Speaking in Warsaw, where he will meet tomorrow with NATO leaders, President Barack Obama took time out to express his condolences over the police shootings of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota. A federal investigation is looking into the shooting death by white police officers of Alton Sterling, a black man who had been alleged to be carrying a gun.
President Obama said all Americans should be "troubled" by the two police shooting deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, which he called "symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities" within the United States. "We have seen news like this too many times," Obama said. "All of us as Americans should be troubled by these shootings. These are not isolated incidents. They're symptomatic of a broader set of racial disparities that exist in our criminal justice system."
To illustrate his argument that black Americans and Latinos are inordinately subjected to violence by police, he used statistics to show that Latinos and Black Americans are at a significantly higher risk of being shot by police than whites, and for being stopped by police.
What he did not mention are the statistics that show that violent crime is at a significantly higher rate among black Americans than among Latinos and whites.
The US Census does a breakdown of the American population according to race and ethnicity. The white-only population, according to the 2010 census, is 63%. At the same time, whites including Hispanics amounts to 77.9%.
The breakdown by percentage is as follows:
However, the FBI includes Latinos with whites when reporting crime, and show great disparities between that aggregated group and among blacks in the commission of violent crimes. Here follows a comparison of the percentage of crime committed in the U.S. according to the categories cited by the FBI in 2010:
Forcible rape 65.7
Aggravated assault 63.7
Weapons (carrying, etc.) 58.2
Forcible rape 31.8
Aggravated assault 33.5
Weapons (carrying, etc) 40.1
Black Americans comprised only about 13% of the population in 2012, but their overall share of crimes committed eclipses all other races, aside from whites, which comprise with Latinos 77.9% of the national population.
However, blacks and whites commit nonviolent crimes, such as DWI/alcohol offenses, at rates nearly identical to their representative population. However, blacks commit violent crimes at a rate many times higher than their representative population, while whites tend to commit them at a rate markedly lower than their representative population.
Critics of law enforcement frequently contend that white Americans escape prosecution and imprisonment at higher rates that blacks. But statistics suggest otherwise. Besides white Americans, Asians, Hawaiians, Native Americans and every other race reveal crime rates consistent (or even much lower than) their representative population. If systemic racism were indeed true, the other races would thus not be arrested, tried and convicted according to their representation in the overall American population. The non-white groups, if the accusations of systemic racism were altogether true, would also show higher rates. But they aren't.
It is not logical to assert that crime victims would intentionally report crimes incorrectly and attribute them to someone of a different race, unless the victim were actually hoping nobody would get caught. It is apparent that acts of aggression and violence are far greater in incidence within the black American community than in others.
President Obama has called for a national discussion on the use of firearms, and on what he said is the disparity in the rate of shootings of black Americans by police officers as compared to the rate among other segments of the population. He cited studies and what he called “facts” to support his thesis. The above statistics should be included in the facts under discussion while Americans seek to find ways to effectively stem crime but assure their Constitutional rights.
Obama justly pointed out failing schools, and unemployment, as being among the injustices suffered especially by black Americans and Latinos in the United States. As part of the discussion over such injustices, there should also be discussion not only over the injustices Obama cited, but also the decades-long series of policies stemming from President Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” programs that set the country on a course of public expenditures on social welfare and other projects that have arguably led to the dissolution of black American families and hope in black American communities.