It took several months for the first iteration of the Ferguson Effect to become obvious. Michael Brown was fatally shot by a Ferguson, Missouri, police officer in August 2014, triggering local riots and a national narrative about lethally racist police. Officers backed off proactive policing in minority neighborhoods, having been told that such discretionary enforcement was racially oppressive. By early 2015, the resulting spike in shootings and homicides had become patent and would lead to an additional 2,000 black homicide victims in 2015 and 2016, compared with 2014 numbers.
Today’s violent-crime increase — call it Ferguson Effect 2.0 or the Minneapolis Effect — has come on with a speed and magnitude that make Ferguson 1.0 seem tranquil. George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police in late May was justly condemned — but the event has now spurred an outpouring of contempt against the pillars of law and order that has no precedent in American history. Every day, another mainstream institution — from McDonald’s to Harvard — denounces the police, claiming without evidence that law enforcement is a threat to black lives.
To be sure, the first manifestation of the Black Lives Matter movement had a mouthpiece in the Oval Office, lacking now. It doesn’t matter. Presidential imprimatur or no, the reborn Black Lives Matter has gained billions of dollars in corporate support, more billions in free round-the-clock media promotion, and a ruthless power to crush dissent from the now-universal narrative about murderous police bigots.
During the two weeks of national anarchy that followed the death of George Floyd, cops were shot, slashed, and assaulted; their vehicles and station houses were firebombed and destroyed. American elites stayed silent. Since then, police have continued to be shot at and attacked; the elites remain silent. Monuments to America’s greatest leaders are being defaced with impunity; anarchists took over a significant swathe of a major American city, including a police precinct, without resistance from the authorities. And a push to defund the police gains traction by the day.
Heather Mac Donald is the Thomas W. Smith fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor at City Journal, and the author of the bestselling War on Cops and The Diversity Delusion. This piece was adapted from City Journal. Follow her on Twitter here.
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