Heather Mac Donald on the American Crime Wave

13 Oct 2021

CLAY: We are rolling through the Wednesday edition of the program joined now by Heather Mac Donald. She is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the best-selling book War on Cops. Heather, thanks for joining us. I gotta say your data and your analysis of that data which I have read a lot distributed through the Wall Street Journal editorial page has been so fabulously well done. Thank you for the work that you have produced and also for the impact you have — you have had in terms of helping to fight back against the onslaught of defund the police. Why do you think there is such antipathy towards police? How do we end it? And will we ever end it?

MAC DONALD: Well, thank you so much. We end it by being realistic about crime in this country. Americans are turning their eyes away from the civilizational breakdown in the inner city that are leading to these utterly, barbaric, insane drive-by shootings that are taking every single day, literally dozens of black lives. The country doesn’t want to confront that and instead we’re blaming the messenger, we’re blaming the cops. They cannot fight crime without having a disparate impact racially. Everything that’s happening today in the criminal justice system, Clay and Buck, can be explained by two words: disparate impact. We are unwinding criminal law enforcement, we’re unwinding incarceration because you cannot ebb force the law without having a disparate impact on black criminals.

Why are we doing that? Why do we want to enforce the law? To save black lives. There’s no government agency more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police. And what we’ve seen in the time since the George Floyd race riots, the police have backed off, the result was utterly predictable: The largest one-year increase in homicide in this nation’s history, 30%. We have to stop demonizing, Joe Biden has to stop putting out this lie that the biggest thing that black parents have to fear when their children walk out the door is the police. That is utterly fantastical, and it continues to scapegoat a profession that is really, in these inner city neighborhoods, the only thing standing between the thousands of good, law-abiding residents that live there and utter anarchy.

BUCK: We’re speaking to Heather Mac Donald, author of the War on Cops. An excellent book I recommend to all of you. I have my copy at home. Heather, it’s Buck. I want to know what you can tell us about whether we are seeing a bit of a final turning of the tide, enough pushback against — you mentioned disparate impact and the way this affects law enforcement. The amount of theft that is going on, really systematic shoplifting and just looting, actually — I mean, I think when you have a bag and you are just taking all the most high priced items you can get your hand on, throwing it in the bag in broad daylight and walking, not even necessarily running out of a store, it’s clear to people seeing that, Heather, something’s going on. Is there finally pushback for the district attorneys, ’cause that’s not even necessarily a police level, that’s a legislative and district attorney issue, in places like California and New York. Are we see that backlash?

MAC DONALD: Not enough, frankly, I mean, we had some of the most left-wing prosecutors in the country reelected in the last election cycle. And you’re right, Buck; we have given up on bourgeois norms of respect for property. Why again? Because they have disparate impact. We are living this experiment in progressive ideology which is that you can unwind law enforcement and you’re gonna have peace and love. Instead what you get is barbarism, anarchy, unbridled theft, unbridled attacks.

You know, it’s tragic in San Francisco when you have Walgreens shutting dozens of stores simply because it does not want to have to accost and arrest shoplifters again because of disparate impact. The result is is that senior citizens who depend on those pharmacies to their drugs are out of luck. The law-abiding people are being sacrificed nor the not to have a conversation about what’s going on in the inner city. The thing to watch for everybody is what happens in Minneapolis. Minneapolis was the start of this latest wave of anti-cop hatred. After George Floyd, they’ve lost about a third of their police department. When Al Sharpton was there celebrating the one-year anniversary of the George Floyd death, at that time you’d have two girls, a 9-year-old and a 6-year-old in the last couple of days right before that having been shot in the head by these insane drive-by shootings who died and a 10-year-old boy who was shot in the head in his parents’ car who’s on life support and brain-dead for the rest of his life.

Not a word from Al Sharpton and Benjamin Crump. But Minneapolis has a vote coming up on its progressive attempt to unwind the police department and replace it with social workers. I don’t think that initiative is gonna pass. That would be a good sign. But I, frankly, do not see enough pushback. The progressives are still pushing the phony narrative that we are living under systemic racism, which is not the case. We are living under bad behavior that has consequences. We don’t have an incarceration problem in this country. We don’t have mass incarceration. We have a crime problem.

CLAY: We’re talking to Heather Mac Donald. Heather, you had a staff that blew my mind and I want to ask to you share it with our audience because I think a lot of people might not have heard it. We hear all the time. Oh, my God. The police, they’re so racist. Like you said, there’s the narrative that is being shared that black people are in danger of being murdered by police at a regular level even though 75% of people shot by police are white, Asian, or Hispanic. And even though over 50% of all murders are committed by black people in this country, it’s like you can’t say that without people saying. Oh, my God. It’s so racist of you. How is it racist to share a fact? You shared a data point in one of your articles that blew my mind. It was the chances of a police officer being shot by a black person as opposed to a black person being shot by a police officer I think — am I correct in that? Which was more likely? In other words, who was under more danger?

