Perpetuating the Big Lie About Lethal Police Encounters

The Guardian has published an article by Simon Bolton with the headline “The killing of Tyre Nichols was heinous and shocking. It was also not an aberration.” Simon Balto is assistant professor of history and African American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, lair of woke progressivism. He is the author of Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power. Part of the summary reads: “By exploring the deeper origins of this toxic system, Balto reveals how modern mass incarceration, built upon racialized police practices, emerged as a fully formed machine of profoundly antiblack subjugation.” That should give you an insight into his worldview.

As readers of Freedom and Reason are well aware, Balto is hardly alone in the system that manufactures historical accounts entrenching the mythology of the racist criminal justice systems in the popular mind. The propagandists of the corporate state are no less involved. Here is a tweet by CNN political commentator, former congressman for New York’s 17th district, and current member of the US Commission on Civil Rights Mondaire Jones desperately trying to keep alive the false narrative that racism lies beneath these events—even when the police officers are all black.

Jones’ remark speaks well of the efforts by DeSantis and his team to keep out of k-12 woke progressive propaganda (although I am not sure the course in question includes the disinformation Jones believes it does). Look, if you’re trying to rationalize five black cops killing a black man as racist—just stop. You’ve reached the end of woke progressivism. Take a break. Reassess. All your beliefs are suspect.

Police killing an unarmed civilians is extraordinarily rare. It is an aberration. There are tens of millions of police-civilian interactions every year, and the number of unarmed civilians killed in those interactions is at most a couple of dozen. Too many, to be sure, but hardly a normal occurrence.

Moreover, being unarmed does not mean the civilian presents no danger to the police. I have viewed videos where an unarmed assailant disarms a police officer. I share one below. In a police-involved shooting in Victorville, California, a neighbor records an instance of attempted murder of police officers. In the video, you can see Ari Young attack a lone female deputy and beat her savagely. She draws her gun in self-defense. Young disarmed her and shoots at her. Fortunately he missed. Other officers are not so lucky.

I have extensively documents on Freedom and Reason that benchmarks and situational factors explain all but a handful of fatal police encounters. In the vast majority of cases, the actions of the suspect provoked the shooting, and in some cases the consequences that follow the provocation appear to have been the end the suspect sought (suicide by cop).

The claims about racism in lethal police encounters is one of the many big lies pushed out by corporate state media that we have to confront if we want to disrupt the elite project to mislead the public. The fact is that when police kill an unarmed civilian, it is more likely that the civilian will be white, not black. Indeed, police kill twice as many whites than blacks every year. And it goes unremarked upon that is some of those cases, it is a black officer shooting a white man.

Even in proportional terms, whites are at greater risk to be shot by police even though blacks are drastically overrepresented in the most serious crime (more than half of murders and robberies). To be sure, blacks are overrepresented in police shootings. But blacks are overrepresented in serious crime, and in most lethal police shootings armed and representing a threat to officers. Roland Fryer suggests that whites may be are overrepresented in police shootings relative to benchmarks and situational factors because cops are reluctant to shoot black suspects—the opposite of what the media tells you.

The attempt to save the narrative by claiming that blacks officers shoot other black men because they have internalized white supremacy is ludicrous. But then so is the claim that white officers shoot black men because they harbor implicit racism against blacks is ludicrous. That has, of course, not stopped psychologist and sociologists from trying to demonstrate that it does. There is a substantial body of empirical research on this question. However, theories that work from the implicit bias thesis have no demonstrated predictive validity. And given that the statistics on lethal police shootings provide no inferential support for racial bias in the phenomenon, the hunt for the effects of implicit racial bias is moot. Racism in lethal civilian-police encounters is a myth.

The way the media focuses almost exclusively on black civilian deaths at the hands of police officers cannot be accidental. It’s not. It’s propaganda. It’s well understood by those who are familiar with the statistics that the police kill twice as many white men every year than black men.

Unlike the belief that fatal police encounters have racism in back of them, the effects of the propaganda on public perception are very real. When I tell my students the truth, their faces screw up because they have been deceived by the corporate state propaganda. Their expression is one of incredulity. Frankly, it’s not their fault; they have been conditioned to disbelieve. They’re the victims of what propagandists call “prebunking,” a species of learned thought-stopping.

Since the bias in reporting is intentional, there must be an agenda at work here. How could that agenda be anything other than manufacturing racial resentment? Of course it is. Why would the corporate state media want to do that? It’s not obvious? This an old tactic called divide and conquer. Elites not only divide blacks and whites, but they also divide whites between “allies” and “bigots,” with the latter comprised of those who refuse to swallow the lies of the corporate state.

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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