National Anthem Protesters: Here Are the Facts About Police Shootings

Where was the angry left when Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called the national anthem protests “dumb and disrespectful”?

Let’s focus on the “dumb” part.

NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who started the protests, did so over the supposed widespread instances of police brutality against blacks. Kaepernick said, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. … There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.” According to the Centers for Disease Control, since 1968 police killings of blacks have declined nearly 75 percent. According to The Washington Post, almost 500 whites were killed by cops in 2015, an average of more than one a day. Two hundred fifty-nine blacks were killed by the police. Most suspects killed by police had a weapon.

Now for some perspective.

Do you know anyone who has been struck by lightning? Neither do most people. Yet each year an average of about 300 Americans are killed or injured by lightning. That’s approximately 40 more than the number of blacks killed by the police in 2015. Is there an “epidemic” of Americans being struck and injured by lightning? We don’t know the number of black men injured by lightning every year, but let’s assume the number is 7 percent of the total people struck by lightning, mirroring the percentage of the black male population in America. That brings the average number of black men injured by lightning to about 21.

Out of the 965 people killed by the police in 2015 (as of Dec. 24), the Post reported (on Dec. 26) that “less than 4 percent” involved an unarmed black man and a white cop, the fact pattern most commonly referred to by anti-police activists like Black Lives Matter. Last year, The Washington Post put the number of unarmed black men killed by the police at 17, less than the number of blacks likely struck by lightning. Twenty-two unarmed whites were killed by the police. Any death that results from police misconduct is one death too many, but the point is that police killing of a suspect is rare, no matter the race of the suspect or the cop. And a police shooting of an unarmed black male is still more rare.

But blacks are routinely and disproportionately being stopped, pulled over and/or arrested due to police misconduct, right?

No, not according to numerous studies, many by the government. Take traffic stops. In 2013, the National Institute of Justice, the research and evaluation agency of the Department of Justice, published a study of whether the police, as a result of racial bias, stop blacks more than other drivers. The conclusion? Any racial disparity in traffic stops is due to “differences in offending” in addition to “differences in exposure to the police” and “differences in driving patterns.”

According to Philippe Lemoine, writing in National Review, a white person is, on average, more likely to have interactions with the police in any year than a black person, 20.7 percent vs. 17.5 percent. It is true that a black person is more likely to have multiple contacts with the police. But according to the data, multiple contacts with the police are rare, as well. Lemoine writes that 1.2 percent of white men have more than three contacts with the police in a year versus 1.5 percent of black men.

But what about the experience of a black person with the police versus that of a white person? The DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Statistics regularly studies this, too. Every year, the BJS surveys a representative sample of 70,000 people. Among the questions, the survey asks whether respondents had contact with the police in the last 12 months. If the answer is “yes,” the survey asks a number of follow-up questions, including about use of force.

Let’s concentrate on cases involving use of force.

Lemoine writes: “Only 0.6 percent of black men experience physical force by the police in any given year, while approximately 0.2 percent of white men do. … Moreover, keep in mind that these tallies of police violence include violence that is legally justified.” And keep in mind the much higher levels of crime by mostly black males. It is estimated that half of all homicides are committed by, and mostly against, black males.

In 1995, the federal government looked at 42,500 defendants in the nation’s 75 largest counties. A government statistician, Patrick A. Langan, found “no evidence that, in the places where blacks in the United States have most of their contacts with the justice system, that system treats them more harshly than whites.” So much for the so-called “institutional racism” in the criminal justice system.

Recently, in Illinois, in a kids’ 8-and-under football league, the entire team, which appeared to be all black, including the coach, took a knee during the national anthem. Asked why, one third-grade player parroted Kaepernick, saying, according to the coach, “Because black people are getting killed, and nobody’s going to jail.”

Facts don’t matter. The coach, presented with a teachable moment, fumbled it away.



LarryElderLarry Elder is a bestselling author and radio talk-show host. To find out more about Larry Elder, or become an “Elderado,” visit Follow Larry on Twitter @larryelder.

The views expressed in opinion articles are solely those of the author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by Black Community News.

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  1. Great article. People need to know the facts and Larry presents them very well.

    • Things like this, “Black Community”, NAACP, Black TV and all the rest of these separatists only support racism. We don’t have a “black community” in America, we have an American Community, and racism won’t end here until people stop separating themselves off because of race.

  2. But dem blacks dindu nuffin. Dey wuz good boyz not hurtin no one. Nome sayin’?

    • Not a helpful comment. Elder is seriously addressing an important issue; I share your apparent frustration, but ridicule doesn’t win arguments.

