For over two years, since August 2014, violent criminal activity has increased at an alarming rate in American cities, affecting minorities the most. FBI Director James Comey thinks the main cause of this violent crime wave is the “Ferguson Effect.” The Ferguson Effect refers to how policemen have changed how they deal with citizens after the events in Ferguson, Missouri. President Obama disagrees that there is a Ferguson Effect. Researcher and writer Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute was the first to name and define the Ferguson Effect and has done extensive research on this subject.
In one incident in August 2014, suspect Michael Brown repeatedly attacked a policeman in Missouri and attempted to steal his gun. After refusing to listen to the police officer, Michael Brown charged with his head lowered, and was shot dead. Local prosecutors and President Obama’s Department of Justice investigated and concluded that the police officer acted appropriately to defend himself. Unfortunately, many asserted the policeman was a white racist and killed a black man because of his race. There has never been any evidence to back up this claim of racism.
Immediately after the shooting, many falsely claimed the policeman was a racist, and rioters destroyed parts of Ferguson, Missouri, burning business, looting, and attacking policemen. Political leaders made statements that appeared they approved of the rioting. Nearly a year after the incident, and after the Department of Justice investigated, President Obama stated, “We may never know what really happened in Ferguson,” implying the findings of the Justice Department were not complete.
After the events in Ferguson, “Black Lives Matter” was born. Black Lives Matter is an organization that aims to teach others that policemen are targeting blacks, killing blacks, racists, and that America needs to radically change to stop the murder and oppression of blacks by policemen. Black Lives Matter (BLM) rejects the American justice system’s findings in the Michael Brown case. Members of BLM organize protests, write articles, and spread their beliefs in news media.
Beginning in the 1990s, police departments, beginning with the NYPD, implemented changes in how policemen worked and the rate of crime drastically declined. Police became actively involved in preventing crime, confronting those who appeared to be planning crime, frisking suspects, and handing out infractions for minor infractions, like vandalism. Combined with structural changes within the departments, these actions led to a dramatic drop in crime.
However, since the incident in Ferguson and the birth of Black Lives Matter, Researcher Heather MacDonald asserts that policemen have changed how they work, and this has been the main reason for the major spike in violent crime. After the negative press coverage from the Ferguson incident, policemen are now unable, or unwilling, to continue their work as before. When working, especially in major cities with large populations of minorities, policemen are confronted with loud, jeering mobs. Bottles or rocks are thrown at policemen working in the most dangerous areas. Because of this hostile, anti-police atmosphere, policemen are afraid to act because they might be accused of racism. This is known as the Ferguson Effect.
Many claim one result of the police change has been a steep increase of violent crime in America. Since 2015, in the nation’s largest cities, murders are up 17 percent. Milwaukee had its deadliest year in a decade, and Baltimore’s per capita homicide rate was the highest ever, with a 72% increase. Murders are up in Cleveland by 90% over the previous year.
President Obama disagrees with FBI Director Comey whether there is a Ferguson Effect and if there is a spike in violent crime. Obama has announced that there is no Ferguson Effect, and he appears to agree with BLM that there is a racist problem in American police forces. Comey, who works under President Obama, stands by his argument that it is because of the Ferguson effect that policemen have backed off from the proactive police procedures that limit crime.
Great Discussion Questions You Can Ask Your Kids
- What is the Ferguson effect and who believes it is the main cause of the spike of violent crime in America?
- Who does not believe the Ferguson effect is the main reason for the spike of violent crime?
- Who is Black Lives Matter?
- What happened in Ferguson, Missouri that inspired Black Lives Matter?
- In your opinion, what is the main cause of the spike in violent crime?
By John De Gree of www.classicalhistorian.com Copyright 2016. All Rights Reserved.