According to its Wikipedia entry (yes, it has a Wikipedia entry), Black Lives Matter’s chief grievance is “police brutality against African Americans in the United States.” The movement also has its own website, which offers little more than sweeping generalizations about what it calls “state violence” against blacks. BLM can hardly be blamed for coming up short on statistics. The whole matter has been reviewed again and again in scholarly publications (see here, for example), and there are simply too many variables to say with confidence that excessive force against blacks is greater than against other ethnicities or to single out a root cause.
There are certainly plenty of data that challenge the perception of widespread racism among the police, such as the fact that three of the six officers who arrested Freddie Gray (whose name is among the group’s rallying cries) were black. More generally, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that the percentage of minority police officers in U.S. local law enforcement agencies doubled between 1987 and 2013. Yet, the number of front page stories about unarmed blacks being killed by police has risen sharply since 2013.
Regardless, BLM continues to make headlines itself, lately by crashing town halls and rallies staged by presidential candidates — and by no means are they limiting their protests to Republicans. They stormed the stage at a Bernie Sanders event, shouted down longshot candidate Martin O’Malley (he subsequently apologize for daring to intimate that non-black lives matter as well), and recently had a stormy exchange with Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.
So who’s next? Who else but Barack Obama.
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He may be the first black president, but he won’t be immune, said #Blacklivesmatter network co-founder Patrisse Cullors in an interview with POLITICO on Martha’s Vineyard, the president’s vacation spot, where she is participating this week in racial-justice panels.
Cullors, a 31-year-old Cullors insists that her network, which has 26 chapters around the country and is growing, won’t back off, even as candidates plea for a chance to be heard. That’s because the protests aren’t aimed only at the candidates, but more so at the predominantly white crowds that come out to see them.
That last statement may well be true, but it will be interesting to see Obama (who, remember, is at least technically half-white) on the hot seat and how he will react. Can you say capitulate?
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