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.
Do Black lives matter to Democrats? As Tim Alberta recently reported, a lot of Black voters think the answer is no. That may explain why the Democrats are blocking the GOP justice reform bill in the Senate: With Black voters already discouraged, Democrats don’t want them to get the idea that Republicans may have something to offer.
Alberta’s reporting, in Politico, is striking. At the invitation of a local African-American politico, he spent an afternoon with a bunch of middle-class Black voters outside Detroit. He found they were disappointed in the Democrats, thought nothing much had changed for them during the Obama presidency, and expected Trump to win even though they planned to vote for Biden themselves.
Democrats haven’t actually helped Black communities
As a woman named Ursura Moore observed: “Some people thought just because we had a Black president, he was going to make things better for Black people — he was going to free Black prisoners, wipe out Black debt. That was just ignorance. But the disappointment some of us felt with Obama — more so with the Democratic Party —that was real. And it hasn’t gone away. So, people start to wonder whether the outcome even matters. They wonder whether they should bother voting at all.”
Eric Benjamin commented: “Biden’s a politician, same as the rest of them, same as Trump. But at least with Trump you know where he stands,” he said. “If we were sitting here, me and you, and you’re pretending we’re friends, but then behind my back, you act like you don’t even know me, that’s the worst. I’d much rather you just tell me to my face that we’re not friends. That’s Trump. I respect that. The Democrats always be acting like we’re friends.”
And, most damningly, Sherry Gay-Dagnogo said: “We’re always the f—— help! And I’m tired of being the help!” she cried. “Don’t wait until it’s an election year, until you’re in trouble, to come to us and ask for help saving your a–. They always say it will be different after the next election. But it never is. And we’re sick of it.”