Fox News invoked “black-on-black crime” in its ongoing attempt to dismiss the concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement, which aims to shine a spotlight on police violence in black communities. Experts have thoroughly dismantled the “black-on-black crime” deflection, pointing out that intra-racial crime is not unique to black communities and that “black-on-black crime” reduces a complex history of institutionalized racism and segregation to one phenomenon. Meanwhile, African Americans are more than twice as likely to be killed by police -- and almost twice as likely to be unarmed -- than their white counterparts.
Fox News Pushes “Black-On-Black Crime” To Undermine Black Lives Matter Movement
Fox Guest Hypes Black-On-Black Homicide Rates To Discredit Black Lives Matter. On the September 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity, guest Larry Elder dismissed the Black Lives Matter movement as “people whining and bitching and moaning about nonsense,” adding that if they “really want to talk about Black Lives Matter,” they would focus more on “black people murdered [by] other black people.” Host Sean Hannity agreed, later adding that there are more “incident[s] of black-on-black crime than incidents involving the police”:
ELDER: This is about people whining and bitching and moaning about nonsense. If they really want to talk about Black Lives Matter, the fact is that last year 6,000 black people murdered other black people. Where are they on that? And the number one preventable cause of death for young black men is homicide at the hands of other black men. The number one preventable cause of death for young white men are car accidents. And the last 30 years, there's been a 75 percent reduction against police shooting black people, while the numbers of whites being shot have flat-lined. It is nonsense. If the Black Lives Matter people really want to do something, come down to South Central where I live. Come to Chicago, come to Camden, come to Ferguson where crime has gone up, generally speaking, if black people being victimized.
HANNITY: Wait a minute, it is 57 times higher -- the incident of black-on-black crime than incidents involving the police. [Fox News, Hannity, 9/1/15]
Fox's Geraldo Rivera: “Black People Killing Black People: That Is The Epidemic.” On the September 2 edition of Hannity, Fox News senior correspondent Geraldo Rivera said that he wanted to send a message to President Obama about “black people killing black people,” citing a billboard that reads, “Black Lives Matter, so let's quit killing each other” (emphasis added):
RIVERA: Here's what I would recommend to the president. There's a billboard right now running in Memphis, Tennessee, Sean. It says “Black Lives Matter, so let's quit killing each other.” It is a wonderful message; that's the message. When you say there's been a murder spike in the country, here are the cities that are affected: Detroit, Oakland, Memphis, St. Louis, Cleveland, Baltimore with 225, Milwaukee, Birmingham, Newark. That's the top ten. What do they have in common?It is black people killing black people: that is the epidemic. It is why the police are so often called into contact with young black men; it's because of the carnage.
RIVERA: If you see what's happening in Baltimore, clearly there are -- with 225 homicides this year -- the death of Freddie Gray begins to pale. The message is lost when you have blood running in the streets of West Baltimore. I saw it with my own eyes. Where does this end? When are people going to seize the moment and deal with the real issue here? [Fox News, Hannity, 9/2/15]
Fox Reporter: “Some Say” Black Lives Matter “Falls Flat When You Consider Just How Many Blacks Are Killing Other Blacks.” During a report on the September 1 edition of America's Newsroom discussing a nationwide rise in urban homicide rates, network reporter Doug McKelway claimed that “the often heard mantra that 'Black Lives Matter,' some say, falls flat when you consider just how many blacks are killing other blacks. That remains the majority of homicides across the country.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 9/1/15]
Sean Hannity: “Why Doesn't Anyone March About” Black-On-Black Crime? During a segment on the August 27 edition of Hannity, host Sean Hannity discussed black-on-black crime with Fox contributor Deroy Murdock, who asserted that he would “love to hear the Black Lives Matter people talk about” how black people kill each other at higher rates than police officers do, while Hannity added “why doesn't anyone march about that?”:
HANNITY: As I look back at the numbers, Deroy, it's pretty clear about 100 black Americans will be killed in incidents with police on any given year. Those are pretty standard numbers. What are the numbers when it comes to “black-on-black crime,” which we don't hear about?
MURDOCK: Much higher, Sean. The numbers are about 56 times higher, about 5,600 people, black people, are killed by other black people per year. So it's about 56 times higher. By the way that 100 you mentioned, that includes armed, unarmed, justified, unjustified, male, female, etc. But even if you assume those were all unarmed people who were killed unjustifiably by the cops, you have 56 times more black people being killed by other black people. I'd love to hear the Black Lives Matter people talk about that. If black lives really matter, they'd have to talk about the 56 times more innocent black people who are killed by other black people, not by white cops or racism of the cops or anything else like that.
