The ColorofChange.org is campaigning this weekend to “reclaim MLK” by putting out a map claiming that police are killing blacks at nearly the same rate they were lynched during the Jim Crow era and it is spawning the intended hatred from Twitter followers.
Their source is an opinion article from The Guardian. The data is drawn from a USA Today article, citing an FBI report containing incomplete numbers and “likely” an undercount. USA Today reports, “The database it’s based on has been long considered flawed and largely incomplete.” USA Today also reports that a 2008 report from the Bureau of Justices Statistics estimates “fewer than 2 percent of the 40 million people who had contact with police reported the use of force or threatened use of force.”
The numbers are bad enough on their own but these groups seem to feel the need to inflame hatred rather than having an productive and honest discussion to affect change.
Just last month The Washington Post ran a piece debunking the claim, “every 28 hours, an unarmed black person is killed by police” giving it 4 Pinocchio’s.
The claim was based on a April 2013 report titled “Operation Ghetto Storm” by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement.
The author of the report disagreed with the rating, stating those who “respect and take seriously the movement … understand that whether people repeat ‘every 24, 28, 54 or 84 hours’ is not the point. Any of these numbers carry the meaning that police killing of black people is systemic, routinized and without legal consequence.” It’s just a hashtag, and “like most hashtags, lends itself to oversimplification and misrepresentation.”
I am wondering if this is her idea of oversimplification?
— ANU SOLO TOOTEKKY13 (@EmmanuelLuJAnu) January 17, 2015
What is the ultimate goal of these groups? It is clearly not change. Making inflammatory statements and absurd maps based on erroneous numbers does not make for change, it just fosters an already deep resentment towards law enforcement in the African-American community and severely hinders anyone trying to have a real conversation to address the problems and find solutions.