. When Fabian was 20, he bought his first car, a luxury edition Infiniti J30 Sedan. He’d saved up for it working as an airplane technician, transporting U.S. soldiers to war zones around the world.
Then, while pumping gas back in NYC, police officers approached him, demanding his license and registration.
He produced the documents and showed them that the car was registered in his name. But Fabian is black, and the police would not believe that the car belonged to him. They arrested him and charged him with grand theft auto.
He sat in jail for two days.
Finally, a judge dismissed the case—using the same documentation Fabian had showed the police. They released him—without any apology.
The trauma still haunts him. Fabian says it evokes a sense of helplessness—a fear that “anytime there’s an encounter with law enforcement, getting arrested or even death could be the outcome.”
Yet, as I watch protesters (even two lawyers were arrested) throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers, and I see opportunistic young people looting stores, and my privileged left-wing white friends say things like, “the looting of our society by unrestrained capitalism is worse!” I get even more furious.
This country, and capitalism, has done more good things for disadvantaged people of all races than any society, ever.
Fabian, despite his terrible experience, says that living as a black man in America is a gift. He came here as a teen from Jamaica. America, he says, gave him opportunity he would never have had elsewhere.
Now, he’s a capitalist who owns things.”
“In 2018, as a gunman murdered 17 students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Sgt. Brian Miller, a sheriff’s deputy with the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, hid behind his police cruiser, waiting 10 minutes to radio for help. For his failure to act, Miller was fired. The official cause was “neglect of duty.”
Last month, however, Miller was not only reinstated but given full back pay. His 2017 salary was more than $138,000. Miller had challenged his firing, and, as The Miami Herald reports, he had done so with the full backing of his union.”
“This is what police unions do: defend the narrow interests of police at the expense of public safety. They exist to demand that taxpayers pay for dangerous, and even deadly, negligence. And although they are not the only pathology that affects American policing, they are a key internal influence on police culture, a locus of resistance to improvements designed to reduce police violence. To stop bad cops and police abuse, we must tackle police unions.
In case after case, police unions have defended deadly misdeeds committed by law enforcement. In 2014, for example, New York City police officer Daniel Pantaleo put Eric Garner in a chokehold for selling loose cigarettes. As a result of Pantaleo’s chokehold, Garner died. Garner’s last words were, “I can’t breathe.”
The incident, caught on video, helped galvanize the Black Lives Matter movement. A grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, but five years after Garner’s death, he was fired from the force following a police administrative judge’s ruling that the chokehold was, indeed, a violation of department policy.
Pantaleo had violated his police department’s policy in a way that resulted in the death of a man who was committing the most minor of offenses. Yet when he was finally fired, Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, Pantaleo’s union, criticized the city for giving in to “anti-police extremists” and warned that such decisions threatened the ability of city police to do their jobs. “We are urging all New York City police officers to proceed with the utmost caution in this new reality, in which they may be deemed ‘reckless’ just for doing their job,” Lynch said.”
“Forthcoming research out of the University of Victoria’s economics department finds that the introduction of collective bargaining produces somewhat higher compensation for police officers. It does not correlate with a reduction in total crime—but it does eventually correlate with higher numbers of killings by police, especially of minorities.
In other words, the research finds about what you’d expect given a public sector workforce with unions set up to protect police officer compensation while limiting discipline and oversight. Police get paid more, yet the public is no safer—and it’s even at greater risk of violence by police.”
“consider the case of Camden, New Jersey. For decades, the city was among the most violent in the country, plagued by one of America’s highest murder rates and commensurate levels of property crime. In 2012, with the murder rate approaching record highs, The New York Times reported, police acknowledged “that they have all but ceded these streets to crime.” City officials said the police union was to blame. Union contracts made hiring officers prohibitively expensive. The cops on the payroll were being paid too much and they weren’t getting the job done.
So the city made a novel decision: Fire the police. All of them.
That year, Camden began the process of terminating hundreds of officers and hiring a new force initially made up of less expensive, non-union labor, controlled by the county.
It was a decision meant to address both budget and crime problems. Naturally, the police union opposed the plan, saying it was “definitely a form of union-busting.” City officials, the union said, were relying on a reform that was “unproven and untested,” putting faith in an agency that did not yet exist.
By many measures, however, the unproven and untested new police force worked. After disbanding the city police and reorganizing under the county with lower pay, plus adding focus on rebuilding trust with the community (which is among the nation’s poorest), murders declined. The city is still dangerous compared to some others, but there’s been clear progress in terms of reducing crime and improving community relations. Over the weekend, as residents took to the streets to protest disparate and abusive treatment in black communities, Camden police officers marched with the protesters.”
“Unions aren’t the only problem plaguing American police forces; there are plenty of other reforms worth pursuing, from demilitarization to ending qualified immunity. But they have consistently proven to be a force of organized resistance to calmer, safer, less aggressive policing”
“Police are public servants granted enormous power over the citizenry. They are tasked with protecting the public and serving their interests. Police unions, in contrast, are tasked with protecting police and serving their interests—even in direct contravention of serving the public. That distinction makes them a barrier to reforms aimed at improving public safety and increasing oversight of how law enforcement behaves. If union-busting is what it takes to reduce the pernicious influence of today’s police unions on policing, then it’s time to bust some police unions.”
“Since the 2014 wave of protests in Ferguson, Missouri, the number of black people killed by the police has gone down, according to data from Mapping Police Violence. So has the number of unarmed people of all races killed by police. And the number of unarmed black people killed by law enforcement has seen a sharper decline.
At the same time, activists have changed national media priorities. Once largely ignored, national outlets have begun to cover incidents of police violence more regularly since nearly six years ago when protesters brought the death of Michael Brown Jr. into the national consciousness. When George Floyd died in Minneapolis last week, it dominated media coverage because activism has changed the news agenda. Incidents of violence aren’t increasing — we just hear about them more.”
“there is still a ways to go: Police still disproportionately target black people, and are rarely convicted of crimes in these cases.”
“The huge imminent threat on a practical level is that essentially every state and city in America is on the brink of a budget crisis because of the pandemic.”
“Pile on top of that Trump’s consistently unhelpful rhetorical posture, the increasingly overt partisanship of local police unions, and the countervailing growing popularity of broad anti-police sentiment (as opposed to focused calls for reform) on the left, and the relative good news of the past few years could end up looking like a blip.”