Presiden t Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met Tuesday in the Oval Office with the family of George Floyd, the man who died one year ago in the custody of Minneapolis police. The occasion is an opportunity to look at the enormous upheaval the reaction to Floyd’s death has caused in the last year.
First, wall-to-wall media coverage of Floyd’s death gave Americans a distorted picture of the extent of police violence. Unlike Floyd, most people who die in interactions with police are killed by gunfire. And fatal police shootings of unarmed civilians, black or white, are exceedingly rare. As the Manhattan Institute’s Heather Mac Donald has pointed out, 14 unarmed black people and 25 unarmed white people were killed by police in 2019. That number, 14, represented two-tenths of 1 percent of black homicide victims in that year. It was also down significantly from previous years. And the toll of all those killed, of course, included a significant number of white victims as well as black.