When Policy Gets Woke
Episode 5 of “Wokeness, Public Safety, BLM & Antifa” w/Matt Thornton
Police officers spend more time in areas where crime is likely to occur. This common-sense, data-driven approach is turned on its head when officials apply woke ideology to community policing. In Episode 5 of “Wokeness, Public Safety, BLM & Antifa,” Matt Thornton explains how former Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty misused data to dismantle Portland’s Gun Violence Response Team. This failure contains valuable lessons that can benefit public safety.
Matt Thornton has taught functional martial arts for more than 30 years. He holds a 5th-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and is the founder of Straight Blast Gym International, training champion MMA fighters and world-class law enforcement instructors. His latest book is The Gift of Violence: Practical Knowledge for Surviving and Thriving in a Dangerous World.
Woke ideology intersects with what I do when the topic of violence is presented. It becomes an issue in terms of misinformation: misinformation about who commits violence, about why those people commit violence, about how violence is committed, about solutions to violence. Then that misinformation unfortunately becomes public policy and the net result is more violence and increased death, increased homicides.
It's a pretty serious topic. It's a discussion that requires data and requires understanding how violent conflicts occur, how they're actually solved, who's involved. Having the right information on that particular topic is vital, especially if we're going to base public policy on it. Woke ideology often comes in backwards with misinformation. The net result we can see around the country, in my own city in Portland, where homicides have tripled, shootings have tripled. There's going to be a lot more dead bodies because of this misinformation. So it's very important to try and get people to actually go back and look at the evidence and to understand how these things actually work as opposed to how they're being told they work.
Let me give you a concrete example. We have a councilwoman here in Portland named Jo Ann Hardesty. Jo Ann Hardesty was a person behind de-funding the Portland Police Department and getting rid of what we call the GVRT, which is the Gun Violence Response Team. In the late eighties through early nineties, throughout the United States we had a spike in violent crime, mostly related to gang and drug-related murders, all across the United States and in Portland. They created the Gun Violence Response Team and basically solved the problem. As they solved the problem, you saw a major drop in those kinds of homicides. She came in and was vital in getting rid of the GVRT and in de-funding the Portland Police Department.
If you ask her why she did that, she'll send you a canned response. In it, she explains that the gun violence response team was spending 65% of its time in the black community, which is really only about 18% of the population of Portland, therefore, racist. That's why she had to get rid of it.
Since she's gotten rid of it, gang shootings have skyrocketed. There are three to four times as many shootings as there were before. Three to four times as many dead bodies as there were before. And guess who those victims are? So not only was the gang violence response team not racist, they actually knew exactly how much time they needed to spend within that community to solve that problem.
My question for someone like Joanne Hardesty is, when she talks to the mother of a dead little boy here in Portland who was shot, is she going to explain to him that that little boy only deserves 18% of the police department's time because he's black and not 65%, which is really what's going on here? You can see when you break it down by the data and you look at the actual evidence, her solution was backwards. The entire thing started because of a false premise: because the police is department spending this much time in the black community, the police department is racist. No. The police department was spending that much time in the black community because that's where the gangs were. And now that they're gone, the victims are mostly in that community as well. So the people who suffer the most are the ones that the woke, in this particular case Joanne Hardesty, pretend to care about.
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