Current statistics also show that US police kill citizens at a rate over 70 times higher than other “developed”, “democratic” nations.
Ever since the government’s official numbers regarding fatal police shootings were shown to be inaccurate, alternative means of tracking police killings have been necessary in order to fully understand what can only be described as an epidemic of police violence. The most notable of these efforts is the Guardian’s “The Counted” project, which seeks to offer an interactive, comprehensive database of killings carried out by US police. The database allows users to see the breakdown of US police killings based on the victim’s race, gender, age, and whether they were armed as well as filters for geographical location. The statistics themselves offer a harrowing picture of police violence in the US, but it’s not the picture that many expected.
As of today, 801 people have been killed by US police in the first 9 months of 2016, averaging about 22 people every week. In comparison, 878 people had been killed by US police by this time last year, marking a slight decrease in police-related homicides since 2015. The states with the most killings so far have been California, Texas, and Florida, which together accounted for 237 of 2016 police homicides. However, New Mexico, Alaska, and the District of Columbia topped counts of police killings per capita. 126 of the victims this year have been unarmed and 35 of them were Black men.
Yet, in 2016, it is Native Americans who have been the most likely to die at the hands of police with African-Americans ranking only slightly less as potential police victims. Native American deaths, at the hands of US police, is often forgotten as most well-publicized protests and movements against racially targeted police killings focus chiefly on African-American deaths. However, though African-Americans are undeniably dying at an unjustifiably higher rate than most other ethnic groups, Native Americans make up three of the top five ethnic/age-groups most likely to be killed by law enforcement. Both Native Americans and Blacks have been twice as likely to be killed by police this year than Whites. This is actually down from last year, when Blacks were killed by police at 3 times the rate of Whites. However, the incidence of Native American police violence has shown no such decrease. Though Native Americans represent only 0.8% of the US population, they now account for nearly 2% of all fatal police shootings.
Though police violence and fatal shootings have become all but normalized within the US, there is a startling divide between police killings in the US and other “developed”, democratic nations. It turns out that US police kill more people in a few days than other countries have in years or even decades. For example, Australia recorded a total of 94 fatal police shootings in the 19 years between 1992 and 2011. To compare, 93 people were killed by US police just last month. England and Wales even had less in the last 24 years, with 55 fatal police shootings in more than two decades. US police have killed that same number of people in just the last three weeks.
Germany and Canada, which use more lethal force than either Australia or England, also trail far behind US statistics. German police fatally shot a grand total of 15 people between 2010 and 2011. That’s also how many unarmed women have been killed by US police this year. Canada’s police force, for its part, is estimated to kill 25 people a year. US police have killed claimed the lives of 25 people just in the last 12 days. Ultimately, police in the US are killing citizens at a rate more than 70 times higher than police in other “similar” nations. This proves that the US police violence is indeed a major outlier compared to other nations. This is what a crisis looks like.
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