Agnostic.com

Are police disproportionally killing (unarmed) black men?

By Admin 4 weeks ago

Please note: the author affirms the goal of reducing the chance that anyone dies during a police encounter - especially black men. Also, that there are many reasons why black men encounter police at a higher rate than others including different rates of poverty and bias.

I'm an amature painter. I recently was struck by a photo taken by John Minchillo of four men protesting the death of George Floyd in front of a burning building and decided to paint it.

I had hours to look into the eyes of the shirtless man and his literal "brothers-in-arms" and could see their pain and anger.

While the killing was tragic and worthy of (peaceful) protest, I became angry for a different reason.

These men, and many like them, have been driven to take part in increasingly violent protests because they fully and unquestionably believe that black men are disproportionally being killed by police due to police bias.

They see daily stories the media, educators and activist groups telling them this is true.

But is it true?

A part of being an agnostic is to not rely on "faith" alone to form a belief but to first examine evidence both in support and opposition.

The media and activists routinely show evidence in support that unarmed black men are being killed by police. Every few months when one occurs, we immediately are bombarded by videos and outrage. We rarely hear of white men being killed so naturally we assume that they rarely are.

Let's consider now the evidence in opposition:

According to the Washington Post database, the police fatally shot 9 unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019 or a ratio of 2.1 white people for every black person killed. Since there are about 4.8 white people for every black person in the US, this suggests that unarmed Blacks are about 4.8/2.1 = 2.3 times PER CAPITA more likely to be killed than Whites. However, since the number of unarmed people killed per year is very small (down by more than half since 2015), this ratio changes considerably year-by-year.

As there are about 30 times as many armed people killed by police per year than unarmed, ratios of racial differences is more stable and statistically useful.

Another article by the Washington Post shows that, armed or not, Blacks are killed also around 2.5 times PER CAPITA as Whites. Data: Black 32/Million, Hispanics 24/Million and Whites 13/Million. (Asians rarely get shot)

If we stop here, as the Washington Post does, we only know half of the story.

What they (purposely) don't say are the ratio of crime by race! (why?)

The US Office of Justice Program data shows that:

  1. Blacks are 4x more likely to commit murder (than whites)
  2. Blacks are 2.6x more likely to commit aggravated assault
  3. Blacks are 3.8x more likely to have a gun (yes, only shows arrest data... not general public)
  4. Other arrest rates are similar except for DUI (whites 14% higher per capita)

It is assumed that the number of potentially life-threatening encounters with police are roughly proportionate to the number of arrests. If so, it would be expected that Blacks have 2-4 times as many chances to be shot and killed by police. This is comparable to the 2.1 and 2.5 ratio we see above in the black/white ratio of deaths of unarmed and armed people.

This means that police are not disproportionately killing Blacks as the shooting rate per-capita disparity is more than accounted for by the number of chances that blacks get involved with the police (while doing violent things)

Why does the media and outrage only follow the shooting of unarmed black men and not white men? Can you name a single one of the 19 unarmed white men shot and killed last year? Why not?

I believe it is to maintain the false narrative that black men are especially in danger from (mostly white) police. It angers me that daily the media, I assume knowingly, repeats this for economic and political gain. Instead of pushing the false narrative, we should be focusing our energy on finding ways to reduce crime by all people and to reduce the chances the police end up killing the people they try to arrest.

Activism and championing the causes of those that are suffering is a noble and humanistic endeavour. We must also be careful to examine the facts that underlie our beliefs so not to be cause of more suffering.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of this website or its members.
Comments for this post have been closed - typically to allow the author to respond to them.

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18 comments

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2

"This means that police are not disproportionately killing Blacks as the shooting rate per-capita disparity is more than accounted for by the number of chances that blacks get involved with the police (while doing violent things)"

Nice try, but like most initial premises that are wrong so is yours...there is ZERO correlation between the people committing violent crimes and the unarmed black people killed by police. If there was, those black people would most likely be armed. But it is fun to try and twist the numbers to back up your premise isn't it? Basically what you're saying is that since black people commit more violent crimes it's ok to shoot them regardless of the circumstances. Seven times in the back is also probably the proportionate number of times to be shot based on some per capita figures you can come up with. But you got your magazine piece! Congrats!

lerlo Level 8 Sep 1, 2020

In no way do I believe that it's ok to shoot ANYONE regardless of the circumstances. By accusing me of this from reading my article suggests that I clearly didn't communicate well with you.