MAC DONALD: Yeah, exactly. Let’s start with the basic numbers. I would love for your listeners to guess how many unarmed blacks have been killed this year by the police. My guess is they will say hundreds if not thousands. The number is four. Four unarmed blacks out of a population of 47 million. And unarmed is defined they liberally — this is the Washington Post count — to include people who are grabbing an officer’s gun, beating them with it. Now, you compare that to the number of police officers who have been fatally, criminally assaulted and killed this year, it’s about 55. When you compare the population ratios and calculate how many blacks are likely to have killed those cops because blacks historically make up about 40% of all cop killers, black males, even though they’re 6% of the population, a police officer is 375 times as likely to be killed by a black as an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.

So the threat level is exactly the reverse of what we’ve been led to expect. And yet police officers continue to go into high crime neighborhoods trying to save lives, putting their own lives at risk. And when they back out, the result is last year we’re probably gonna see about 10,000 blacks who were killed. That’s more than all white and Hispanics combined. That those are the bodies that the mainstream media does not want to talk about because if you talk about black crime victims, you have to talk about black criminals, and nobody wants to do that.

BUCK: We’re speaking to Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops. Heather, the defund the police narrative has certainly run into some political problems now because cities like Austin, Texas, like Minneapolis, New York that have either defunded or said they were in the process of defunding police have had major increases in homicides and shootings. I know you’ve been detailing and putting out a lot of those stats. Is defund the police now politically toxic as a slogan, or is this just going to go through a cycle? I mean, I like to remind everybody, BLM in June of 2020 was really BLM 2.0, and it started under the Obama administration.

MAC DONALD: It certainly did. We had the Ferguson Effect in 2015, 2016 after the Michael Brown shooting, another 2,000 blacks killed over two years compared to 2014. Last year we had another 2001 year. I think it’s becoming toxic. But, you know what? What I’m looking for, Buck and Clay, is change in the Biden administration. You know, I do not see any backing off of Merrick Garland both pretending that conservatives are domestic terrorists. I don’t see any backing off of them say we’re gonna put as many police departments under enormously costly, enormously burdensome, enormously unnecessary consent decrees. Biden could do a heck of a lot if he said, “I was wrong. I see now what happens when you demonize the cops.”

Minneapolis again, ground zero of the anti-police movement, police — car stops dropped 85% after the race riots. Pedestrian stops dropped 75%. Cops are making a very valid, understandable calculation. There’s a whole lot of discretionary activity like getting out of your car, initiating activity if you see somebody on a known drug corner at 2 a.m. hitching up his waistband as if he has a gun, you can or you cannot get out of your car. You don’t need to. There hasn’t been a 911 call. Cops are saying, I’m driving on by. I’m not gonna stop that gangbanger and see if he’s got a gun because if the situation escalates and it’s caught on cell phone, I may be out of my job, I may be facing a criminal penalty, who knows if you can get due process of law in this country because juries know that if they don’t convict a police officer, America will burn to the ground. That’s what happened after Derek Chauvin trial. And so officers are not doing discretionary activity. And the result was again predictable as you say, we see this in the 2015, 2016 with de-policing, crime went up, crime has gone up twice as much now, and Biden has a lot of explaining to do.

CLAY: Heather, I really appreciate your work. How many people do you hear from who say I want to share the data that you have written. I want to share all the things that you are saying, but I’m afraid that if I do, I’ll get called racist?

MAC DONALD: Huge. It’s a huge problem. It is so amazing. These are bodies. The bodies do not lie. Homocide rate is the gold standard in criminology. We know blacks die of homicide in this country between the ages of 10 and 43 at 13 times the rate of whites. That means they are killing each other at 13 times the rate of whites. Blacks commit 88% of all interracial crime between blacks and whites. These are the data, but nobody dares talk about them because to talk about the black victims means you’re a racist.

You know, people like me that have been writing about this, we keep scratching our heads and say, “But black lives matter, don’t they?” No, they don’t because America, as I say, does not want to talk about the cultural, family breakdown in the inner city. You have elite institutions that would rather accuse themselves of phantom racism because they are so terrified that the behavior and achievement gaps are never gonna close, that they’re setting out in advance the only allowable explanation for crime disparities, for achievement disparities, which is white racism, that is an explanation that holds no water whatsoever in a country where now every single mainstream institution is bending over backwards to hire and promote as many minorities as possible. We were once appallingly racist. We are not so today.

BUCK: Heather Mac Donald, author of The War on Cops and at the Manhattan Institute. Heather, thank you so much.

MAC DONALD: Buck, thank you so much. Great pleasure.

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