Black Lives Matter: problem or solution? A critic sounds off

Black Lives Matter protest at the MN State Fair, August 29, 2015. (Chris Juhn/MSR News)

Problem: BLM’s motives are ‘unattractive’

Black Lives Matter (BLM), among other things, has been categorized both locally and nationally by some as weakening policing, especially in high crime neighborhoods. The MSR in separate interviews spoke to both a BLM critic and a BLM member. Following is excerpts of the two conversations.

Center of the American Experiment Senior Policy Fellow Katherine Kersten regularly writes a Sunday column in the Star Tribune. She has been critical of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and questions their supposed “the cops are racist” narrative as having an adverse effect on local law enforcement.

Katherine Kersten (Photo courtesy of

In a column published last August. Kersten stated that this narrative has resulted in bad policies that have hurt rather than help Blacks. The MSR asked her in a phone interview why she is so critical of BLM.

The name itself is “puzzling,” she responded. “If their concern really is that Black lives matter, and [they] want to save lives, they would look at the primary danger to Black lives and try to address that — Black-on-Black homicide. Homicide is the great killer of Black males under the age of 45,” said Kersten. “And 90 percent of those murders are carried out by other African Americans.”

Although she has not, like some others, publicly called BLM “terrorists,” Kersten nonetheless has made clear her strong disagreement with the organization and others who participated in the Fourth Precinct occupation in the aftermath of the Jamar Clark shooting in November 2015.

She also supported Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman’s decision not to press charges against the Minneapolis officers involved in the Clark shooting, adding that there are other shootings on the North Side that BLM could protest against rather than what happened to Clark. “If I was Black Lives Matter, I would be concerned about [the other shootings], but I think they don’t. They have a different agenda.”

Asked if she has viewed the BLM website, Kersten said, “I researched on the origin of the group and their long agenda. It’s both their methods and their tactics” that mostly bother her, said Kersten. “They are shutting down the freeways, and it is not because of what is happening on the North Side, but for a handful of police shootings like Jamar Clark’s.”

Kersten interviewed the Manhattan Institute’s Heather MacDonald for the winter 2017 cover story of Thinking Minnesota, a Center of the American Experiment publication. MacDonald’s book, The War on Cops, also criticizes BLM, calling the group anti-cops. Kersten suggests that BLM’s message should include Blacks properly following all instructions from police when stopped, such as making sure that police see their hands when they’ve been stopped.

“I’ve been on a number of police rides, and it is a scary thing,” she stated. “If Black Lives Matter’s real agenda was to save Black lives, I would be shouting from the rooftops to these young men that are involved in these altercations to comply with the police instructions and swear out your complaints later.”

She said that police-related shootings involving Blacks is a lesser issue. “[It concerns] not just Black people but people of all races, but I don’t know that those police-involved shootings have increased recently. It has been highly politicized, so there’s more attention to it.”

BLM isn’t looking at the issue of violence in a “fair-minded way,” said Kersten. Northside residents are very worried about crime, she continued. “Those are the people whose concerns need to be addressed effectively by public policy.

“If you want to reduce shootings, you need to get guns off the street. The number of the policies that the [Minneapolis] City Council has adopted has a very negative effect on police ability to get guns off the street.”

Kersten said that after the Council’s anti-lurking ordinance was passed, “It has endangered the innocent law-abiding people on the North Side because that kind of tool is taken away. These policies may have good intentions, but their consequences are certainly harming the people of the North Side.”

Kersten sad of BLM, “It is so easy to dismiss people that you disagree with by maligning their motives, [but] they’ve got motives that are unattractive.” Kersten wants it clearly known that she believes that the majority of North Side folk are law-abiding citizens who see police-involved shootings as secondary to overall crime on the North Side.

As a result, she wants BLM “to live up to their name and focus on the interests of the law-abiding people on the North Side and not jump into the fray when someone like Jamar Clark behaved like he did and ended up the way that he did.”



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