Here are some points where I have failed to communicate well:

  1. There is a difference between police disproportionately interacting with black people and disproportionately killing them when they do interact. My article was focusing on the chances of being killed during a single interaction, not on how black people have more interactions with police... which I believe are a combination of they being more likely involved in violent crimes and police bias that comes, in part, from this. By considering the increased number of interactions black people have with the police, the disparity in the number of police killings can have more context.

  2. I think unnecessary death of anyone by the police is a tragic situation.

  3. By solely promoting evidence that black men are being killed (and not white men), Left-leaning media is showing a skew view of reality... which leads to spikes of anger which could have been constructively mitigated. If the media would ALSO show some unarmed white men being killed by police, there would be more consensus for police reform and black people would see that this problem affects all people.

I do disagree with your statement that "there is ZERO correlation between the people committing violent crimes and the unarmed black people killed by police.". People involved in violent crimes are more likely to be involved in non-violent crime. Being involved in any crime increases the chances of being involved with the police and being involved with the police increases the chances of being killed by the police. George Floyd, Jacob Blake, and Michael Brown all are recently examples of being killed by police in connection with criminal activity.

100% agree with you that police need even more training, including bias training, to help reduce the use of deadly force.

@Admin If black cops were killing unarmed white men we'd have country wide lynchings. To suggest that the media is the cause or that white men get shot too is just an attempt to diminish the racism problem. Like the right saying more people die in car accidents or by the flu each year than by COVID-19 so therefore it's not a big deal. No way to justify or to diminish racism.

@lerlo As black officers are 13% of the total and white officers at 65% and say 20 unarmed white people are killed per year, the ballpark chance that all of those white people were killed by white officers is 0.65 times itself 20 times = 1 chance in 5517. In general, white people don't protest these things.

@Admin Thanks for trying to diminish that comment. The key word there was IF it whites were being killed by black officers at the same rate as blacks are killed by white officers there would be lynchings and no one would bat an eye, no waiting for them, to be charged.

@lerlo I don't think any of the BLM protestors care about the percentage of times that these unfortunate/tragic events occur as it happens about 1:1000000 encounters. It's more that each one is treated like the 1996 Challenger explosion. Why is it that the media doesn't show even one white unarmed person being shot by any police officer, regardless of race. My guess is white conservatives would be supportive of a black police officer shooting a white suspect who disregards orders and goes open a car door. They support the police and give them some benefit of doubt. Do you think that every time a white person is killed by police it was a justified use of force? There are many departments where white officers are the minority such as LA. BTW: some if this reply is devil's advocacy

@Admin wow you think it's ok to shoot someone for opening a car door...you are the devil. Great, police departments need to be reformed , period.
You like to do research find out how many b.s. calls to the police about a white man holding a gun in a car with an unknown color from across the street. Why doesn't the media cover those!!! 🙂
[news.yahoo.com]

@lerlo If you ask that question of me while disregarding the fact that that someone just sexually abused a woman who called police, resisted arrest, and then opened a car door to get his knife (presumably to use against the officer), would I be wrong to assume it was disingenuous?

5

I agree with your point about the media over-hyping certain deaths by individuals and the damage this causes to not only society and rational discourse, but property and life. Witness the latest, Blake in Kenosha, where new details are emerging that he was not there to break up a fight, the car he was getting into was not his own, the police where there to serve a felony sexual arrest warrant, that he might have been armed, and that he wasn't even supposed to be anywhere near his girlfriend. Yet despite all these new facts, all the media reports is "black man shot" and a city burns.

HOWEVER, you are likely pulling your "19 unarmed white men" from a Larry Elders tweet. As this politifact entry [1] shows, this is "mostly false". I'll leave the curious reader to delve into it more but the takeaway is that that fact depends on who we consider unarmed and which database we are pulling these statistics from. This line jumped out at me from the politifact article:

"As of June 3, Mapping Police Violence had counted 28 unarmed blacks and 51 unarmed whites who died at the hands of police in 2019. "

First consider that your analysis is about unarmed individuals and thus to compare it to the criminal behaiviour of blacks v. white is a false comparison. That blacks commit more crimes than whites is factual and undeniable. However, it bears no relation to the number of unarmed deaths. Regardless of criminality, no one, black or white, should die at the hands of police if they are unarmed.

