Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Brooklyn Police Murders Don't Erase Decades of Differential Justice

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW

Eleven cops were killed in 2013 at the hands of black minority alleged perpetrators. Sixteen cops were killed by white alleged perpetrators last year. Half of all cop murders that have take place in the last ten years happened in the Southern United States.  (See table below)

One problem with the FBI statistics is they don't distinguish between African-American vs. black Latino or other black skinned minorities. Even so, African-American's make up 13% of the population but make up 28% of all arrests nationally and 40% of all US prison inmates. In some communities a black person is more than 10 times as likely to be arrested than a white person in the same town.

There clearly is differential policing in this country, but not in every community. There clearly are areas where police departments exhibit racial bias, but not everywhere, in every case by every officer.

Since the 1970's there is a significant decline in police fatalities, yet, with less than half of all law enforcement agencies reporting, there are about 400 civilian deaths caused by police each year. These are deaths considered to be justifiable police homicides. That number could be well over 1,000 per year if national reporting was mandatory for law enforcement. (see this petition)

I am horrified at the brutal murders of officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in New York City. I am fully supportive of police and sympathize with their families. This is a sacrifice they should not have to bear.

The killer in this case appears to be mentally ill, having shot his ex-girlfriend before coming to NYC to kill some cops before killing himself. He wasn't one of the recent police protesters nor was he connected with any nefarious organizations that might considered "anti-law enforcement." (For the most part those organizations are far rightwing in their politics and Ismaaiyl Brinsley doesn't fit that profile) . The police are rightfully investigating this possibility as I write, but so far Brinsley seems to have acted alone.

The evidence so far suggests that this terrible killing was the result of mental illness and an anti-social personality disorder, not revenge. It should not be politicized in any way or used by the police or law enforcement officials as a reason to alter policing tactics towards those people who are lawfully protesting policing policies. blatantly unequal application of justice against minorities over the past 4 decades is a well documented fact. This incident should not be used by police departments across the country as a reason not to challenge them to change.


Related Stories on this Blog

Three People Die in Police Custody Every Day

Police Action Fatalities in America

New Data Exposes Racial Bias in Fatal Police Encounters Nationwide

Police Homicides, What We Know and Don't Know

Serve and Protect or Enforce and Collect, The Changing Character of Local Police

Police Killings Not Uncommon, Exact Numbers Are Unknown

Consequences of Militarized Police Departments in America

Stop-and-Frisk and Racial Profiling, What We Should Know


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