rainandsonder

United States

"the audience is only safe when the story isn't about them."

they/them - probably listening to sufjan stevens

Message from Writer

an important piece by outoftheblue- https://bit.ly/3dBxv5r

black lives matter & pride is over but the fight for lgbt+ rights is year round.

bio quote is from the magnus archives

A Dive Into Police Brutality and Systematic Racism in the United States- Part One

September 2, 2020

FREE WRITING

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There is a lot of misinformation and misguided opinions surrounding the BLM movement, and, more specifically, police brutality lately, and in an effort to educate and spread solidarity for the movement, I would like to present some facts about the police force in America and police brutality. Keep in mind that, in this essay, I will not be taking a stance or sharing my opinions, but just giving factual information from multiple sources. This information comes from mainstream news sites, all of which are considered reputable, but in case anyone has any concerns, I also checked the bias and factual consistency of each using a website which I will link in the footnotes. I have read through every article that I will cite, and I will also put my sources in the footnotes. I highly recommend reading through the articles themselves as a lot of them are really enlightening. Without further ado, here are the facts- trigger warning for violence, racism, and domestic abuse. 

One of the claims that I see is that the police kill more white people than POC, so how could they be racist? However, studies have shown that POC and in particular Black people are ‚Äčdisproportionately targeted by police. According to Forbes magazine, "Since January 01, 2015, 4,728 people have died in police shootings and around half, 2,385, were white. 1,252 were black, 877 were Hispanic and 214 were from other racial groups. As a share of the population, however, things are very different. Black Americans account for less than 13% of the U.S. population but the rate at which they are shot and killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans" (1). In addition, a study by the Guardian found that, "Racial minorities made up about 37.4 percent of the general population in the US and 46.6 percent of armed and unarmed victims, but they made up 62.7 percent of unarmed people killed by police." (2) And how many people do the police kill in total? The Washington Post did an in-depth study on police brutality that revealed that the police shoot and kill around 1,000 Americans annually. Since 2015, when they began their study, there have been more than 5,000 fatal shootings by police officers (3).

You may be wondering why this information is coming from journalism websites, even reliable ones, and not the government. This is because, according to another Washington Post study, there is no reliable national data on police officer shootings. The government keeps no database or record of fatal shootings or even non-fatal shootings, so we really can't know for sure how many there are per year (4). 

So when a police officer does fatally shoot someone, what consequences do they face? When a police officer is charged with misconduct, they are half as likely as a civilian to be convicted or incarcerated. When the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project analyzed 3,238 criminal cases for police officers, they found that 33% were convicted, and 36% of those convicted ended up in prison (5). In 2010, they found "4,861 unique reports of police misconduct in the U.S. involving 6,613 officers. Almost 10 out of every 1,000 American officers were accused of some type of misconduct. For context, the 2010 violent crime rate was four crimes per 1,000 residents, and the larceny-theft rate was 20.1 per 1,000." And what happened to those cases? Well, the NPMRP also found that, from April 2009 to the end of 2010, there were over 8,300 accusations of misconduct, and only 3,238 were followed by legal action (6).

But what about violence against police? Long-term studies have shown a downward trend in killings of police officers. In fact, in 2015, it was estimated that 129 police officers died on their jobs, making it the second-lowest year since 1960 aside from 2013. I wanted to get more up-to-date statistics, and found that, in 2020 so far, there have been 177 police officer deaths in the line of duty- however, it is important to note that 97 of these were COVID-19-related, making 80 deaths that are unrelated to the coronavirus. (7,8)

In my research for this piece, I stumbled across an Atlantic article that contained so many statistics and information from so many sources about domestic violence among police officers that I couldn't possibly put all of the relevant information in this piece. I highly recommend just reading the article, as it really is eye-opening, but I will paraphrase some of the most important facts. At least 40% of police officer families experience domestic violence, in contrast to only 10% of families in the general population; domestic violence is shown to be two to four times more common in police families. Almost 30% of officers who were accused of domestic violence kept their jobs, compared to 1% of officers that failed drug tests and 7% of those who were accused of theft. In fact, in an LAPD investigation, "Of those accused of domestic violence, 29 percent were later promoted and 30 percent were repeat offenders." Studies have also shown that, in police officers, domestic abuse is greatly under-reported and under-investigated. Additionally, it's hard to know how deep this problem really goes, because, just as with the fatal shootings, law enforcement do not track these cases comprehensively. Seriously, check out the article in the footnotes, it has even more studies that are worth reading in it (9).