    • That type of comment shows YOU to be a racist. YOU are exactly what many of us are trying to get rid of. Sit the hell down ans shut up!

  3. when one of the boys was asked ‘why’ they kneeled, his response was ”coach said black people are getting killed and no one is going to jail for it”. FACTS DON’T MATTER.

  4. “According to The Washington Post, almost 500 whites were killed by cops in 2015, an average of more than one a day. Two hundred fifty-nine blacks were killed by the police.”

    This is unbelievably sloppy statistical reporting, but people actually swallow this nonsense as “facts” that blacks don’t have a reason to be upset, and then throw around words like “dumb” to try to make it sound valid. Do you know how many whites there are in this country as compared to blacks? It’s around a 7 to 1 ratio, or in the range of ~210 million vs. ~30 million. See anything wrong with these statistics you are using?

    It’s half-assed efforts like this that are actually increasing the racial divide in this country.

    • I noticed you ignored his statistical argument regarding blacks being struck by lightning. And according to the census, there are 46.8 million black american. The number of questionable shootings is at best 75. 75 out of 46.8 million? That isn’t racial injustice or anything of the sort. That isn’t even a problem. Sure we must always strive to get better, but the protests are based on a lie.

    • Yes I understand your point. I saw that one single statistic and the projected tallies should be around 2.8 to every 1 white person killed by Police. That is a correct application of the numbers. Not all these facts and figures are based on the same twisted formula. Now having looked at this what can we attribute the higher rate of Blacks being killed? This is the question that follows the discussion. These individuals in BLM would base it only on racist police officers and racial profiling. I believe that is completely untrue. Following the same sort of ratios on crime as above it finds that crimes are overwhelmingly committed at a much higher rate than white people. This is a fact which can be shown in almost any way you look at crime statistics. The normal comeback at this moment is the intro into the whole discussion around the idea that these ratios reflect the oppression and hopelessness experienced by Black America. This accusation is just designed to kick the can on down the street never changing the narrative. They just point out any number of reasons that black people are not in any way responsible. From growing up against white privilege, bad schools in poverty households, no fathers in the homes, hopelessness and afflicted, responses and behaviors that are because of these things. Crime became a necessity, crimes rationalized and officers in urban areas profiling. Of course they profile, any officer doing their job profiles, that is the biggest bullshit in the whole topic. You cannot be effective without it. Of course there are higher rates of crime and black people being pulled over they are committing more crimes. Because of violent criminal behavior more prevalent in black communities there will be more conflict with blacks. This translates to a higher rate of death. It isn’t difficult. You cannot make the case of rampant racism in the Police departments are the problem but I can easily make the case of why more black people get in these situations with Police and being shot.

    • 7 to 1 I don’t know what country you live in but here in the United States it’s about 2.5 to 1 number of whites to blacks. I love how people just throw out numbers like they know what they’re talking about.

      • where in the world are you getting 2.5 to 1 ration from? the ratio is about 4.2 to 1
        because there are about 197.9 White Americans in the U.S. (non-Hispanic) compared to the 46.8 Blacks.

        if including Hispanics who identify as white it totals up to even more: 246 million

    • Why is it, of all the players in the NFL, that 99% of the time one gets arrested, it is a black? Why is it, when the NFL suspends a player for an illegal hit, it’s almost always a black player?

  5. Certainly some evidence that I did not know before. Thanks for sharing, Sir.

  6. The median probability across counties of being {black, armed, and shot by police} is 2.94 times the probability of being {white, armed, and shot by police}. The median probability across counties of being {hispanic, armed, and shot by police} is 1.57 times the probability of being {white, armed, and shot by police}.

    The median probability across counties of being {black, unarmed, and shot by police} is 3.49 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police}. The median probability across counties of being {hispanic, unarmed, and shot by police} is 1.67 times the probability of being {white, unarmed, and shot by police}.

    Are we sure there is no bias?


    • Go into a predominantly Black community, buy a cup of coffee, and observe the scene. You will see a good bit of aggressive behavior on the part of Black dudes. Many of these folks just cannot stay out of truoble.

  7. I like the article but would like to have more recent numbers, and have citations of studies year over year.

    I don’t believe that we have an epidemic of police racism in our country, but this article is a bit broad brushed and bases its conclusions on selective citation of statistics that are less recent than I would like.

    A more authoritative and rigorous study and explanation of year over year data would go far towards crushing the narrative of racism.