In four days US police killed as many people as Chinese police did in 2014, and more than five European countries’ police did in 2014. In the first 24 days of 2015, US police killed more people than England & Wales did in the last 24 years.
The worst part about this is how many of these victims were unarmed. As of June 1, 2015, 102 people killed by police were unarmed. We can add more to this number, including the killing of Zachary Hammond who was shot through a car window over a bag of marijuana.
As people start sharing news stories on facebook about unarmed whites being killed by police, I am reminded that our society has a both a racism problem and a policing problem, which overlap a great deal, leaving black bodies lying dead on streets and sidewalks from sea to shining sea, week after week. These are two distinct social problems working synergistically together to create an outcome worse than either problem alone. But we shouldn't focus solely on the overlap: there is still, by itself, a policing problem, which affects EVERYBODY.
It is impossible for me to walk away from reading this AlterNet essay without concluding that there is something fundamentally, philosophically flawed, at a very basic level, with how police in this country, all police, make decisions regarding the use deadly force. This has nothing to do with whether police are good or bad people, racist or not racist, dedicated to their jobs or not.
When we see similar police homicides like this across the nation, over and over, ultimately, one can no longer see this as being simply about individual police officers or departments. There must be something much deeper happening. Sadly, it is not obvious exactly what this is. But I refuse to accept that the only way we can have the policing we need is for it consistently and routinely to result in the death of citizens for "walking with a purpose" or waving a spoon or pill bottle around.
There are serious scholars studying police work. I'd bet real money that this is an issue they have been all over for some years now. Why aren't we seeing these ideas tried out in the real world? Why isn't this a massive political priority? Why do we continue to allow people to die simply because of flawed policing philosophy?
I'm angrily waiting for answers.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
Posted by Ron at 6:19 PM