Many people find it difficult to imagine a society without police, or even a society where the police look and function differently, but in fact, the job of a police officer as we would recognize it in modern society is less than a century old. While we're on the subject of the history of the police force, did you know that, in the South, police forces originated from slave patrols? According to Time magazine, "In the South, however, the economics that drove the creation of police forces were centered not on the protection of shipping interests but on the preservation of the slavery system... During the Civil War, the military became the primary form of law enforcement in the South, but during Reconstruction, many local sheriffs functioned in a way analogous to the earlier slave patrols, enforcing segregation and the disenfranchisement of freed slaves." (10)

Additionally, there have been growing concerns about white supremacy groups infiltrating the military and police. Christian Picciolini, a former neo-Nazi who now does anti-racist work around the world, and in particular worked on a campaign called Life After Hate that received a $400,000 grant from the Obama Administration, said in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald that many neo-Nazis pursue careers in the police force (11). In fact, there was even an FBI report in 2006 that identified this as an area of concern (12). 

This concludes part one out of two parts. I am not going to share my opinion here. I am not going to tell you what to do with this information, or what opinion you should form. I simply ask that everyone that reads this is aware of these facts, and thinks about what they mean. Additionally, I ask that everyone be polite and humane in the comments, and, once again, be aware that these are not opinions that can be debated or disputed, but factual information. Yes, of course the opinions you draw from those facts are up for debate, but again, I am not presenting my opinions in this essay.

Keep an eye out for part two; while this piece was a dive into police brutality and corruption as a whole, part two will focus more specifically on systematic racism and the prison industry. I hope that this essay served to educate, and if any of these facts are incorrect, and you have solid, reliable evidence (I will be checking) that says so, then please let me know!

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39 Comments
  • Abrianna

    Ok, good. I do agree with you in that we need change. It is just that I am very upset by the way that police are so disrespected by what seems everyone, they have such a hard job. I think that the officers themselves need more training but it will never be perfect. In all trades there are some bad eggs so to speak. I hate seeing videos of how they are screamed at and things are thrown at the police, seriously? do those people not understand. Being hated will never make the police better, it will simply make them worse, since what decent guy would want a job like that now? When so many people won't even appreciate them and criminals that they try to arrest are justified, it's insane. I'm sure you aren't one of those super radical people who hate law and order, and I have enjoyed talking with you.
    btw, I like your art work. I've been trying to get into it myself some, and it is so relaxing.:) do you have any suggestions for drawing?


    3 months ago
  • Abrianna

    Hello, thanks for the comment. I understand what you said, because yes the world is a cruel place and it always has been. There is still beauty and there are still things to be praised, the thing is however we are losing, have lost, respect and honor for authority and are becoming less and less accepting of right wing conservatives, which is not right since if we are so accepting why judge them? From this essay that you wrote on "Police brutality" (well written I must say.) I disagree. For because one officer lost it and killed a man does not mean that the entire police force of the whole nation is murderous. That was a terribly sad incident but what we must remember is that, the man killed was not an innocent guy who the police just randomly grabbed for the sole purpose of killing. Must all these innocent people be beat, killed and their hard worked for businesses destroyed because of this? No.
    Also the way our President is treated is simply sickening. Outside of the RNC a guillotine of our President was set up, that is wrong, can you imagine if people had made one of our former President?
    So you may not like me after this but I am an American and I do not wish to see the destruction of my country by those here who, hate America.
    So what do you think of me? -Abri


    3 months ago