Submitted by Stephen McBride Of The Passing Parade
Ferguson, Baltimore, Ferguson (again), Milwaukee, Charlotte. Much has been made by the media of the recent riots that have taken place across America.
Which begs the question: Are these riots passing occurrences or, like a series of smaller seismic events, a forewarning of much larger mass civil unrest to come? For the answers, we take a quick trip back in time.
Watts the Problem?
Although today’s “flash” riots are increasingly common, they pale in comparison to what took place in the Los Angeles suburb of Watts in 1965 where over six days of rioting and looting 34 people died, 3,500 were arrested, and over $40 million in property damage was done ($300 million in 2016 dollars).
The riots were sparked when black motorist Marquette Frye was arrested for drunk driving. Locals watched on as the incident unfolded, with word quickly spreading that police had assaulted Frye and a pregnant woman, triggering the Watts riots. Although Frye’s arrest set off the riots, it was merely the straw that broke the camel’s back, unleashing decades of pent-up frustration within the black ghetto.
Starting in the 1920s, large populations of black people migrated north to cities such as Detroit, St. Louis, and Los Angeles to pursue jobs in newly established manufacturing industries. In LA, the black population jumped from 4% in 1940, to 14% in 1965. But there was a problem.
LA had long had restrictive covenants preventing blacks from buying and renting property in certain areas. By 1950, around 90% of housing was off limits to black people, effectively concentrating the black immigrants to the city into ghettos such as Watts. By 1965, the city’s expanding black population had had enough of the living conditions and general lack of opportunities.
At the time, Watts had a 33% unemployment rate, much higher than the national average of 4.5%. Although there were large manufacturing companies in the area, such as General Motors, only 14% of LA’s population owned a car, with most having to use the dreadful public transport system. It took over four hours on public transport to get from Watts to the GM factory, just 22 miles away.
There were also extremely poor living conditions in Watts. Multiple families regularly shared one-bedroom houses. 65% of all tuberculosis cases in LA came from Watts, and infant mortality was 22% higher than the national average. There was also widespread crime, with over half the black male population having a criminal record.
These appalling conditions set the stage for the now legendary Watts riots. But even those riots pale in comparison to the events that took place 27 years later.
The Infamous South Central Riots
Following the acquittal of four policemen on trial for the beating of Rodney King, six days of mass looting, arson, and rioting took place in South Central LA. The California National Guard, the 1st Marine Division, and the 7th Infantry Division had to be called in to quell the unrest, which resulted in 55 deaths, 11,000 arrests, and over $1 billion in property damage. But once again, the Rodney King incident was only the spark that lit the flame in LA.
In the decade preceding the LA riots, large manufacturers such as GM and Goodyear relocated, resulting in huge job losses in the area. To compound the misery, the city was hit hard by the 1991 recession. LA, with a population of 3.4 million, lost over 108,000 jobs between 1991 and 1992.
The combination of exiting manufacturing companies and the recession left 45% of South Central’s black population unemployed, with 31% of black families living below the poverty line. In addition, the average wage in the area was 50% lower than in the rest of LA.
Even 27 years after the Watts riots, police brutality was still widespread in the area. Between 1986 and 1990, there were 2,152 claims of police brutality. Only 42 were ever investigated. There was also an ongoing crack epidemic, which along with AIDS actually decreased the rising life expectancy among black Americans by two years between the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. The 758 liquor stores situated in the neighborhood didn’t help matters either.
Furthermore, in part because of the soaring drug use, Los Angeles found itself the epicenter of vicious street violence. Between 1991 and 1992, there were over 2,100 homicides. For comparison, in 2015 the number of homicides was a still-too-high 600.
But that was then, and this is now.
Given the attention recent riots have garnered in the media, and the creation of groups such as Black Lives Matter (BLM), one would think the social and economic decay for black Americans has continued. But that narrative would be misleading because conditions have improved considerably.
- Life expectancy for black Americans at the time of the Watts riots was 65, today it’s 76. The three-year gap with white Americans is the lowest ever, with the gap being reduced by four years since 1992.
- The poverty rate has declined by 23% since 1965, with the rate actually increasing by 1% for white Americans.
- Today, 87% of black Americans graduate high school, compared to just 25% of all Americans in 1965.
- College enrollment has increased by 72% for blacks since 1992.
- The death-by-homicide rate has declined by 40% since 1992, vs. a 28% drop for whites.
- The infant mortality rate has decreased by one-fifth since the 1990s.
- Homeownership has increased 14% since 1965, to 42%, though it is still well below the 71% for whites.
So, given the improvements in quality of life for black Americans, why have recent riots occurred?
The (Not So Hidden) Agenda
The recent riots that have taken place across America have largely been in response to real and perceived injustices against black Americans by law enforcement. Black Lives Matter (BLM), founded in 2013 after the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident, has been a prominent force in the riots.
While we have all heard of BLM by now, in an attempt to find out what they actually stand for, we present the description the group itself provides on its website:
#BlackLivesMatter is a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society. Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all.
So, in addition to the meme that BLM is a response to the killing of black people by police, its mandate leaks over into the whole politically correct gender identity morass.
We will ignore the gender identity issue, because the question of whether a transsexual is a better advocate for the black community than a “cis” male (for the unenlightened among you, that simply means a person who identifies with the sex they are born with) is unlikely to spark riots. Instead, we turn to the notion that racist white police officers have declared open season on unarmed black men. So how bad, really, is the problem?
As you can see in the chart, so far in 2016 there have been 238 white people killed by police, compared to 123 black people.
The media correctly cites that “blacks are only 13% of the population” to suggest the above statistics prove active targeting of blacks by police. Sadly, it is also true that blacks commit violent crime at a far higher rate than their percentage of the population. According to FBI statistics, 47% of all murders in the US are committed by blacks, with the vast majority—90%—of their victims also being black.
