Neal

Jeff Neal

I know there will be outcry from some folks about the Commonwealth Journal editorial you will see on this page.

Some will say we should’ve slammed NFL players who use the National Anthem as a platform for protest, a la Trump.

Some will say we should’ve firmly stood behind the players and their First Amendment rights to protest peacefully.

We just want the problem solved.

What is the problem? Why do black players kneel in protest?

Because there has been a lot of attention in the national media dealing with

police brutality, including fatal shootings, against black suspects.

This is a problem that is deep, dark and has many sub-issues.

This isn’t just about police killing black people. This is about society — some

people live in poverty-stricken areas which breeds crime and corruption.

Do police kill more black people than white people?

Yes and no.

According to recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white

people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population.

As The Washington Post noted in an analysis, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.

The jump is obvious — blacks are profiled by police and thus are at a greater risk of being killed during an incident.

But, statistically speaking, blacks are also more likely to commit violent crimes.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black offenders committed 52 percent of homicides recorded in the data between 1980 and 2008. Only 45 percent of the offenders were white.

Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and also to be the victims. In 2008 the offending rate for blacks was seven times higher than for whites. Blacks were also six times more likely to be the victims than

whites.

Many claim that if you’re black, you have a better chance of ending up behind bars after a run-in with law enforcement.

But studies have indicated that the proportion of black suspects arrested by the police tends to match closely the proportion of offenders identified as black by victims in the National Crime Victimization Survey.

Why are these numbers so skewed for blacks, who make up just 13 percent of the U.S. population?

Some criminologists think we could be simply confusing race for poverty or inequality: black people tend to offend more because they tend to be more disadvantaged, living in poorer urban areas with less access to public services.

A study of violent crime in deprived neighborhoods in Cleveland, Ohio, found that reductions in poverty led to reductions in the crime rate in exactly the same way in predominantly black and white areas. That suggests poverty,

not race, is the biggest factor.

I would guess there are some neighborhoods right here in Pulaski County — most predominantly white — which have much higher crime rates than others. And they’re most likely neighborhoods where the residents are impoverished.

Is this to say there is no racism in law enforcement or the criminal court system? No, that would be naive.

But the problem that has led to the high-profile act of kneeling during an anthem isn’t just a black problem and it isn’t just a police problem.

It’s a problem for all of us. We need to stop pointing fingers and try to make things better for all Americans.

JEFF NEAL is the Commonwealth Journal Editor. He can

be reached at jneal@somerset-kentucky.com. Follow him on

Twitter at @jnealCJ.

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