How Obama’s Support of Black Lives Matter Deepens the Racial Divide

How Obama’s Support of Black Lives Matter Deepens the Racial Divide

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

President Obama finally made it to a cop funeral. He appeared at the memorial service for five fallen officers in Dallas yesterday, the first during his seven years in office. He had to go, having spoken days earlier in support of the very group that inspired the murderer of the Dallas Five.

After the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police officers, Obama addressed the nation from Warsaw, criticizing the “broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system." He added statistics suggesting the “particular burden that is being placed on a group of our fellow citizens.” Hours later, Micah Johnson took aim, upset about the recent police killings and full of “anger” about Black Lives Matter, leaving five cops dead.

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At the Dallas service, President Obama praised the fallen police officers, but also stood up for Black Lives Matter, as he has done before. He reasserted that the police are guilty of bias and told the country we cannot dismiss BLM “protesters as troublemakers or paranoid.” He acknowledged that protests can get “messy” and can be hijacked by an irresponsible “few.”   

It was a classic Obama moment, presenting himself as the lone rational, all-knowing spectator cruising at 30,000 feet. He had a chance to bring the country together in grief; instead, he dug the dividing lines deeper. In this case, and in this moment, his remarks were entirely inappropriate.

As was the response of BLM to the Dallas killings. The blood was barely dry on the pavements of Dallas when the Black Lives Matter activists took to the streets again. In Chicago, no less. Do they see no irony in staging a large demonstration in the city where so far this year someone has been murdered every 14 hours? A city in which law-abiding citizens need more police intervention, not less? Instead of marching to protest the few blacks killed by cops, shouldn’t they rail against the hundreds of African-Americans killed by other African-Americans in Chicago in just the last few months?

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The country is horrified, and rightly so, by videos that seem to show reckless and tragically fatal behavior by a few policemen. But the nation is even more alarmed by the vicious murders of the five cops. The country is shocked to see Reverend Jeff Hood, described as a “lead organizer” of the BLM protest, scream “God D--- White America” to the crowd in Dallas, moments before Michal Johnson opened fire.  Hood has displayed his violent anti-cop leanings before, posting in 2015:  “The police are always prepared for a gunfight. We shouldn’t be surprised when they actually get one.”

Hood is not unique. Despite assurances from President Obama and other apologists that BLM protests are “peaceful,” the reality is that the black anti-cop movement is frequently violent. Protests in the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile resulted in hundreds of arrests; demonstrators in Minneapolis threw rocks and bottles at police, injuring 21 officers. That’s not “messy,” to use Obama’s word; that’s criminal.

In Baton Rouge, site of another round of demonstrations, the local police said the demonstrations turned more violent due to an influx of agitators from out of town, including some members of the New Black Panther Party, to which Dallas killer Micah Johnson belonged.   

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None of this is surprising. As others have noted, Black Lives Matter claims convicted cop killer Assata Shakur, aka Joanne Chesimard, as their inspiration. Demonstrators last year sported t-shirts saying “Assata Taught Me,” referring to the escaped murderer who is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. As reported last year by Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, “At a recent event for female bloggers, Black Lives Matter leaders had a crowd of thousands repeating lines from a letter written by Shakur that include an explicit reference to the Communist Manifesto.” 

Pavlich went on to note that the DNC at a meeting in Minneapolis had adopted a resolution expressing support for BLM, which was later rejected by that group. “The day after the resolution was passed, BLM chanted, "pigs in a blanket, fry em' like bacon," as they marched down the street.”   

This is the group that President Obama has supported, saying they have a right to “speak truth to power." But are they speaking the truth? Is President Obama truthful when he talks about the underlying racism in our justice system, or is Hillary Clinton, when she charges our police with “systemic bias”? Or are they cynically playing for minority votes?

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According to a data base assembled by The Washington Post to record fatal police shootings, as of July 10, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since the beginning of 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race). Yes, we should adjust for population, but then we should also adjust for the fact that blacks commit a disproportionately high number of violent crimes. For instance, blacks, according to the most recent statistics, account for 57 percent of murders, even though they represent only 13 percent of the population.

Activists argue that there is no correlation between violent crime and police killings; they maintain the only relevant variable is race. Common sense would suggest otherwise. Indeed, a new and surprising study of police shootings by Harvard economist Roland Freyer, Jr., who is African-American, revealed that there is no evidence of racial bias. In reality, Freyer found that cops tend to be rougher with blacks than whites, but that “officers were more likely to fire their weapons without having first been attacked when the suspects were white.” The truth is, blacks are not so unevenly treated as Obama would have us believe.

Why would he mislead us? Perhaps because he is misled. “We all,” the president sermonized in Dallas, “have prejudice in our heads and have felt it in our own hearts…. None of us is entirely innocent.”   It seems that includes the president.