June 8, 2020 / 3:50 PM / a month ago

Fact check: Mike Tyson did not tweet about black-on-white crimes and riots

Users on social media are sharing a fabricated tweet claiming it was sent by boxer Mike Tyson about “killings” committed by black perpetrators on white victims.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

The fabricated tweet reads: “If white people rioted every time a black man killed them, we’d never have any peace.” Examples of the posts are visible here , here , here , here and here .

Mike Tyson’s representative confirmed to Reuters via email that this tweet is fabricated. Reuters found no report from a credible source mentioning the tweet. An archived version of Tyson’s Twitter account from May 29, 2020 visible archive.vn/VOqHF does not include it.

Most iterations of the claim feature a chart that allegedly shows “interracial violent crime from 2012 to 2015”. The data illustrated on the chart appears to be drawn from a document visible here (see Table 1), published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2017.

The report presents average yearly data (not 2012-2015 cumulative) on non-fatal personal crimes, which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault, as defined on pages 1 and 11.

The report finds that in “the majority of violent victimizations, white victims’ offenders were white and black victims’ offenders were black”.

The report presents average yearly data (not 2012-2015 cumulative) on non-fatal personal crimes, which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault, as defined on pages 1 and 11.

The report finds that in “the majority of violent victimizations, white victims’ offenders were white and black victims’ offenders were black”.

The data presented in the bar chart is partly inaccurate — in some iterations of the graph two numbers are incorrect (white-on-black should be 92,728, black-on-Hispanic should be 173,537). While the other numbers are true, the graph is presented in a misleading way. While it is true black-on-white crime was the highest if only looking at interracial percentages, this understates the importance of demographic realities (that as of the 2019 Census, whites make up 76.5% of U.S. population and blacks 13.4%). ( here )

The civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), argues that this higher rate can be explained by population size and the impact of segregation. “Essentially, black people are far more likely to come into contact with white people in the course of their daily life than the other way around” ( here ).

The graph also omits white-on-white violent crime, which is substantially higher than black-on-white. The BJS documents 2,082,546 white-on-white violent victimizations, for example. Out of the total violent crime on whites (3,679,410), 56.6% was white-on-white, 14.7% was black-on-white and 11% was Hispanic-on-white. The 540,873 black-on-white victimizations illustrated in the chart is representative of 14.7% of the total violent crimes committed on white victims (page 2 here ).

According to SPLC, the numbers on “interracial crime and violence committed by minorities” have been continuously used in narratives by “white-supremacist-myths”.

The SPLC notes in another article that white supremacists have constantly appealed to the “manipulation” of crime statistics to make the claim that “nonwhite minorities, particularly African-Americans, are far more crime-prone and the source of most violent crime against whites.” ( here )

VERDICT

False. Mike Tyson did not tweet about black-on-white “killings”, meme features misleading chart

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts   here .

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