Two police officers were shot in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sept. 23, 2020, during the demonstrations that followed the announcement that officers would not be directly criminally charged in the death of Breonna Taylor. (One officer was charged with recklessly firing his weapon into adjacent apartments.)
Unrest had been predicted in Louisville, and authorities had properly prepared for the street unrest, but no amount of preparation can prevent determined troublemakers from fomenting violence.
Damage was done in other parts of the city as well. As in all similar situations, the people intent on committing violence and property destruction blend in with the peaceful protesters, and are thus very difficult for the police to spot. It’s akin to guerilla warfare, where fighters make use of peaceful crowds as a smokescreen.
Demonstrations were held in other cities as well, but so far no other police have been attacked.
It’s now virtual open warfare on America’s police. Police know that anytime a black person is killed or injured during an encounter with police—or indeed whenever a decision is made about the death of a black person—their lives will be in danger. There are virtually targets placed on the backs of every police officer in America today.
This is a completely unsustainable situation. The fact is, there will be people of all colors killed during police encounters in the future. There are something like 2 million arrests made by police every year. Unfortunately, in a fraction of those cases, the person being arrested resists arrest and must be forcibly subdued. In an even smaller percentage of cases, the person arrested is killed while resisting arrest. In almost all of those cases, the killing is justifiable.
The fact that black men are disproportionately involved in committing crimes means that the same disproportion is reflected in the kill rate. But it’s not true that black men are more likely than whites to be killed during a police encounter. The street narrative that racist police are wantonly killing black men is completely false.
In fact, the same difference in police encounter rates can be found in a comparison between white and Asian men. Asian men are less likely than white men to commit crimes, so their police encounter is lower. It follows that Asian men are statistically less likely to die during a police encounter than white men. (I do not refer here to women, because the numbers of women killed during police encounters is effectively zero).
Displeasing the Crowd
The takeaway from this is that every year there will be a certain number of men killed while resisting lawful arrest. That’s just an unfortunate fact of life. It’s not a sustainable situation if every incident that displeases the crowd results in the shooting of police officers.
In the Louisville situation, what sparked the violence was simply a decision made about a previous incident involving a police shooting that displeased the crowd. There are many potentially unpopular decisions pending. For example, administrative or court decisions in both the George Floyd and Rayshard Brooks cases have the potential to be very unpopular with the crowd. It’s not sustainable for police to be made walking targets every time an unpopular decision is announced.
For purely political reasons—namely, Democrat election strategy—police have been made scapegoats for every perceived ill in society.
This unsustainable situation could be ended quickly if Democrat mayors, governors, and leaders would clearly denounce Antifa and Black Lives Matter violence, and denounce the highly destructive “defund the police” movement. So far they’ve not done so. Instead, they’ve shown every indication that they plan to continue to exploit this wave of violence for political advantage. By doing so, they’re accessories to the murder of police officers.
Brian Giesbrecht is a retired judge and a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.