There has been a recent effort to link the Black Lives Matter movement to a spate of murders of police officers last month. On Tuesday night, Bill O’Reilly brought on Peter Moskos, a professor of Criminal Justice at John Jay College and a former police officer to discuss the issue. O’Reilly asked Moskos if he believes that “the Black Lives Matter crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops.”
Despite his best efforts, O’Reilly could not get the answer from Moskos that he wanted.
O’Reilly: Dr. Peter Moskos, professor at John Jay College Of Criminal Justice, former police officer. Do you believe that the Black Lives Matter Crew and other radicals are igniting violence against cops?
Moskos: I think they are making the police job tougher. I think the police can handle that. It’s always been a tough job. But no, I don’t think… There’s not a result of cops getting killed from Black Lives Matter.
O’Reilly: Ok, so despite the provocative, “pigs in a blanket” and all of this business. And every time there is controversy about an officer shooting a black person they’re out there stirring the pot. You don’t feel like disturbed individuals watch this and act out.
Moskos: There are fewer cops shot this year than last year. Are you willing to give Black Lives Matter credit for that? Cops shootings are down.
O’Reilly: I know they are down. Slightly.
Moskos: Seventeen percent.
O’Reilly: But in August they are up.
Moskos: August was a bad month. In July there were none. Overall they are down. I don’t see an epidemic there.
O’Reilly moved onto his next guest, Dr. Alfred Blumstein, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University.
Blumstein agreed with Moskos. He also rejected O’Reilly’s claim that Black Lives Matter was engaged in propaganda. “There have been cases where video has shown inappropriate behavior by police,” Blumstein told an exasperated O’Reilly.
Moskos was pointing out an error in O’Reilly’s logic: The correlation between the drop in officer murders and Black Lives Matter activity does not mean there is a causal relationship. Conversely, it does not make sense to blame the Black Lives Matter activists for the murders that did occur.
Professor Clayton Mosher told ThinkProgress last month that police statistics are easily manipulated for political purposes. Mosher wrote a textbook called The Mismeasure of Crime, which details how crime rates are manipulated and misinterpreted.
Professional criminologists generally favor longer term trends over seasonal or yearly data, which is often just statistical noise.
Nevertheless, statistics about violence against cops have been used to tar a large group of overwhelmingly peaceful protesters as accessories to murder. In most cases, the motive for these murders has not even been determined. This is part of a larger issue with blaming large groups of people of color for the actions of individuals.
O’Reilly previously called Black Lives Matter a hate group and promised to put them out of business.