In Response to “An American Pogrom”
After I posted parts 1 and 2 of “An American Pogrom,” a reader sent me links to a couple of articles by Hannah Elka Meyers.
Opposing Criminal Justice Reform
The first of these two articles was published on 2/16/2023 in the New York Post, a right wing paper owned by Rupert Murdoch. In it, Meyers argues that criminal justice reforms instituted in 2020 have caused a huge rise in violence within the Black community in New York, saying that “Violent victimization in New York City is perennially a black problem.”
Let’s take a look at her arguments, and compare with the actual facts.
Actual Results of Criminal Justice Reform
The 2020 changes that Ms. Meyers opposes include bail reform. Bail is eliminated for most misdemeanors and non-violent felonies. When judges do set bail, they have to take ability to pay into account. Except in cases where the accused are considered a flight risk, they are presumed to be entitled to release on own recognizance (ROR)—meaning they do not have to put up bail money.
Per a study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice (part of the City University of New York), this reform had mixed success. After the reform, judges actually released fewer people on their own recognizance and required higher amounts of bail, despite the law requiring them to consider ability to pay. Moreover, although Black people generally have lower income than whites, the judges set consistently higher rates of bail for them.
And how could eliminating bail for non-violent crimes result in an increase in violence, anyway? It didn’t, as it happens. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School, “In 2020, the New York City Police Department claimed that bail reform and recent jail releases had led to an increase in shootings. But…the NYPD’s own statistics proved otherwise. Between January and late June 2020, per the NYPD data ‘just one person released under the statewide bail reform laws’ had been charged with a shooting.”
The Brennan Center also notes that during 2019-2020, violent crime did increase in New York—just as it did all over the country, “in communities of all sizes, political alignments, and geographies.” The national murder rate rose by roughly 30 percent. New York’s rate was actually lower than average.
Divide and Conquer
Ms. Meyer’s second article appeared on July 21, 2021 in Tablet, an on-line magazine focused on Jewish news and culture. In it she states that Jews nationwide are rallying behind the idea that “…’systemic’ racism lies behind every police interaction with Black civilians in America.” Really? She doesn’t back up that assertion with any studies. I certainly haven’t seen reports of any such movement among Jews.
She then cites government statistics that “35.9% of serious, nonfatal violent crimes are committed by Black offenders—disproportionate to their percentage of the population (around 13.4%).” However, she ignores what Harvard Professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad wrote in 2019, as quoted in the Harvard Gazette in 2021: “’History shows that crime data was never objective in any meaningful sense.’ Instead, crime statistics were ‘weaponized’ to justify racial profiling, police brutality, and ever more policing of Black people.” From the same article (cited in my previous post, but this bears repeating): “Police patrolled Black neighborhoods and arrested Black people disproportionately; prosecutors indicted Black people disproportionately; juries found Black people guilty disproportionately; judges gave Black people disproportionately long sentences.”
Ms. Meyers goes on to state that Jews “rallying” behind the Black Lives Matter movement makes it “more acceptable to discriminate against and assault Jews, who may eventually find fewer police officers around to protect them.” In other words, instead of supporting Black Lives Matter, Jews should rally behind the police, who will protect them against the criminal element, which, again, she sees as disproportionally Black.
Meyers does say that Black people are the demographic most affected by the violence of what, in the first article, she called a very tiny slice of their own community. But I fail to see how all the years of police stopping and frisking, beating, and shooting has done anything to make Black communities safer.
As I read the article, and discovered her assertions to be both untrue and repellent, I had to ask, “Who is this Helen Elka Meyers?” It turns out that she is “director of policing and public safety at the Manhattan Institute. She spent a decade managing analytical teams at a private investigations firm and at NYPD’s Intelligence Bureau.” In other words, she’s a cop herself.
And what is the Manhattan Institute?
To be continued…