And thus while there are ~1.8X more white deaths than black, they are also ~5.7X (76.3% vs. 13.4%)times more populous than blacks... hence not in proportion. For the unarmed killings to be in proportion, of the total 79 unarmed deaths, only about 11 should have been black and the other 68 should have been white. All together, this means that there are ~2.6X more unarmed black deaths than there should be if they were proportionate to the total, not just criminal, population.

I agree that there is much uproar over killings that should be killings... namely armed assailants. And while there is histrionic media-induced frenzy even over those killings, that is not what we POC are upset about. We are mostly upset about the killings that should not be killings... the times when there was no cause for police to shoot to kill and yet they do. And on this upset, the claim of disproportionate killings stands when we view killings that shouldn't be killings.

(PS: This analysis didn't even factor the race of the police officer being shot. That is an entirely different conversation and one that is also a cause of upset to us POC insofar as my "gut" tells me most, if not all, of those unarmed shooting were by white individuals which raises the question... and only the question... of the role of racism in the disproportionality of these shootings)


[1] [politifact.com]

Wait wait wait, what??

"Witness the latest, Blake in Kenosha, where new details are emerging that he was not there to break up a fight, the car he was getting into was not his own, the police where there to serve a felony sexual arrest warrant, that he might have been armed, and that he wasn't even supposed to be anywhere near his girlfriend."

I hadn't heard any of that! It wasn't his car? Weren't his kids in there? (Well I did hear something about the girlfriend, but not the other stuff.)

Thanks for your comment. The key message of my article was to highlight reporting bias that often results in resentment and violence. This is done by focusing on POC killings and highlight the per-capita death rate (which is about 2.5x) vs the per-police-interaction death rate (which is much lower due to being more interactions). The increase of police interactions for blacks is a combination of an increased frequency of violent crime and an increased level of policing in black neighborhoods - the latter is partially correlated with the former.

Your comment suggested that I didn't succeed in conveying that message.

Secondly, I made a point that the yearly unarmed counts fluctuate widely as they are about 1/30 as frequent as armed counts. There are also some discrepancy as to what constitutes being unarmed. This is why using armed count is more statistically useful.

I agree whole heartedly that police departments must do more to avoid any killing. We must also be aware that human errors occur just like they do in sports. How many times have you watched a replay of a sports error that results in your team losing? It's natural to be outraged and yell at the player, "why didn't you simply not make that error!"

Why won't the Left media show similar unarmed white people being killed? This way, POCs can see that it's not just a POC thing AND more conservatives can get on board on police reform.

@Admin
>The key message of my article was to highlight reporting bias that often results in resentment and violence. [...] Your comment suggested that I didn't succeed in conveying that message.

It's a message that didn't need to be conveyed as I agree with it completely. In fact, a big point that comes out of these conversations, whether people notice them or not, is that depending on which analysis one does, one can prove simultaneously that blacks are and aren't disproportionately being killed. The left media will latch onto the sensationalist view always; the right media will latch onto the dismissive view always.

Take your headline as an example: phrased as a perfectly innocent and well-intentioned question. But you don't outline how you are thinking disproportionate, on what metric. As such, the question is so open-ended as to be able to answer it anyway we want. Using an example closer to this site's mission, it's like when a person asks "Is god real?". Real... how? Real as in there is literature about them... real as in they exist in an ontological sense... real in an epistemological sense? Real... how? By asking such an open-ended question, we can answer pretty much any way we want and always be right... while always claiming that the other side is always wrong. Disproportionate by armed conflicts? No. Disproportionate by total population? Yes. Disproportionate by police interaction? No. disproportionate by unarmed conflicts? Yes. And so the merry go round turns and turns and we get nowhere....

Why won't the Left media show similar unarmed white people being killed?

I think we both know the answer to that. It's the same answer to the question "why doesn't the right focus more on unarmed black people being killed".... because it doesn't appeal to their viewer base! The media isn't independent anymore if it ever was. It's wholly slaved to the whims of the public it advertises to, the side that gets it the most hits, clicks, likes, and cash! This is why I can't stand CNN or MSNBC... BB or FOX. They aren't objective, they play to the crowd. I mean conservatives don't watch CNN or MSNBC so what purpose is served by being objective to them? And liberals don't watch BB or FOX so same thing.

