Thursday, August 21, 2014

Some Statistics On Police Brutality, Racial Profiling And Racism

I watched an interview with a Missouri politician last night - a black, female stateswoman whose name I cannot seem to track down right now. She said the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson wasn't "about the death of Michael Brown. It's about police brutality, racial profiling and racism."

Her reasoning for that "fact" was that Michael Brown was unarmed and was shot six times. Given those known details, "Anyone can reasonably come to that conclusion," she said. When pressed about the idea that since she wasn't there she couldn't know all the facts of the case and whether or not the shooting was justified she kept repeating the same thing - because Brown was unarmed and shot six times it was police brutality, racial profiling and racism.

She went on to say this type of incident is common in the United States. A video of a black media pundit speaking on MSNBC was played. That person said "there is a war against young black men in this country." She indicated that the war was being waged by police and/or white people in general. But just how true is that?

Let's look first at police brutality. While cell phone video cameras these days capture more and more incidents of police using (or appearing to use) excessive force, has the number of incidents really gone up? Or is it merely being publicized more often?

According to FBI statistics about 12 million people are arrested each year in the United States. Between 1000 and 1200 people are shot by police every year. Of those, between 400 and 600 die from their wounds. (I haven't found a statistic of why these people were shot so I can't say whether or not they were justified however, I think its safe to assume that most of them were since there are not 600 cases a year in the media that claim a cop murdered someone. And given the situation in Feguson, it's easy to see that people disagree about what is and isn't justified.)

Even at the highest rate of 1200 per year being shot, 99.9% of people arrested last year did not get shot or killed by police. That's a pretty significant number.

Are blacks targeted by police for arrest? Let's look at a few more statistics.

People of African American descent make up about 13% of the population in the US. But the number of crimes committed by them is far higher than 13% of all crime in the nation.

This chart comes from the FBI for the year 2011:

Offense charged
Total arrests


Murder and non-negligent manslaughter

Forcible rape


Aggravated assault

As you can see by the numbers, black crime rates are far higher than 13% of the national rate. And remember, these are FBI statistics, not mine. (The rest of the chart showing Asian, Native American, etc., was deleted because it was too wide for the page and irrelevant for this particular post.)

Because of cities like Chicago and Washington DC, (which have the most strict gun control laws in the country) the percentage of black homicides committed by other black people is 90%. Between 6,000 and 7,000 black people are murdered every year in this country. Ninety percent, or about 5800 of them are killed by other black people. 

I can hear people saying "Black on black crime is not relevant." But I beg to differ. When people are out there screaming about the "war on young black men" they like to overlook the fact that 90% of that war is being waged by other black men. That's not racist - just fact.

There is no indication that the Michael Brown shooting was due to racism or racial profiling. Unless, of course, you're one of those wackos who believes that Officer Wilson was driving around the streets of Ferguson, saw two young black men walking along and decided "Hey - I think I'll kill one of them because they're black."

Although I can't verify it yet, it is being reported that the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Wilson was the first shooting ever to occur within the Ferguson PD. Given that the department was formed in 1894 - if it's true I'd say that's a pretty good record of Ferguson police not shooting black people.

An officer with an exemplary record, Wilson first made contact to tell them not to walk in the middle of the street, then began to drive away. He returned when he (allegedly) heard the report about the strong-arm robbery of a nearby store and the suspects' description matched the two men he had just seen. Profiling? I think not. He had a description of the two and knew what they had (allegedly) stolen. 

So unless Wilson, as I said above, simply decided to kill a black man for no other reason than he was black, the whole profiling and racism aspect of the case is out the window. I won't get into the struggle, the officer's injuries or the eventual shooting because I've already talked about that in previous blogs and the investigation has not been completed. Suffice it to say that as more evidence comes to light and more witnesses speak out, I'm leaning heavily in favor of the officer. But then - I'm a Christian conservative who does not vote for or agree with President Obama and his policies. So I must be a racist.

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