Chicago’s former top cop blames city murder rate on Black Lives Matter

In 2017, law enforcement continues to mischaracterize the movement.

Former police leader Garry McCarthy. CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Former police leader Garry McCarthy. CREDIT: AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

With 4,331 shooting victims and 762 gun-related homicides, Chicago just had its deadliest year in nearly two decades.

Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson has repeatedly said illegal guns and gang violence are responsible for the surge in shootings that occurred in 2016. But Johnson and his predecessor Garry McCarthy are starting off the new year by blaming another source: anti-police sentiment.

During a New Year’s Day press conference, Johnson said violent criminals are “emboldened” by anger directed toward police officers. He also said that crime increased because officers are reluctant to do their jobs out of fear of public scrutiny — a dispelled myth referred to as the Ferguson Effect.

“In Chicago, we just don’t have a deterrent to pick up a gun,” Johnson said.

McCarthy, who was booted from his position in response to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, echoed Johnson’s claims.

“So what’s happening, and this is ironic, is that a movement with the goal of saving black lives at this point is getting black lives taken, because 80 percent of our murder victims here in Chicago are male blacks,” he said, during a New Year’s Day radio interview, adding that BLM fuels lawlessness by advocating “non-compliance” with police. “The simplest way to describe it is that we have created an environment where we have emboldened criminals and we are hamstringing the police.”

In 2016, the number of fatal shootings in Chicago climbed 50 percent and outnumbered those in Los Angeles and New York City combined.

“Criminals watch TV, pay attention to the media,” Johnson said. “They see an opportunity to commit nefarious activity.”

But the claim that BLM is contributing to violent crime has no basis in reality.

BLM activists have said, time and time again, that the organization isn’t anti-police. The organization is specifically opposed to police violence and outspoken about crime within the black community itself.

“The idea that black-on-black crime is not a significant political conversation among black people is patently false,” reads BLM’s website. “The continued focus on black-on-black crime is a diversionary tactic, whose goal is to suggest that black people don’t have the right to be outraged about police violence in vulnerable black communities, because those communities have a crime problem. The Black Lives Matter movement acknowledges the crime problem, but it refuses to locate that crime problem as a problem of black pathology. Black people are not inherently more violent or more prone to crime than other groups.”

“Police officers are people. Their lives have inherent value. This movement is not an anti-people movement; therefore it is not an anti-police-officer movement,” the website says. “Thus the Black Lives Matter movement is not trying to make the world more unsafe for police officers; it hopes to make police officers less of a threat to communities of color.”

If BLM was encouraging more violent crime, then one might expect the crime rate to climb in cities where the movement is most active. But although violent crime rose slightly in 2015, the most recent year for which FBI crime data is available, the rate was still lower than it was 5 and 10 years ago. The homicide rate in the 30 largest U.S. cities increased in 2016, but gun violence in Chicago accounted for 43.7 percent of the shootings that caused the spike. Homicides are also down in some of the cities that previously contributed to a significant percentage of murders across the country and have active BLM members: Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and New York City.

In Los Angeles, where the homicide rate has increased in the past two years, officials attribute the violence to more homelessness and gang activity.

Nevertheless, law enforcement officials, conservative pundits, and lawmakers continue to warp BLM’s messaging.

During his campaign, president-elect Donald Trump called Black Lives Matter a threat and said the organization should be investigated. On Sunday, in response to news of Chicago’s latest statistics, he implied that the federal government will help the city if called upon.