HANNITY: Well that raises a good question. If it's 56 times more, where it happens where it's “black-on-black crime,” why doesn't anyone march about that? Why is it always the limited, the few incidents where cops are involved? Why is there such outrage, and then total ignoring of the majority of cases? Why is that? [Fox News, Hannity, 8/27/15]
Juan Williams: “Why Is It That We Don't See” Black Lives Matter Addressing “Black-On-Black Murder And Crime?” Discussing the Black Lives Matter movement on the August 25 edition of The Five, co-host Juan Williams wondered, “Why is it that we don't see Black Live Matter” protesting “extraordinarily high” "'black-on-black murder and crime.'" Co-host Kimberly Guilfoyle replied, “Because black lives only matter some of the time, according to the movement”:
WILLIAMS: Kimberly, why is it that we don't see Black Lives Matter saying, “Hey, I can't believe these drug dealers? We're going to go after the drug dealers. We're going to protest about black-on-black murder and crime” -- extraordinarily high, higher than any other racial group or community. Why don't we see that?
GUILFOYLE: Because black lives only matter some of the time, according to their movement. They should be the first people rising up in arms to say, enough, no more “black-on-black crime.” No more murder in our communities. We want places where our children can get an education, can play in the playground and not be slaughtered by a drive-by shooting or be collateral damage in these feuds and war that's going on in urban neighborhoods across America." [Fox News, The Five, 8/25/15]
“Black-On-Black Crime” Deflection Has Been Dismantled Numerous Times
Vox: Invoking “Black-On-Black Crime” “Randomly Zooms In On One Phenomenon ... Ignoring The Issues That Go Hand In Hand With It.” Vox's Jenée Desmond-Harris explained how invoking “black-on-black crime” sidelines discussion of “every piece of the puzzle that goes along with crime in black communities”:
In fact, the reason everyone knows so much about black-on-black crime in, say, Chicago is that it getstonsof national attention.
But guess whatdoesoften get ignored by a large segment of the population? Every piece of the puzzle that goes along with crime in black communities -- deep-seated, institutionalized discrimination and racism that affects every single area of life, and provides the backdrop for the violence that does occur in predominantly black, low-income places like Chicago's South Side neighborhood.
Focusing on black-on-black crime distracts from the current news (the murder case against Slanger, in this instance) that is worthy of discussion and analysis. Worse, it randomly zooms in on one phenomenon -- that sometimes black people kill people who are also black -- while ignoring the issues that go hand in hand with it. And that's a lot to ignore. As Ta-Nehesi Coates wrote at the Atlantic in 2014, “The policy of America has been, for most of its history, white supremacy. The high rates of violence in black neighborhoods do not exist outside of these facts -- they evidence them.” [Vox, 4/9/15]
The Daily Beast: “There's No Such Thing As 'Black-On-Black' Crime.” In a July 2013 article for The Daily Beast, Jamelle Bouie explained that “for the large majority of crimes, you'll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity”:
But there's a huge problem with attempt to shift the conversation: There's no suchthingas “black-on-black” crime. Yes, from 1976 to 2005, 94 percent of black victims were killed by black offenders, but that racial exclusivity was also true for white victims of violent crime -- 86 percent were killed by white offenders. Indeed, for the large majority of crimes, you'll find that victims and offenders share a racial identity, or have some prior relationship to each other.