However, there is no reason to let the facts interfere with the narrative. Even a casual glance at the headlines reveals the media are playing a dangerous game of race-baiting, cherry-picking incidents where blacks are the victims of whites.
Take, for example, the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case. The media repeatedly reported that Zimmerman is white, even though he is Hispanic. NBC went so far as to edit the phone call made to police by Zimmerman so it sounded like he was “racially profiling” Martin. Finally, they used pictures that portrayed Martin as a young boy, whilst showing Zimmerman in an orange jail suit.
The media used the same tactics when reporting on the Michael Brown incident in Ferguson. They consistently ran with the “Hands up, don’t shoot” narrative that Officer Darren Wilson had killed Michael Brown execution-style. This was, of course, later found to be false.
Although the media are the ones distorting the facts, they are not the only ones guilty of deliberately stirring the pot of racial tensions.
Identity politics is a game politicians love to play.
On Hillary Clinton’s campaign website, her racial-justice plan is almost twice as long as her economic plan. You will also find racial notes dotted throughout all her various proposals: “African Americans hold only 1.1 percent of energy jobs and receive only 0.01 percent of energy sector profits,” in case you were wondering.
After the recent police shootings in Tulsa, OK, and Charlotte, NC, and before all the facts had been released, Clinton took to Twitter to condemn the shootings.
Similar comments have been made by President Obama. Speaking the morning after Trayvon Martin was killed, he said “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
But the liberal elites don’t just talk the talk. They put their money where their mouth is.
Follow the Money
Black Lives Matter, which has been involved in riots from Ferguson to Charlotte, has received more than $50 million in funding from liberal foundations. In August of this year, The Ford Foundation and Borealis Philanthropy announced the formation of the Black-Led Movement Fund. This fund aims to raise an additional $100 million for the Black Lives coalition over the next six years.
This funding comes in addition to the $33 million given to BLM by top Democratic donor George Soros, though his Open Society Foundations.
Indeed, so committed are the Democrats and their donors to playing the race card to shore up their voting blocks, they have gone so far as to pay protesters during this election cycle. The recent DNC leaks exposed that the Democrats were paying protesters to disrupt Trump rallies, including devising a plan to spend over $800,000 to interrupt the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
The recent riots in Charlotte also had outside help. A police spokesperson said of the protesters, “They were coming in on buses from out of state. If you go back and look at some of the arrests that were made last night. I can about say probably 70% of those had out-of-state IDs. They’re not coming from Charlotte.”
Black Votes Matter
Politicians play the identity politics game for good reason: it gets them elected.
Black Americans vote overwhelmingly Democrat. You have to travel back to the last time a Clinton was running for president, 1996, to find a blacks-voting-Democrat ratio under 90%.
With black Americans making up 13% of the population and a voter turnout of around 60%, that’s 25 million votes. If the GOP had secured even 20% of the black vote in 2008, or 15% in 2012, it would have been enough to win the race.
The Democrats must continually receive over 85% of the black vote in order to win. More importantly, they also need a high turnout on election day. Black voters turned out in force for Obama—62% in 2008, an 11% increase on the 2004 turnout.
But there’s a problem for Hillary. All the pandering in the world, like telling reporters, “I always carry hot sauce with me” when asked what she brought on trips, won’t make her Obama. So can Hillary expect the same levels of black-voter turnout that Obama was able to garner? The polls suggest not.
In a recent group of polls from Florida, Clinton was polling at less than 80% with black residents. Leslie Wimes, the South Florida-based president of the Democratic African-American Women’s Caucus said the Clinton camp is in “full panic mode,” as Clinton needs a high black turnout to secure the state.
But there’s another way to ensure people turn out: keep them angry, resentful, and make them feel they have something to gain from voting. Just like when Donald Trump appeals to the emotions of people who have lost their jobs to globalism, Hillary appeals to people who have been the victims of “historical injustices.”
The Democrats, with the help of wealthy liberal donors, have done just that by directly funding groups such as Black Lives Matter, which maliciously stir up racial tensions and make rioting their job.
Which returns us to the question of whether America is on the verge of mass civil unrest.
Good for Another Few Miles
Recent riots have been encouraged by political brinksmanship and the race-baiting media, which have done their best to raise the profile of BLM and effectively make them the new official spokespersons for the minority of blacks in America who are unhappy with their overall lot in life.
Yet, the protests are nowhere near the severity of those seen in LA in 1965 or 1992, exactly because the conditions for most black Americans have greatly improved.
Any thinking person, no matter what race, understands there is a serious economic price for these riots, a price that is paid by hard-working people through business closures and damage to real estate values. In Baltimore, there was only $20 million in direct damage, but over 380 businesses were forced to close as a result, with only 40% expected to open back up. Tourism in the city has dropped around 15% since. That is economic pain that will extend well into the future.
Property owners and businesspeople in Ferguson also took a big hit. Real estate prices have declined 47% since 2014, and local sales have dropped 80%. And the pain is far from over as few new businesses are going to be willing to invest in the town, given the obvious risks.
Maybe, if politicians stopped promoting dangerous and largely untrue memes in order to gain black votes, race relations would improve as much as the conditions for most black Americans have over the past 51 years.
In conclusion, despite what the media and politicians would have you believe, because of the broader economic gains, the US is highly unlikely to experience anything more than localized outbreaks by malcontents looking for trouble and maybe a broken-window discount at the expense of the local businesses.
I remember when I was going to my family doctor as a child. After treating me for whatever ailed me, he would say, “Well, you’re good for another few miles.”
Likewise, although we have seen a pick-up in unrest, America appears to be “good for another few miles.”