If you’ve arrived at today’s post expecting to read about some grisly psychotic true crime murder, I’m sorry to disappoint you dear reader, but there are more pressing matters happening in the world right now that deserve a little #tct attention.
Hopefully you’ll stick around and learn a little bit about the data behind an uprising happening that will likely go down in the history books as the moment that changed the way policing is done in North America, particularly in the U.S.
And honestly, let’s be real, police killing black people over suspected forged money or loose cigarettes is pretty fucking psychotic.
As someone who has an interest in true crime, investigation, the psychology of murder and other heinous crimes, and who reads mostly thrillers and mysteries (which typically center around the police,) it’s been a learning experience for me the last few weeks to understand how I can be a better ally by not upholding the myth that police are always heroes.
For me, it comes down to how honest the fiction tries to be, because as a booknerd and story-lover, I believe that creative fiction is one of the most effective ways to teach people about experiences they have no first-hand knowledge of. Story writers have a responsibility, if they are going to write about cops, to do it honestly.
And in some cases, to do it with hope. I think Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a hopeful show about what the writers wish policing and cops would be like, while also taking time in their storylines to address the truth about racial profiling, bigotry and homophobia within that structure. But audiences need to be aware enough to recognize what is real life and what is fiction, and that they aren’t buying into a fantasy, but simply remaining hopeful about what could be in a world where cops view citizens as their friends and community, instead of enemies.
Of course, I’m still not done learning about this, but as I continue this blog dedicated to my interests, I will do my best to call out bullshit cop fiction when I see it. And bullshit non-fiction. Because let’s be real, I love shows like The First 48 and Live PD, but they can be problematic. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the Tulsa PD ended their contract with Live PD using the excuse that it “wasn’t in their best interest.” You can read between the lines on that one.
And honestly I’ve had it up to my fucking double chin with the amount of times cops on that show troll for literally ANYONE to pull over and then say: “I can smell marijuana coming from the car.” Bitch, you cannot. And even if you can, who the fuck cares?
I need to take some deep breaths here because don’t even get me started on marijuana laws in the U.S. That shit was created for the sole purpose of putting black men in prison. Full stop. And now you have state governments making it legal, rolling in millions of dollars of revenue, holding it up as such an economic success when they’ve been destroying lives for decades over marijuana.
And yet they can’t even pretend to to make amends as only a dismal amount of pardons have been issued for the men and women sitting in a cell for weed-related offenses.
This is not just an American issue either. Canada federally passed marijuana legalization in October 2018, but has so far only pardoned a couple hundred people who are in prison on weed-related convictions. RING THAT SHAME BELL.
As a weed smoker who freely talks about it, uses it as props in my Instagram feed, and whose co-workers view me as quirky and funny and weird for being a stoner, but not as anything negative, there is a ton of privilege I experience just in that alone.
Another privileged I’ve experienced is having been pulled over by the cops only three times in my life. And each time I was let off with a lower ticket or a warning because I was just a dumb girl with visible cleavage. I’m assuming that was the reason, though the other might have been because I worked a the local convenience store and gave the guy free coffee.
Either way, in none of those instances did I have any concern whatsoever about my physical well-being. I don’t know any white person who could honestly say they were scared of the police over-reacting, not practicing deescalation and ultimately murdering them.
But it is, without a doubt, one of the first lessons a black parent will teach their black child.
And look, it is true that in terms of volume, police kill more white people than minorities. But white people also account for 61% of the population in the U.S..
And looking at sheer total numbers is a shitty, dumbass way to look at data. That’s why you don’t watch Tucker “this is what a racist looks like” Carlson, or anyone else on Fox News for that matter.
Here’s the real data:
Black Americans make up 13% of the population. But between 2015 and 2019, Black people made up 26.4% of deaths caused by police under all circumstances.
In other words, Black people are being killed by police at a rate more than twice their population size.
One way to consider this data is by over-under representation. All things being equal, any racial group should be (and I mean “should be” in the most loose way) shown in the data as subject to lethal encounters with the police at a rate equal to the rate of their portion of the population.
Hispanics make up 18% of the U.S. population and account for 18.7% of death by police lethal force.
Asians make up 5% of the U.S. population, but only account for 2% of the death statistics.
White people make up 61% of the U.S. population, but only account for 50% of these statistics, giving them a negative percentage between population and deaths.
Black people are the only racial group that basically have their statistics doubled every year.
