Last year it was announced that teen males of African descent in America are 21 times more likely to be shot by the police than their White American counterparts, with Native American males being the only subgroup of the population that's more likely to be shot and killed by police than Black males. Since that information was released there have been more than been numerous nationally covered instances in which Black males have been gunned down, choked out or otherwise exercised exterminated by law enforcement.
The ongoing dialectic that has exploded onto the nation’s conscience since the deaths of Eric Garner and Mike Brown, Jr. has revealed several startling facts that the majority populous may have doubted prior to these incidents. In addition to Blacks being purposefully targeted by law enforcement as a revenue stream for a municipality, as was revealed by the Department of Justice of report on the Ferguson Police Department; a report at Alternet.org revealed that police are more likely to deploy alternatives to deadly force when the alleged suspect is White, and a Department of Justice report compiled on the Philadelphia Police Department at the behest of Philadelphia Police Chief Charles Ramsey reveals around half of the city’s 59 officer-involved shooting deaths of unarmed assailants were the result of officers responding to an ambiguous action with deadly force. So, over a six year span, nearly 30 people have been killed by Philly PD for absolutely nothing. 81 percent of those shootings involved African American males in their 20s.
The relationship between law enforcement officials and the African American community has been, at best, tenuous since the advent of the professional police force in America. Despite the unfortunate and tragic history of law enforcement as it pertains to people of African descent in America, the historical precedent of having persons of African descent as President of the United States(Barack Obama) and Attorney General (Eric Holder) of the United States may lead many to believe that, at the very least, the federal government was leaning toward the side of righteousness in meeting out measures to prevent these things. But that isn’t necessarily true either. For many people of African descent in America, this new information isn’t exactly revelatory. It’s simply confirmation of what has already been discerned as fact by Black folks. .
Between 2007 and 2012, the years from which the data was gleaned, hundreds of police involved shootings have gone unreported. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reports that the actually number of police killings is 45 percent higher than the FBI’s tally. Additionally, the information was gleaned from only 753 policing entities yet the vast majority of the approximately 18,000 law enforcement agencies across the country didn’t report any killings. That means the actually numbers could balloon at a ghastly rate.
“Does the FBI know every agency in the U.S. that could report but has chosen not to? The answer is no,” Alexia Cooper, a statistician with the Bureau of Justice Statistics who studies the FBI’s data, told WSJ. “What we know is that some places have chosen not to report these, for whatever reason.”
Also, of the 105 large agencies contacted by the Journal for its report, 35 departments didn’t volunteer any information on justifiable police homicides at all.Even more egregiously 1998 and 2008, the Washington, D.C. Police Department did not report any officer-involved killings either. Shameful!
Failing to report the deaths of human beings in any situation is unacceptable. The fact that these police departments have a charter to serve the public interest, yet have been extremely derelict in making transparent their role in the deaths of untold hundreds, maybe thousands, of people is unacceptable and is emblematic of a bigger problem. One in which police departments in many municipalities act as judge, jury and executioner with no recourse. According to them, these individuals are little more than a statistical write-off that only their families will miss. That is wrong. The system needs to be fixed and those who are shooting and kill innocent citizens in any scenario should be reprimanded and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And if the law says these killings were justifiable then the law needs to be changed. A bad day for an officer shouldn’t give them the right to shoot and kill without recourse. To hell with a settlement. People want justice.