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Commentary By Jason L. Riley

The Real Crime Problem Doesn't Make Much News

Public Safety, Culture Policing, Crime Control, Race

The media play up shootings by police. Last year in Chicago, they were less than 1% of the total.

The Chicago video that features four black suspects assaulting a white man has sparked another discussion about “hate crimes,” but it also highlights a phenomenon that has been underreported by a liberal media more interested in political correctness.

Crime reporting these days seems more focused on the behavior of the police than on the behavior of criminals. Police shootings of black men are rare, for example, but they get far more media coverage than when black civilians shoot one another, which is much more common. There were 4,368 shootings in Chicago last year, according to the Chicago Tribune’s crime database. Almost all of the shooting victims were black, and more than 99% of the shootings were carried out by civilians, not cops. Obviously, young black men in Chicago don’t roam the streets in fear of getting shot by police.

When the media aren’t indulging liberal activists by pretending that police shootings drive black homicide rates, they’re playing down the very real episodes of black criminality shown in the video. For years, Asian students in public schools have complained of racially motivated harassment and bullying by black students. Surveillance cameras have caught young black men playing the “knockout game,” which involves sucker-punching random white pedestrians. Cities from Los Angeles to Philadelphia to Baltimore have experienced “wilding” incidents, which involve flash mobs of black youths rampaging through a mall or park or convenience store and physically attacking people in the process.

Most violent crimes involve a perpetrator and victim of the same race. But when they don’t, incidents of black-on-white crimes far exceed the reverse scenario. “In 2012, blacks committed 560,600 acts of violence against whites (excluding homicide), and whites committed 99,403 acts of violence (excluding homicide) against blacks,” writes the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald, citing federal Bureau of Justice Statistics data. “Blacks, in other words, committed 85 percent of the non-homicide interracial crimes of violence between blacks and whites, even though they are less than 13 percent of the population.”

When the mainstream media discuss relations between poor black communities and law enforcement without including data on black crime rates, readers and viewers aren’t getting the full picture. Racially motivated attacks on blacks shouldn’t be ignored or played down, but neither should racially motivated attacks perpetrated by blacks.

Nationwide, crime is down from where it was in the 1990s, but it has ticked up in recent years in some major cities. Chicago’s murder rate in 2016 was the highest in two decades. Violent crime in Los Angeles has increased for three straight years. Liberals are quick to blame poverty or economic downturns or racial bias in policing, but those explanations can’t withstand scrutiny.

Crime began spiking in the 1960s, when the U.S. economy was strong and jobs were plentiful. The economic boom of the 1980s coincided with a steady increase in crime. Police officials in Los Angeles have attributed the higher crime rate to increased homelessness, among other factors, but homelessness has also risen in New York City, where violent crime has fallen.

Hiring more police officers to flood crime-ridden neighborhoods could help. In 2015 the LAPD sent extra officers to South Los Angeles after an increase in shootings. “By the time the emergency operation ended on Oct. 1, the rate of violent crime had stabilized in South L.A.,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “But with resources concentrated there, some other parts of the city experienced upticks in crime.”

Last fall, Chicago announced plans to hire 970 officers over the next two years. Increasing police presence alone, however, may have limited effect if cops feel they are being targeted by the press and scapegoated by activist groups like Black Lives Matter.

Despite the national downward trend over the past two decades, people remain concerned for their safety. In a Gallup poll last March, 53% of respondents said they worry “a great deal” about crime and violence. That’s up from less than 40% in 2014 and a 15-year high. Respondents who were low-income, nonwhite and less educated expressed by far the most concern, which you would expect from the people who bear the brunt of violent crime in the U.S., however it’s trending.

Donald Trump made clear throughout the campaign that his instinct would be to support police in a way that they haven’t been supported under the Obama administration, which made a habit of second-guessing law enforcement and politicizing police investigations. Let’s hope the incoming administration’s sympathies will be with the mostly law-abiding residents of poor neighborhoods for a change. And let’s hope it doesn’t take another group of criminals who are stupid enough to live stream their offenses in order for the media to present a more accurate picture of crime in America.

This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal


Jason L. Riley is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and a Fox News commentator.

This piece originally appeared in The Wall Street Journal