Saturday, August 05, 2023



In May 2020, the world was turned upside down when a massively-overdosed George Floyd died on a Minneapolis street while waiting for an ambulance that could have saved his life. The narrative that Minnesota’s criminal justice system was biased against blacks immediately took hold, encouraged by Minnesota’s own state and local officials.

In response to that narrative, states and local jurisdictions across America, and even around the world, enacted “reforms” that handcuffed law enforcement and favored criminals. “Defund the police” became a mantra, and Black Lives Matter, the source of many claims of law enforcement’s discrimination against blacks, raked in tens of millions from corporate donors.

But was the narrative of racial discrimination true? Liberals supported it by comparing the percentage of blacks in the general population of states like Minnesota against the percentage who are caught up in the criminal justice system through arrest, prosecution, conviction and ultimately incarceration. The fact that blacks are over-represented in the system–indisputably true–was taken as irrefutable evidence that our criminal justice system is racist.

There is, of course, another obvious possibility–that blacks are over-represented as criminal defendants and prison inmates precisely because they are over-represented as perpetrators of serious crimes. Over the years, Heather Mac Donald has been especially prominent in pointing out this inconvenient truth.

Here in Minnesota, ground zero when it comes to anti-law enforcement propaganda, there was a breakthrough when the state’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension began publishing data on offenders in each criminal category by race. When we look at the percentage of blacks (or any other group) who are arrested, prosecuted, convicted, etc., the relevant comparison is not between those individuals and the percentage of that group in the general population, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding. Rather, the relevant comparison is the percentage who become involved in the criminal justice system vs. the percentage in the offender population. The BCA’s new data set allowed us to make this comparison.

Enter David Zimmer. David is a veteran of 33 years in the Hennepin County Sheriff’s office, from which he retired as a Captain. He now works for American Experiment as a Policy Fellow in Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice. David went through the painstaking work of analyzing the BCA’s offender data and comparing it with arrest, prosecution, conviction, sentencing and incarceration data, which come from various sources. What he found should put to rest forever the theory that law enforcement in states like Minnesota is biased against blacks.

The BCA offender data show that blacks commit serious crimes at a per capita rate ten times that of whites. That proportion is followed from arrests through incarceration, except that David’s analysis finds that Minnesota’s criminal justice system discriminates–in a statistical sense–against whites, as compared with blacks.

The report is here. Some might find it boring, as it consists largely of statistical analysis and charts and graphs. But if you enjoy seeing a liberal narrative dismantled brick by brick, David’s report is for you.

We issued a press release on David’s report, but shockingly, neither the Minneapolis Star Tribune nor any other liberal news outlet took us up on the opportunity to interview Zimmer, or published any reference to the report. That’s OK. We know whose side those outlets are on. They are on the side of the perpetrators of serious crimes, not the victims. David’s report concludes with the fact that the victims of serious crime line up the same as the perpetrators–on a per capita basis, victims are ten times as likely to be black. So the liberals are hurting those they pretend to care about.

American Experiment has inaugurated a podcast, and the podcast’s maiden voyage features me interviewing David Zimmer. If you would rather spend 26 minutes listening to us talk about the report rather than reading it–probably not a bad idea–here is the podcast in video form: