Tuesday, September 26, 2017

If you're black...

IF YOU'RE BLACK, you are about two and a half times more likely to be killed by a police officer. Sadly, that is the plain truth.

I don't believe this is a reason to condemn police officers or our law enforcement system. The vast majority of police are dedicated and conscientious. But *something* is very wrong here. We need to look at it and discuss it and solve it. Pretending it does not exist and attacking those who are vocal about it helps no one and may be a major part of the problem.

Of the known uses of police fatal force in 2016 (963 documented incidents), 233 of those killed were African Americans. That amounts to 24% of the number killed. African Americans comprise just 13% of the U.S. population. 


A total of 466 Non-Hispanic White Americans were killed in uses of police fatal force in that year. That amounts to 48% of the number killed. Non-Hispanic Whites comprise 61.3% of the population.
When you equalize the casualty figures according to population, you find that an African American is 2.35 times more likely to be killed by a police officer.


In case you think the statistics are skewed by some greater-than-average participation in violent activity by African Americans, consider that the numbers for *unarmed* African Americans are even worse. 


A recent study showed that they are being killed at 3.5 times the rate of unarmed Caucasian Americans. Another study found that there was no relationship between police fatal force incidents and the level of violent crime in an area.


In the 2016 African American fatal force total, less than one-third of the people killed were suspected of violent crime or were armed.


The year 2016 was by no means an exceptional year. 


In 2015, a total of 995 Americans were shot to death by police officers. A total of 259 of them were African Americans. That is 26% (greater than the percentage in 2016). The total for Non-Hispanic White Americans was 497, or just under 50%. 


Equalizing the figures, you find that an African American was 2.46 times more likely to be killed by a police officer in 2015.


Before 2015, reliable statistics are lacking. 


Fatal force statistics are merely the most attention-getting evidence of a problem. With all else being equal, African Americans also face higher rates of being stopped by police, of being arrested, of being convicted of serious offenses and of being sentenced to longer prison terms. Some of these things are beyond the control of police departments, showing that this is not purely a police issue.


You may say what you want about those who protest or march to increase awareness of this issue - "They're anti-police," "They're anti-American," whatever. But, regardless of who is protesting, how they're protesting and what you think about it, there is something very wrong here.

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