On Thursday, April 6, a group of students coordinated a protest outside of the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College. The Athenaeum is known for hosting a wide variety of speakers who discuss issues usually pertaining to politics and economics. On Thursday, the speaker was supposed to be Heather Mac Donald, whose speech was titled “The War on Police.” A large group of students dissented this speech and, for the most part, peacefully protested outside the Athenaeum. There was shoving of students and professors who attempted to enter the building that was being barricaded by students. The Athenaeum event was officially cancelled, but they live-streamed her speech to the student body. Approximately 250 students watched her speech and their opinions varied on her speech. Some thought she was wrong and others thought she had valid arguments on the state of police protection.
After a few hours, the protests subsided, but while Heather Mac Donald was giving her live stream inside the building, many students pushed themselves against the window, chanting, “Black lives, they matter here!” and the like.
The Athenaeum doubles as a dinner for students who wish to sign up, and some of the students who were there for the formal event — not the protest — tried to reason with the protestors. Their questions were either ignored or returned to them with poignant mantra. The protesters not only blocked the entrances but also the fire and service exits; the people inside were trapped there until the protest broke up.
The protesters mostly wielded signs, but a few held megaphones, stirring up a chorus of protesters shouting in unison. One of the favorites were, “No cops, no KKK, no fascist USA!”
Robbie Aronoff, a student at Claremont McKenna College, reported that “[e]veryone should be allowed the freedom of speech and assembly, and I think that tonight these people, while protesting for what may be a good cause, denied people the right to speak and assemble. I think that black lives do matter, but I don’t think that this is the right way to go showing that black lives matter.” His sentiment is one many other observers shared. Other students who were not a part of the protests made similar statements about their concern for freedom of speech and the right to assembly. Whenever interviewers tried to gather statements from the protestors, they received no legitimate answers.
ARGUMENT (Declared Bias: Right Authoritarian)
On Thursday, as many as hundreds of Claremont college students attempted to prevent Heather Mac Donald from speaking at the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum at Claremont McKenna College (CMC). However, the event continued via livestream, which, in combination with being uploaded to CMC’s website, inevitably reached far more viewers than could fit in the Athenaeum (the website accumulated over 1600 viewers in less than a day, including almost 250 from the livestream). While the protestors ultimately failed their attempt to suppress freedom of speech, they succeeded in missing the salient and thought-provoking arguments espoused by Mrs. Mac Donald.
Mac Donald provided statistics that puncture the prevailing narrative regarding policing in America advocated by well-known groups such as Black Lives Matter. The continued demonization of the policing community only serves to hurt the very communities that Black Lives Matter is supposed to represent. Since Ferguson, an anti-cop narrative has been rapidly spreading across the country, painting cops as racist pigs, asserting that they are a danger to African Americans. But the statistics simply don’t support this fearmongering. In fact, whites make up almost 50% of the population killed by police, compared to only 26% who were black. And, in the top 75 most populated counties in the United States, 62% of robbery defendants, 57% of murder defendants, and 45% of assault defendants were black, despite blacks accounting for only 15% of the total population of those counties . This data corroborates the findings by Harvard Economist Roland Fryer, who showed that there is no racial disparity in officer-involved shootings (though African Americans and Latinx Americans are more likely to experience non-lethal force than their caucasian counterparts) . Additionally, black cops are more than 3.3 times more likely to fire their weapons at a crime scene, compared to their white counterparts, further debunking the prevailing caricatures of trigger-happy white men in blue.
"...black cops are more than 3.3 times more likely to fire their weapons at a crime scene, compared to their white counterparts, further debunking the prevailing caricatures of trigger-happy white men in blue."
Anti-police rhetoric has deadly consequences for our public servants across the nation. One hundred and thirty-five police officers died in 2016, 64 of which in firearm-related incidents. Twenty-one of those who were killed lost their lives in deliberate ambush-style attacks, the largest of which being the death of five police officers in an attack in Dallas  — That marked the single deadliest day for law enforcement since 9/11 . As Mac Donald pointed out, anti-police rhetoric has placed cops in a dangerous environment. This adds to the pressure and stress of their job, increasing the likelihood that police officers fear for their lives and fire their gun in what they believe to be self-defense. Facts show that cops are over 18 times more likely to be killed by a black criminal than they are to kill an unarmed black person in U.S. . Furthermore, statistics referencing “unarmed” black men ignore instances in which “unarmed” does not necessarily imply “not a threat.” A man shot and killed after wrestling with a police officer and trying to grab the officer’s gun will go down in statistics as an unarmed kill, even though the victim was highly dangerous and the officer was in danger of losing his life. Yet, even without this accounted for, it is still the police officers who are in danger of being killed.
By chanting rhyming slogans and attempting to paint all police officers with a wide brush, activists are missing the larger consequences of their actions. As more police officers fear for their jobs and for their lives, they will become more hesitant to police areas where violent crime is known to occur. Homicides rose by double-digit percentages in 2015 and by 17% last year, and many urban cities are seeing drastic increases in crime rates . Chicago, for example, has seen thousands shot last year, and many urban cities are seeing the same worrisome trend. The police are one of the biggest defenders of minority lives. Black-on-black crime is the biggest threat to African-American communities, and the data suggest that it’s not even a close comparison. Almost 4,500 in the black community are killed by other black people, compared to an average of 120 blacks killed by cops a year . While these are certainly two separate issues and working to solve both is possible, I question the intent of those protesting from within the comfort of an elite liberal arts college in Southern California. If the goal of these protestors was to truly protect African Americans as they claimed a few nights ago, they should be out protesting gangs, drugs, failing inner-city school systems, and a political establishment that has ignored the disproportionately high death rates among African Americans before criticizing the police — the very people sworn to serve and protect against these problems. Without the police within these communities protecting innocent lives, more innocent black lives will be cut short, and the death rate within the black community is likely to keep growing. The damage Black Lives Matter threatens to do to African-American communities across the nation is enormous.
"The damage Black Lives Matter threatens to do to African-American communities across the nation is enormous."
The protests at CMC failed to accomplish anything resembling the stated goals of “peace and safety” and did nothing to help the protesters’ cause. In fact, it seems to suggest the fact that they are unwilling to engage in the marketplace of ideas while indicating their reliance on pathos and emotion instead of logic and facts. If the protestors were as confident in their arguments as they appear, they should welcome an opportunity to embarrass an opposing voice with facts; instead, they simply tried to shut down Mrs. Mac Donald. The fact of the matter is this, the statistics point to an inconvenient truth, one that Black Lives Matter is trying to suppress, and one that threatens the anti-police narrative that is being pushed forward. When faced with an inconvenient truth, will they face it? If this country continues to run from hard data, problems will continue unsolved and more innocent lives will be lost.
Photography by Jen Hanki