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Patriotically Incorrect since 1999

Fox News blames Black Lives Matter for Texas cop's death

Over the weekend, a gunman shot and killed a sheriff's deputy in Harris County, Texas, in an apparent ambush. It's still not clear what the shooter's motive was, but it was the work of a man with multiple marks on his criminal record for which he served several short stints in jail.

Despite any solid leads and facts about the motives in the shooting of 10-year deputy veteran Darren Goforth, some conservative media outlets and local law enforcement officials have already settled on the real culprit: Black Lives Matter.

"We've heard black lives matter, all lives matter," Harris County Sheriff Ron Hickman said at a press conference following the shooting. "Well, cops' lives matter, too. So how about we drop the qualifier and just say lives matter?"

Fox News's Elisabeth Hasselbeck later wondered aloud on air why Black Lives Matter isn't considered a "hate group." Bill O'Reilly was more blunt, concluding the movement was indeed a "hate group."

The goals and message of Black Lives Matter have nothing to do with harming police officers in any way. The movement is explicitly concerned with reducing the racial disparities found in the criminal justice system. None of its leaders have advocated for killing cops.

It's entirely possible to simultaneously want to reduce police shootings and want to keep police officers safe. Black Lives Matter activists have proposed at least 10 policies that aim to hold law enforcement accountable without putting them in harm's way, ranging from ending aggressive low-level policing and instituting better police training to limiting standards for use of force and equipping cops with body cameras.

Fox News's Bill O'Reilly also made the connection on his Monday night show, calling Black Lives Matter "a hate group." (His two guests disagreed.)

By the sheriff's own admission, there's nothing establishing a motive or linking Black Lives Matter to the shooting. But by making the connection in his remarks, he planted the seeds that critics of Black Lives Matter and outlets like Fox News needed to cultivate and grow their big plant of bullshit.

But for all the speculation about Black Lives Matter driving violence against cops, the evidence suggests that cops are actually going through a relatively safe year.

The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police officer deaths, estimates that there have been 82 line-of-duty deaths among police this year — down 2 percent from the same time period in 2014. Gunfire deaths in particular are at 23, down 21 percent from the same time period last year.

This is part of a continuing trend as the nationwide homicide rate drops. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund reported that police fatalities in 2014 totaled 126, up from 102 in 2013 but still near historic lows. Annual police firearm deaths in particular are down to 53 in the 2010s, compared to 127 in the 1970s.

So since the Black Lives Matter movement rose to national prominence following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, a year ago, there's no data suggesting that the long-term decline in police officers' on-duty deaths has stopped. It's time to stop making the connection.

Read More: There's nothing linking Black Lives Matter to a Texas cop's death. Fox News did it anyway. by German Lopez