Marc Ash / Reader Supported News – 2016-09-24 23:11:56
Cop Violence Worse Than Kaepernick Says
It’s Actually Much Worse Than Kaepernick Says It Is
Marc Ash / Reader Supported News
(September 23, 2016) — The onslaught of police violence in America is actually far worse than Colin Kaepernick and his growing group of player supporters may realize.
Kaepernick and, before him, NBA stars like Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James and Michael Jordan — in addition to, more recently, the entire WNBA Indiana Fever women’s basketball team and countless other WNBA players on several teams — have done a remarkable and historic job of forcing public debate on the issue of police violence.
Far from overstating the scope of the problem, these young men and women often struggle to put into perspective how big and pervasive the problem really is.
According to The Guardian UK’s ongoing count, US police have already killed 790 people this year alone, as of this writing. Last year the total number exceeded 1200. Yes, absolutely, African Americans are killed in disproportionate numbers. But the killing is by no means limited to blacks. Native Americans are in fact the hardest hit proportionally, according to the Guardian‘s analysis. Blacks are second, based on a per capita breakdown. In terms of total numbers, the largest category is whites: 387 so far this year.
However, the statistics do little to convey the historic magnitude of the killing. These numbers are totally unprecedented. Nothing like this is happening anywhere else in the world.
The video depicting police in Tulsa, Oklahoma, stalking and killing unarmed Terence Crutcher has been called shocking, disturbing, unacceptable, and many other things. It is also a stark illustration of how police training creates the conditions for often-unjustified use of lethal force.
Watching half a dozen police officers with guns drawn and aimed stalk an unarmed man with his hands raised across a parking lot, ultimately shooting and killing him, the rational mind screams, “Why?!” It’s the training, you see.
Right now the spotlight of public attention in the Crutcher killing is focused on Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby. But Tulsa police trainers and policy makers should be under scrutiny as well. Shelby, a white, former convenience store clerk and the other officers with her as they confronted Terence Crutcher were acting largely on their training.
The military-inspired, lethal-weapons-at-the-forefront, physically confrontational way of interacting with their subject was all scripted by senior training officials. The trainers are just as guilty as the shooters, in Tulsa as in most of the police-involved use of lethal force incidents across the country. Yes, the police officers see this as acceptable conduct. It’s what they are trained to do.
In effect, Terence Crutcher was killed for not following commands to the satisfaction of the police officers confronting him. That is a common thread in many of the shooting incidents cited in the Guardian study. In the minds of police officers, police trainers, departments, and government officials all the way up to and including the US Supreme Court, this has become an acceptable rationale for what amounts to extrajudicial summary execution. The problem is huge and systemic.
For their part, the Department of Justice under Attorney General Loretta Lynch continues to launch federal investigations but has yet to file charges in any US police killing. There is no indication at this point that the Justice Department will ever act on a police killing on President Obama’s watch. Regardless of the circumstances.
Don’t be convinced for a moment that the young athletes now “standing up by kneeling down” are making too much of this. It’s not as bad as they say it is, it’s much worse.
The next time you watch a major sporting event, remember to cheer for the players with renewed respect. They’ve earned it.
Marc Ash is the founder and former Executive Director of Truthout, and is now founder and Editor of Reader Supported News.
Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.
The Counted: people killed by police in the United States — interactive
The Guardian has been counting the people killed by US law enforcement agencies since 2015. Read their stories and contribute to our ongoing, crowdsourced project. Read more.
Police Will Be Required to Report
Officer-involved Deaths under New US System
Jon Swaine / The Guardian
LONDON (August 8, 2016) — Federal officials will actively work to confirm fatal cases rather than wait for voluntary reports in new methodology influenced by Guardian’s The Counted.
Police departments will be required to give the US justice department full details of deadly incidents involving their officers each quarter, under a new government system for counting killings by police that was influenced by the Guardian.
Announcing a new program for documenting all “arrest-related deaths”, federal officials said they would actively work to confirm fatal cases seen in media reports and other open sources rather than wait for departments to report them voluntarily.
The methodology of the new system, which aims to replace a discredited count by the FBI, mirrors that of The Counted, an ongoing Guardian effort to document every death caused by law enforcement officers in 2015 and 2016.
Writing in the Federal Register, Department of Justice officials said their new program should increase transparency around the use of force by police and improve accountability for the actions of individual officers.
“Accurate and comprehensive accounting of deaths that occur during the process of arrest is critical for law enforcement agencies to demonstrate responsiveness to the citizens and communities they serve,” their notice said.
The federal government has kept no comprehensive record of killings by police officers, even as a series of controversial deaths set off unrest in cities across the country over the past two years. An annual voluntary count by the FBI of fatal shootings by officers has recorded only about half the true number.
The new system is being overseen by the department’s bureau of justice statistics (BJS). It would, like the Guardian‘s, document deaths caused by physical force, Taser shocks and some vehicle crashes caused by law enforcement in addition to fatal shootings by officers. A Washington Post tally counts fatal shootings by police.
In their Federal Register article, officials cited their authority under the death in custody reporting act — a law that states local departments must report all deaths in custody to the justice department or lose 10% of their federal funding. The law has been largely ignored since being reauthorized in December 2014.
The BJS carried out a trial of its new system that monitored deaths between 1 June and 31 August last year. Officials working on the pilot program cited The Counted as an influence on the initiative and a source for its information.
Officials estimate that this year there will be about 2,100 arrest-related deaths across the US involving 1,066 different police departments. The BJS criteria includes a wide range of deaths including suicides and natural causes. Last year the Guardian counted 1,146 deaths caused by police in narrower terms.
According to the announcement, police departments will be asked later this year to report once for all arrest-related deaths during 2016, before moving to the quarterly reporting process next year.
Under the new government program, all 19,450 American law enforcement agencies will be sent a form by the BJS that requires information on all the department’s arrest-related deaths in the past quarter of the year.
Deaths that were already noticed in media reports will be listed by the BJS for confirmation or correction by the local departments. Space will be included for the local department to list additional deaths that were not previously noticed. Departments that have seen no arrest-related deaths that quarter will be asked to return “an affirmative zero” saying so.
A second form seeking extensive information about the circumstances of each death will be sent to the local department responsible. It will require local officials to detail similar data to that logged by The Counted, such as demographic information on every person killed, how the deadly encounter began and whether the person was armed.
Other forms will be sent to the 685 medical examiners’ and coroners’ offices asking them to also confirm details of deaths that have been noticed in public sources. They, too, will be asked to return forms with details of any other deaths that went unnoticed.
The BJS ran a previous arrest-related deaths count that was shuttered in April 2014, four months before the issue of killings by police became a national controversy following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri.
Officials acknowledged in a review of the previous program that its census-style method led to an under-documenting of deaths. They argue that their new “hybrid approach” — proactively seeking out fatal cases using open sources such as news reports, while also asking police to alert them to unnoticed cases — will lead to more comprehensive data.
There will also be a two-month consultation period inviting comments on how it might work, particularly from law enforcement agencies and medical examiners who would be affected.
The FBI said at the end of last year that it planned to overhaul its discredited system for counting shootings by officers to include other uses of force and non-deadly incidents. The FBI program, however, is expected to remain voluntary.
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