A Closer Look At Police Killings This Year Debunks A Big Myth About Community Violence
Julia Craven reports for the Huffington Post:
What does black-on-black crime have to do with police violence? Nothing, according to a new report from Campaign Zero, a policy platform that grew out of the Black Lives Matter movement and offers solutions to ending police violence in America.
The 2015 Year-End Police Violence report, released on Monday, compares the rates at which the 60 largest police departments in the U.S. kill civilians. The data, which is a part of the Mapping Police Violence project, also found that out of the these 60 departments, only one didn’t have any officer-involved fatal shootings in 2015.
Among this larger statistical breakdown of police violence, Campaign Zero also discovered that there is no direct correlation between police violence and violence that occurs within a given community.
“The police often say that the police are where the crime is as a way to suggest that the reason that they are more violent in certain communities is because they have to be there because the communities are more violent,” DeRay Mckesson, a member of Campaign Zero’s planning team and one of the most prominent voices in the Black Lives Matter movement, told The Huffington Post. “We wanted to see how the data matched to that suggestion, and what we saw is that it doesn’t.”
“It just reminds us that the police are choosing to be violent in communities,” he added.
A common retort to movements against police violence has been “Well, what about black-on-black crime?” — a phrase that originated in the 1980s and has been used to cite black people as the problem instead of poverty, poor educational opportunities, proximity and other factors that spike crime rates in all communities despite racial composition.
“For us it was pretty simple. We’ve been hearing these arguments going around without any data or any evidence from folks who are saying that police are killing so many people — particularly black people — because they say black people are in high-crime communities and potentially involved in criminal activity,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, another member of the planning team.
The group compared violent crime rates from the 2014 FBI Uniform Crime report to the number of people police killed in each city this year. To confirm the findings, Sinyangwe said Campaign Zero also ran three years worth of police killing data and arrived at the same conclusion.
“This myth that people have created that community violence is the cause of police violence is absolutely false,” said Brittany Packnett, another member of Campaign Zero’s planning team, who also sat on Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s (D) Ferguson Commission. “This is an issue of policy, of accountability and of culture inside of departments.”