Peter Van Buren

Which black lives matter?

We’ve learned nothing since George Floyd’s death


Do black lives really matter… to black people? Yesterday marked the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer, setting off a wave of protests under the anthemic banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’. The narrative of young black men being killed across America by white cops was strong and inspired a Covid-summer full of protests and promises of change.

Now New York’s mayor Eric Adams has finally said the quiet part out loud. Adams slammed Black Lives Matter and anti-police activists after a recent night of bloodshed across the city that saw more than a dozen people shot. ‘Where are all those who stated “Black Lives Matter”?’ Adams said. ‘The victims were all black’. Three people were killed and 13 others wounded. Zero were shot by police officers. ‘The lives of these black children that are dying every night matter,’ Adams said. ‘We can’t be hypocrites.’

Well, well, there’s a change from the rhetoric that in 2020 led to New York defunding the police, disbanding special gun control units (now being reinstated by Mayor Adams), reducing or eliminating bail for most common crimes, and, a few years earlier, bringing to an end ‘stop-and-frisk’. Once upon a time, taken together, whether by blind luck, racist intent, or practical policing, all those things lowered the crime rate in New York. Then, baby, meet bathwater.

    The dead include more and more young people. This is because gang-related activity drives much of the shooting in the city

    The spate of killings this spring (coming just days after a mentally ill black man injured more than ten people in the subway by firing 33 shots and setting off smoke bombs) match the spate that set records last April; it seems spring brings out the shooters. New York City saw its bloodiest week since the first anniversary of Floyd’s death, with 46 separate shooting incidents, a 300

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    Written by
    Peter Van Buren
    Peter Van Buren is the author of ‘We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People’, ‘Hooper’s War: A Novel of WWII Japan’ and ‘Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the 99 Percent’.

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