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Recent demonstrations protesting the death of young black men by police have focused on the slogan: "Black Lives Matter." Although some protest leaders have reminded their followers that "All Lives Matter," that idea has been lost in the misguided emphasis on race. That racial emphasis raises two thorny questions: Why aren't the protesters condemning the unnecessary use of lethal force by police against other ethnic groups? Which Black Lives Matter?

California is perpetually the state in which more deaths at the hands of law enforcement officers take place annually. About one-fourth of the confirmed "justifiable" homicides by U. S. police occur each year in California. The yearly toll in this state runs slightly over 100. Nearly every such death is ruled justifiable because each is determined to be "within department policy."

Before any significant decrease in such killings takes place, those department policies must be drastically changed. Regrettably, the current black protests will not result in a noticeable drop in such deaths. By raising the racial issue the protesters have turned off much of America.

Blacks comprise only a fraction of those killed by police in California.

In "Homicide in California," an annual publication of the California Department of Justice, statistics for 2012 reveal 114 deaths inflicted by California law enforcement personnel. The ethnic breakdown: White, 45; Hispanic, 39; Black, 19; Other, 11. Those figures are typical in this state, not aberrations.

In fact, some of the most recent egregious uses of unnecessary lethal force by police or deputies in Southern California have involved whites, not blacks.

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The slaughter of young blacks by other civilians, often by fellow blacks, is a greater threat to the safety of black families in Southern California than the loss of life by police misconduct. Why are there no massive demonstrations against that?

One of those killed in 2012 was an unarmed 19-year-old white, shot dozens of times by Los Angeles police. A wrongful death lawsuit against the department was thrown out by a federal judge who ruled the police response was justified. There were only a few small demonstrations, consisting primarily of friends and relatives. demanding justice for the victim.

Kelly Thomas, who died in 2011 while being arrested by Fullerton police, was white. Only the untiring effort of his father forced the district attorney to bring charges against the officers involved. If a jury could not convict in that case, it is hard to imagine an incident that would result in punishment for officers. Juries, district attorneys and judges are prone to exonerate officers because they apparently followed "department policy."

Yes, Black Lives Matter, but some black ones seem to matter more than others.

Massive protests over abusive police use of force have rocked California in recent days. We don't know yet how many young black men have been killed by police in Southern California this year, but 2012 ended with only those 19 blacks killed by police in the entire state.

That same year there were 1,879 homicides in California and 571 of the victims were blacks. Where was the organized community outrage over any of those deaths? Were the civil rights of those victims of less importance than the rights of young black men who may have committed crimes? Yes, there were occasional efforts by mothers of the deceased to call a halt to the killing of their children, but nothing like the demonstrations that have followed the most recent examples of unrestrained use of force by police and deputies.

The slaughter of young blacks by other civilians, often by fellow blacks, is a greater threat to the safety of black families in Southern California than the loss of life by police misconduct. Why are there no massive demonstrations against that?

As one who has for the past decade written repeatedly about the misuse of lethal force by cops, I continue to condemn that tragic abuse of power. But it will not end until the demand for a halt to that practice is based on the view that All Lives Matter, and a realization that statistics prove that police are affirmative-action shooters.

ralph schaffer

Ralph E. Shaffer