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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

on ferguson: the culture of impunity for cops

According to the organization that runs the KilledbyPolice facebook page, At least 996 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2014. At least 1750 have been killed since May 1, 2013. Taking that 1,000 per year total, we have at least 13,000 Americans killed by the police since 2001. According to the US Military, 6,802 troops have been killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. This means that roughly twice as many Americans have died by cop in the last thirteen years as have died by the hands of the Taliban or the insurgents in Iraq. Of course, if you throw in the contractors, the number of American deaths is higher – but nobody has really kept tabs on the number of American contractors killed. Even if it is as high as 6,000, we are still talking about a situation in which more Americans are killed by cop than by America’s enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The KilledbyPolice organization operates by counting up stories about police-caused death that appear in the media. It depends, then, on not missing stories – so the number may be higher. But I do think it is of significance that your chance, as an American, of being killed by the cops is higher than your chance of being killed by the Taliban, much less the ISIS.
Of course, the stats go much higher on the killed by cop side if you are walking, driving, sleeping, at work, in a playground, or going down the stairs in an apartment and at the same time are black. If you are white, you are all right.
The disgraceful circus in Ferguson, where the Grand Jury heard a trial in which there was no prosecution, simply a prosecutor defending, as much as he could, a police officer who killed a black boy, is par for the course. So too is the white riot that broke out afterwards in comments sections on the Internet – like the Hutus, who were incited by Rwandan radio to kill Tutsis like “cockroaches”, white americans have listened for years to similarly racist appeals from a panoply of media sites, drilling the exterminationist philosophy into them. 

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