So, when it comes to over-under representation, data points over the 0% line are racial groups that are over-represented among victims of lethal police force. Data points under the 0% line are racial groups that are under-represented among victims of lethal police force.
Just look at that red line.
Even worse, when it comes to UNARMED victims of police force – something that is arguably the catalyst for Black Lives Matter – Black Americans remain a wildly over-represented group with an average of 15% of police related deaths happening to unarmed black people. For white people, it’s 11%.
Being that I’m Canadian, the last couple of weeks have been eyeopening to me in terms of police brutality in Canada. I was one of those ignorant people who thought, “well, it’s not like that here.” And technically, no other democratic developed country can hold a candle to the systemic racism that exists in the U.S. – from slavery, to segregation to Jim Crow to the prison industrial complex. The U.S. has created a combination of oppression unlike any other. But to think racism doesn’t exist everywhere else is naive.
I believe the cop career attracts “bad apples” the same way other careers do. It presents a protected setting to do the bad things you want to do. Like being a priest attracts child sexual predators, same for teachers. Like nursing attracts angels of death, and doctors attract a God-complex. Being a cops attracts bullies and racists who want to legally power-trip and murder.
“Some of those who work forces, are the same that burn crosses.”Rage Against the Machine, 1992.
There needs to be insanely thorough psych testing for police officers. I’m talking psychopath proof. That would be one way to lower the amount of those so-called “bad apples” that currently appear to be the whole fucking lot of them, you know, pushing down 75-year-old men and macing little girls.
That’s psychopath shit.
And, like I said, it’s not exclusive to the U.S. But for some bullshit reason, Canada has never created a national database for recording police brutality and police-caused deaths. Just this week, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his intention to address police body cams with Provincial leaders. My out-loud response to the TV was WHAT?! because I was genuinely shocked to learn police in Canada are not required to wear them. I’m embarrassed by my ignorance, but my eyes are open now.
To get any kind of data, the best we can do is turn to SIU (Special Investigation Unit), a police watchdog group which investigates every case of police-related injury or death, as well as compiling data from media accounts and other public records. Specifically, that data has been compiled by CBC, but only for the city of Toronto.
Between 2000 and 2017, 52 people were killed during encounters with the Toronto Police Services. Black people make up 36.5% of those killed by police, despite making up only 9% of the population of Toronto. White people again account for the majority of the population but are below the 0% data point on the scale. Black people, like in the U.S. are widely over-represented.
Not included on the graph are Canada’s Indigenous population who are also vastly over-represented when it comes to police violence AND the prison system.
According to a 2015 Statistics Canada report, only 3 per cent of adults in Canada are Indigenous, yet they represent between 20 and 24 per cent of adult inmates in Canada’s jails and prisons.
The bottom-line is this: black people are disproportionately affected by the use of lethal force by the police. And in the U.S., an astounding proportion of those killed are also unarmed.
After all of that, if you’re still one of those people who is screaming into the void MORE WHITE PEOPLE ARE KILLED THOUGH… I have to ask, if you’re so outraged by the number of white deaths by the police, why aren’t you more inclined to support a movement that is calling for police reform and defunding?
Defunding ≠ Eliminating police funding entirely, Meghan McCain. It means recognizing that police are just one aspect of public safety and city budgets, and divvying up of responsibilities, should reflect that.
Defunding the police looks like this:
- Funding the police appropriately
- Demilitarizing the police
- Redistributing the City budget
- Police focusing on crimes and criminals
- Funding community services so that police no longer act as mental health counselors, social workers, medical professionals or education specialists
- Investing in schools, hospitals, services, housing and infrastructure.
Just consider what that kind of change would look like.
While you’re here, check out these petitions if you haven’t already:
- Justice for Breonna Taylor
- Justice for George Floyd
- Pass the Georgia Hate Crime bill
- The Hands Up Act
- National Action Against Police Brutality
- Mandatory Racial Bias Test
- Police Deescalation Training
- Ban Rubber Bullets
- Defund the Police
- Classify White Supremacists as Terrorists
You can find many more, plus resources, here.
Thank you for reading!!! I apologize if any of my language or phrasing was not correct, please let me know and I will rectify that. I’m always ready to learn. Anyone looking to leave a shitty comment will not be approved, so don’t even bother.
And thank you to everyone I swiped those graphs and charts and data from, specifically the Washington Post and CBC News.
Until next time, Booknerds…