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Remember, we only kill Black People

Hello again Dear Reader,
If you've been following my blogs, you probably know by now that I usually like to be nice and rational in my blogs (well I try to anyway), just flow along and rely on the evidence to gently lead you to what I hope is a logical conclusion. Without emotion yeah. Purely objective. Usually. However.
But sometimes I get cranky and just have to raise my hand and call out hatred and plain old bigotry for what it is...evil. And yes folks, that's exactly what I mean and exactly how I feel right about now. I'm confused, I'm amazed and I'm bloody angry.
For those of you who read my blogs (do you exist?), you know I'm a big fan of the USA, it's people, it's culture and it's total acceptance of us Aussies in their land. So, how do you think I feel when I watch a for real video of an American Police Officer saying to a white, female civilian at a traffic stop, 'Remember, we only kill black people'?
What the hell? Did you really say that?
So then I got to thinking. Was the cop just joking? You know, trying to calm the lady down by letting her know that there was no way she was going to end up as another statistic, another innocent civilian shot dead by police because hey, she's white and we 'only kill black people'. Or was he being fair dinkum, as in 'yep, us good ol Georgia coppers only shoot those damn black people, not any of you good, law abiding, God fearing White folk'?
Now, according to the Georgia Police Force and the officer's attorney, the above comments needed to be seen in the context of him trying to deescalate a situation with the civilian and calming her down. So ok, he was just joking. Well Sir, if that's the case, bravo. 'Well done' I say. You probably calmed her down right damned quick.
"Hey, I'm white, this good ol officer of the law ain't gonna kill me. Because I'm white! Yay for me!"
Then I wondered, what would he have said to calm her down if she had been black? 'Remember, we only kill black men'? Or would he have said anything? Pulled his gun?
Let's assume everyone that he was just joking. However, what, and I only suggest this, what if in jesting the officer had actually made an acute observation? What if, in just throwing away a casual one liner to this white skinned civilian, he had actually (inadvertantly) touched on a critical issue? Could that be possible? Could it be that there is some level of truth behind his statement?
So then I got to digging and as my gorgeous (blonde) wife will very quickly tell you, 'yes, Paul does like to research....and rant'. And the research was, umm, very disheartening. Very, how should I put this....disturbing and pretty soul crushing.
What the data shows very plainly is that there does exist a clear and present danger for law abiding black people in America when dealing with law enforcement officials. In the land of liberty and freedom it's pretty dangerous to be black. As in, be real careful, because you're far more likely to be pulled over, humiliated, handcuffed, mistreated and even shot dead by the police if you happen to have black skin then if you have white skin.
Now, here I have to make an admission. Not a whole lot of research here is based on official records. Nope, not very much at all, because if you try to find records for police mistreatment and fatal police shootings in the US Federal database, you're going to be disappointed as no real database of these records exists. Amazingly, even the former Director of the FBI, James Comey (you know him, he's become pretty famous lately), has described this lack of data as 'embarrassing and ridiculous'. I would probably describe it as 'why the hell would we keep records that incriminate us?'
So, I had to look further afield, have a gentle troll through any available non-subjective academic research. Thankfully, the academics came through when I needed them and gave me what I absolutely love....raw data. Not skewed polling or 'qualified opinions' but straight out data.
And the evidence was damming. Across a large body of research it is quite clear that in America the colour of your skin has an effect on your experience with the police-whether that contact 'ends with a traffic stop, the use of police force, or a fatal shooting'.
For now, I'd like to stop for a bit and just let the research speak for itself. Here it is folks in black and white (pardon the pun):
1. Over a 13 month period in Oakland, California, '2,890 African Americans were handcuffed but not arrested while only 193 whites were cuffed. When Oakland officers pulled over a vehicle but didn't arrest anyone, 72 white people were handcuffed while 1,446 African Americans were restrained'. And the research shows that these actions took place regardless of the area of the city and the population distribution.
2. Black people make up 13% of the US population, 31% of police killing victims and 39% of people killed while not attacking. Racial minorities (including African Americans) make up 37.4% of the US population, 46.6% of armed and unarmed victims and 62.7% of unarmed people killed by the police.
3. Black victims of fatal police shootings are more than twice as likely to be unarmed as white people.
4. In San Francisco in 2015, black people made up less than 15% of traffic stops, but over 42% of non-consent searches following stops.
5. In 2015, white people searched without consent were more than twice as likely to be carrying contraband than black people.
6. In Ferguson, Missouri, almost 90% of documented use of force were on African Americans, and every documented account of a police canine bite involved African Americans.
7. Between January 2004 and June 2012, the New York City police conducted 4.4 million stops. 88 percent of those stops resulted in no further action, and 83 percent of the stopped population were black or Hispanic, despite the fact that those minority groups, together, made up just over half of the city’s overall population.
8. Based on a study looking at 19,000 use-of-force incidents between 2010 and 2015, African-Americans are far more likely than whites and other groups to be the victims of use of force by the police, even when racial disparities in crime are taken into account.
9. Analysis of data shows that there is 'no relationship between observed county-level racial bias in police shootings and crime rates (even race specific crime rates), meaning that the racial bias observed in the data of police shootings is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates'.
10. Fewer than one in three black people killed by police in 2016 were suspected of a violent crime or armed.
11. And finally, black Americans are 3.49 times more likely to be shot dead by the police than their white bretheren.
(This data was collated and researched by a number of organisations, including University of California, Washington Post, San Francisco District Attorney, Department of Justice, Police Accountability Task Force, New York Times, Judge Shira A. Scheindlin of Federal District Court, Harvard University, Centre for Policing Equity, UCLA, Portland State University and Boston University. Thanks to all.)
Well, there it is folks. I don't know how you feel now, but having to research this data, come to grips with it and then write it down, I'm exhausted. Mentally and physically done. The Georgia cop might have thought he was joking, but in many ways he wasn't. He was actually telling us a terrible truth. Life is far less valuable to the US law enforcement community if you are black.
How the hell can such a wonderful country with such lovely people be aware of this crisis and not do anything? Are they aware? I have grown up with the sure knowledge that no many how many baddies were attacking us in this big scary world, the US of A would be there, like Batman or Superman, to stare down evil and let good triumph. I can't seem to reconcile my vision of America with this evidence of clear nation-wide institutional bias against a particular racial group. Surely this is the sort of stuff that Americans would never stand for. Apparently not.
So, I'm upset now, I'm saddened and upset. Where to now? What can a middle aged retired white guy in Australia do in the face of this atrocity? I'm not an NFL player and I can't kneel for the American national anthem. But, I know what I can do.
I can call it out. I can go public in this blog and let the world (or at least a tiny part of it) know that this sort of evil exists. They may not talk about it, or collect official data on it, but it exists. And it's wrong.
If anyone in that wonderful country agrees, then now is the time to stand up (or kneel) and be counted. Evil such as this can only be defeated if at first it is recognised, acknowledged and owned up to. And only then can the USA move forward as the wonderful land of freedom and liberty for all that it promised its citizens it could and would be. I'm done now.
Thanks for tuning in again Dear Reader
And please, be nice to each other

Comments

  1. My first time on this site and my first article. Powerful post and use of raw data. Thank you for a well-written, informative and unfortunately devastating reminder of how America has failed to create a world that matches dreams and aspirations of Constitution and Declaration.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for your response. It always pains me when I have to think about this stuff, but I find it helps to get it out rather than bottle it up. If only they could learn from their history.

      Oh, and Congratulations! Out of the almost 1000 people who have read my blogs to date, you are the first to reply. If you liked, would be grateful if you could share. Thanks again.

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