How Progressive Criminal Justice Policy Puts Black Lives at Risk

Update (Thursday, April 20, 2023): You’ve probably heard about Klint Ludwig throwing his grandpa Andrew Lester under the bus. Thought you might want to put your eyes on Klint and see whether you’re surprised. Ludwig, a Democratic Party shill, seized the opportunity to feed CNN propaganda points, with race-baiting anchor Don Lemon stuffing his face with the robust meal of progressive talking point. Other of Lester’s relatives dispute the claims Ludwig makes. Lester was not a racist. He was a scared old man.

Klint Ludwig seizing the opportunity to feed CNN propaganda points.

Meanwhile, police are on the hunt for Robert Louis Singletary. Singletary fired on a family living in his neighborhood in Gaston County, Norther Carolina. Six-year-old Kinsley White was hit by shrapnel after retrieving her basketball from a location near Singletary’s residence. Singletary also wounded White’s mother and father. Shielding his wife and child from the shooter, the father, William, took the brunt of the attack. He remains in the hospital in critical condition.

Although the story is being covered by major media, this almost certainly the result of the barrage of criticism concerning the double standard by the media when it comes to the reality of racial violence in America, the reporting does not discuss the possibility that the interracial character of the crime suggests a “racial component.” The failure to suggest this stands in stark contrast the reflex to imply racism whenever the interracial angle is in reverse.

Six-year-old Kinsley White (left) was hit by shrapnel from bullets fired by Robert Louis Singletary (right) after retrieving her basketball from a location near Singletary’s residence.

* * *

Yesterday, in Kansas City, Missouri, an 84-year-old white man named Andrew Lester was charged with first-degree assault and armed criminal action for allegedly shooting a 16-year-old black kid named Ralph Yarl. Yarl had misunderstood the directions he was given and wound up at the wrong address. Yarl was struck twice. He is now at home recovering. I hope he makes a full recovery.

Ralph Yarl was shot by a homeowner who mistook him as a threat in one of the deadliest cities in America

The media is reporting that Clay County Prosecutor’s Office said the crime had a “racial component.” While there is no mention of this in the charging document, the case does indeed have a racial component. Young black men like Yarl are daily put in harm’s way by crime control policies developed and implemented by urban elites.

The progressive approach to public safety puts black people at risk in a myriad of ways. That most murder victims in America are black males—dying at the hands of other black males—is only the outstanding fact (albeit a fact largely ignored by the corporate state media). The case of Yarl indicates another risk: the racialization of threat perception shaped by high rates of criminal violence.

Routinely in the top ten deadliest cities in America, Kansas City is among the worst in the country for criminal violence. The state as a whole is only second to Mississippi when it comes to the rate of gun homicides. Missouri’s other large city, St. Louis, has the second highest homicide rate in the country after New Orleans. In some some years, St. Louis surpasses New Orleans in gun homicides.

Gun violence by blacks drives the murder rate in Missouri. At 11.8 percent, the black population in Missouri is less than the national average (13.6 percent); yet, compared to whites, blacks are nearly twice as likely to commit murder and nearly two and a half times more likely to be murdered. Blacks commit 60 percent of murders in Missouri. They are 69 percent of murder victims. The vast majority of perpetrators and victims of gun homicide are males. Males are half the population in the United States. That means that less than six percent of the population in Missouri commit most of the murders in that state.

Blacks are overrepresented in other violent crimes, as well. Sixty-five percent of robberies are committed by blacks. However, fifty-four percent of robbery victims are white. All violent crime accounted for, half are committed by blacks, while fifty-five percent of victims of violent crimes are white.

One of the consequences of not controlling crime is that public fear of crime grows. We are told that it is biased media coverage that raises the fear level. To be sure, the media distorts perception. But in the case of law and order issues, the bias runs in the opposite direction progressives claim. The role blacks play in serious crime is downplayed by the media. Rather it is the clear overrepresentation of certain groups in homicide and other violent crimes that changes mass perception. The fear is therefore not entirely irrational. Under these conditions, what used to be a mistaken address becomes a potential home invasion, a risk statistically more likely amid the failure to control crime.

There is no shortage of videos on the Internet of trusting people being victimized in their own homes by intruders who were not regarded with the degree of caution one exercises to be safe in a dangerous city. The Internet allows people to get around the corporate state filter. Seeing this, the citizen gets a gun to protect himself from very real threats. He is determined to not to be another victim; if the police aren’t going to protect him, then he will protect himself. By heightening the threat of interpersonal crime, bad public policy makes it more likely a citizen will use that gun in an ambiguous situation. People become less cautious in their actions when they are under siege. Is that a lion in the bush? Or just the wind? It’s how we are hardwired.

Andrew Lester stands accused of assault and criminal action in the shooting of Ralph Yarl.

According to sources, Lester told police that he had just gone to bed when the doorbell rang. He picked up his handgun and opened the interior door of his house. There he found a black male pulling on the exterior door. He thought the male was trying to break into the house. He told police that he was “scared to death” at the size of the male. He feared that at his advanced age he would be unable to defend himself against an intruder, so he twice discharged his weapon.


Crime is rampant in Kansas City, as it is throughout urban America, and it’s growing worse. As you can see from the above graph, the murder rate in Missouri is higher now that it has been at any time since before 1985—even higher than the previous peak year, in 1993, when the nation as a whole was experiencing historically high violent crime rates. Moreover, the murder rate for Missouri has in most years exceeded the national rate of homicide. The increase in homicide since the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the shift in criminal justice policy towards ever greater leniency is especially startling. Homicide in Missouri is now nearly twice the rate of the national average.

Mayors of Kansas City and St. Louis respectively, Quinton Lucas and Tishaura Jones

The racialization of threat perception is an awful tax laid upon innocent blacks by the failure of governments to control urban crime. This failure rests at the feet of progressive urban policy, which the work of the Democratic Party. It is no accident that, of the thirty most violent cities in America, twenty-seven of them are run by progressives. Is it therefore surprising that the mayor of Kansas City, Quinton Lucas, is a Democrat? Would it surprise you if I told you that the mayor of St. Louis, Tishaura Jones, is a Democrat? It’s predictable.

“Let’s be clear: No child should ever live in fear of being shot for ringing the wrong doorbell,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted. “Every child deserves to be safe.” Indeed. But they won’t be as long as Harris’ party runs our nation’s cites.

Published by

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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