What Shapiro and others miss about crime, in general, is that it's driven by opportunism and proximity; If African-Americans are more likely to be robbed, or injured, or killed by other African-Americans, it's because they tend to live in the same neighborhoods as each other. Residential statistics bear this out ... blacks are still more likely to live near each other or other minority groups than they are to whites. And of course, the reverse holds as well -- whites are much more likely to live near other whites than they are to minorities and African-Americans in particular. [The Daily Beast, 7/15/13]
Slate: Intra-Racial Crime A Result Of Segregation Rather Than “Any Particular Propensity For Crime.” In a 2014 article, Slate's Jamelle Bouie took down former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani's attempt to deflect from a question about police force diversity by expressing disappointment that “you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks” (emphasis added):
What makes this -- and Giuliani -- unserious? First are the facts of the matter. To start, homicide exists among whites--the third leading cause of death for white men (and fourth for white women) age 19 to 24 is homicide. As for “black-on-black crime,” while 90 percent of black Americans are killed by other black Americans, it's also true that this high intragroup crime rate isn't unique--83 percent of white Americans are killed by other white Americans. This is easy to understand. People don't go across town to steal or kill--they commit crime against their neighbors. And in the United States, where most lives are still segregated by race, that means blacks victimize blacks, whites victimize whites, and so on. Any difference in intragroup crime owes more to levels of segregation--most whites live in places where there are some minorities, most blacks live in places where there are mostly blacks--than it does to any particular propensity for crime. [Slate, 11/25/14]
The Nation: “Black Criminals Are Not Particularly Different” From Other Racial Groups, But “Police Are A Special Category.” A December 2014 article in The Nation, Gary Younge explained that "[t]he phrase 'black-on-black crime' makes sense only if you understand black people's propensity to commit crimes against people of their own race as inherently different from the way other racial groups commit crimes." Furthermore, Younge wrote that while black crime should be considered no differently than other intra-racial crime, the police “are a special category”:
The phrase “black-on-black crime” makes sense only if you understand black people's propensity to commit crimes against people of their own race as inherently different from the way other racial groups commit crimes.
The police are a special category. That's the point. Black people are not, by dint of their melanin content, instructed to protect and serve the public; the police, by dint of their employment, are. Black people do not have a monopoly on violence; the police do. So when the people entrusted with upholding the law kill someone, that raises very different issues than if a kid from down the block shoots somebody. When the people who are supposed to protect everybody show an undeniable propensity to kill one group of people more than others (black men aged 15 to 19 are twenty-one times more likely to be shot by police than their white counterparts), that inevitably raises the question of discrimination. Our taxes don't pay to support black criminals in their pursuit of black victims; they are currently going to support police in the shooting of black people.
[T]he police are not an elevated category. The law still applies to them. When black people kill other black people, families and communities seek justice. When there are eyewitnesses, videos and forensic evidence, they want investigations, arrests, indictments, trials and convictions. They also want the punishment to be proportionate to the crime. They want no less when a policeman is the killer. In reality, they get far less. In fact, they get nothing. There is no punishment because, apparently, there was no crime. [The Nation, 12/9/14]
Empirical Evidence Supports Black Lives Matter's Claims About Disparate Policing Outcomes Regarding African Americans
The Guardian: In 2015, 30 Percent Of Black People Killed By Police Were Unarmed, Compared To 17 Percent Of White People. A Media Matters analysis of The Guardian's live database of people killed by police in the United States revealed that as of September 2, 30 percent of black people killed by police in 2015 were unarmed, compared to 17 percent of white people. The Guardian database is made up of “verified crowdsourced information”:
The Counted is a project by the Guardian - and you - working to count the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.
The database will combine Guardian reporting with verified crowdsourced information to build a more comprehensive record of such fatalities. The Counted is the most thorough public accounting for deadly use of force in the US, but it will operate as an imperfect work in progress - and will be updated by Guardian reporters and interactive journalists as frequently and as promptly as possible. [The Guardian, 9/2/15]
Black People Almost Twice As Likely To Be Killed By Police Than White People. According to analysis by Vice News, “black people per population were more than twice as likely to be killed by cops than any other race” from August 2014-August 2015. [Vice News, 8/9/15]
USA Today: FBI Data Over Seven-Year Period Show That White Police Officers Killed A Black Person “Nearly Two Times A Week.” In a 2014 article, USA Today reported that a black person was killed by a white police officer "[n]early two times a week" over a seven-year period ending in 2012, concluding that “the numbers appear to show that the shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., last Saturday was not an isolated event in American policing”:
Nearly two times a week in the United States, a white police officer killed a black person during a seven-year period ending in 2012, according to the most recent accounts of justifiable homicide reported to the FBI.
On average, there were 96 such incidents among at least 400 police killings each year that were reported to the FBI by local police. The numbers appear to show that the shooting of a black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., last Saturday was not an isolated event in American policing.
The reports show that 18% of the blacks killed during those seven years were under age 21, compared to 8.7% of whites. The victim in Ferguson was 18-year-old Michael Brown. Police have yet to identify the officer who shot him; witnesses have said the officer was white. [USA Today, 8/15/14]