In a nation where police officers who commit violent acts against citizens are bafflingly rewarded with paid leave, you would think that the discussion surrounding police reform would be a united one. Sadly, that’s most certainly not the case. With Chicago currently facing scrutiny from both the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the general public alike following a recent series of inexcusable acts of police brutality, activists and civil rights leaders continue to call for the resignation of current mayor Rahm Emanuel. With cries of a possible cover-up surrounding the death of Laquan McDonald once again placing the emphasis on the necessity of drastic policy reform not only in Chicago but all across the nation, the Guardian has released the final statistics on the total number of police killings in the United States in 2015.
As part of their ongoing The Counted project, the Guardian revealed that 2015 saw a final total of 1,134 deaths at the hands of police in 2015. Though black men between the ages of 15 and 34 only account for two percent of the nation’s population, they made up a startling 15 percent of police killings. For white men in the same age group, the rate was five times less. Black citizens were also killed by police at “twice the rate of white, Hispanic, and Native Americans.” 25 percent of black people killed, compared with 17 percent of white people, were unarmed at the time of their death.
“This epidemic is disproportionately affecting black people,” Brittany Packnett, a member of the White House task force on policing, tells the Guardian. “We are wasting so many promising young lives by continuing to allow this to happen.” Though small progress is starting to show signs of becoming reality, including recent moves by the DOJ and the FBI aimed at actually keeping an official record of police violence, the path to a fair and accountable policing infrastructure is still wrought with obstacles. Though the vast majority of 2015’s police killings were by gunshot (89 percent), Taser-related and “physical confrontations” also accounted for small percentages.
“One of the ways of avoiding the politics of this and not losing the moment is everybody just stepping back for a second and realizing that the African American community is not just making this up,” President Barack Obama said earlier this year, breaking down the important of the Black Lives Matter movement, “and it’s not just something being politicized. It’s real and theres a history behind it and we have to take it seriously.”
Read the Guardian’s full report here.