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Why can’t Democrats speak out against the Ferguson Effect?

This is the second consecutive debate in which the candidates have been asked to respond to the notion that heightened scrutiny of police has had a “chilling effect,” leading to a nationwide increase in crime. And it’s the second consecutive debate in which the candidates avoided the question. 

The Ferguson Effect sets itself a difficult burden of proof. First, you have to establish that crime is, in fact, rising across the country. (It isn’t.) Next, you have to show that calls for reform have significantly affected the behavior of police. Then, you have to demonstrate that the latter causes the former. 

Its adherents have failed to prove any of those things. In the absence of any evidence, their hypothesis boils down to a preemptive backlash against racial justice advocacy. It really shouldn’t be that hard for Democrats to denounce it as such.