And of course, the most damning thing is that we are working in a virtual data vacuum when it comes to these issues. Statistics aren't very reliable or expansive. Body cams should be a federal mandate but they aren't... we should be able to see every police interaction because then both sides are more accountable. And so we play a guessing game with what little information we have .

And instead of waiting for more information before making a judgment... the way an agnostic would.... most people jump the gun, abhor the information vacuum and jump the gun going against or for POC, against or for disproportionate killings, etc. But as you and I have witnessed on this site and others, that is way too much to ask of people, even people that "pretend" they are rational and enlightened.

@altschmerz
OFC the police union will make it seem worse that it was.
But then again of course Blakes family will make it seem better than it was.
Truth would be easier to gain with body cams on every officer every time all the time... 😟

"In this statement, attorney Brendan Matthews, representing the police union, says that officers were dispatched to the location by a complaint that Blake was attempting to steal the caller's keys and vehicle.

Wisconsin DOJ has previously said that officers were dispatched due to a call from a woman saying her boyfriend was not supposed to be on the premises.

There is an open warrant for Blake's arrest on sexual charges, although it has not been made public against whom. Matthews said officers were aware of the warrant before they arrived at the location. They said Blake was not breaking up a fight between two females as neighbors and family have said.

Matthews contends the silver SUV seen in the video is not Blake's car and that Blake was actually holding the knife in the video where he rounds the front of the car. He said Blake put one of the officers in a headlock at one point during an altercation."

[abcnews.go.com]

@TheMiddleWay sounds like a he said/she said sort of thing. But if Blake was really a threat, Sheskey could have tasered him and disarmed him. The man is clearly psycho and has no business being a cop—unless his training conditioned him to behave that way, and if that's the case, it's even more troubling.

@altschmerz
The claim is he was tasered twice and it didn't work, hence the shots. And disarming an armed person is good for the movies, but not in real life. I mean if the police union is to be believed (IF), then he reaches inside a car for a knife where there are two kids in the back and they've been called for a domestic dispute. Regardless of actual intent, I can see how a cop might think he is going to hurt the kids and didn't want to take that chance.

12

I have taken a considerable amount of time over the past 24 hours reading multiple studies and reports before making this post. I went into this with an open mind. Let's just say that I have quite a bit of brain fatigue at this point.

This study found that blacks were stopped more frequently than whites, even after controlling for precinct variability and race-specific estimates of crime participation.

[tandfonline.com]

This study found that there is no relationship between county-level racial bias in police shootings and crime rates (even race-specific crime rates), meaning that the racial bias observed in police shootings in this data set is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates.

The results of the study also provided evidence of a significant bias in the killing of unarmed black Americans relative to unarmed white Americans, in that the probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police, on average.

[journals.plos.org]

Researchers looked at 1.2 million 911 calls in a U.S. city and plotted the use of force involving a gun. White officers were more likely to use a gun than were black officers and more likely to do so in predominately black neighborhoods.

White officers dispatched to black neighborhoods fired their guns five times as often as black officers dispatched for similar calls to the same neighborhoods.

The article also notes a 2019 paper reporting that bias in police administrative records resulted in many studies underestimating levels of racial bias in policing, or even masking discrimination entirely.

[nature.com]

While I wholeheartedly agree with you that we should focus on reducing crime (caused by inequality and poverty), I also think we shouldn't ignore the problems within some law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system.

[law.umich.edu]

While the media does have the propensity to sensationalize, what I found over the course of the last 24 hours was worse than what I've seen in the media.

We can always depend on your dedication and research into issues of importance. Thank You. However, one glaring thing that is suggested but often not pressed is why the hell 7 shots in the back. Too many of these shooting come with multiple gun shots that go way beyond the supposed need to simply incapacitate an individual not kill them outright. The number of shots usually fired are simply absurd and obscene.

Thanks for your comment and effort! The more I read the comments here the more I realize that I often failed to make my point clear, some people disregarded or overlooked it, and others inferred far more into the article than what I was saying. I find it a testament of the difficulty we all have in communicating.

Here are some points where I have failed to communicate well:

  1. There is a difference between police disproportionately interacting with black people and disproportionately killing them when they do interact. My article was focusing on the chances of being killed during a single interaction, not on how black people have more interactions with police... which I believe are a combination of they being more likely involved in violent crimes and police bias that comes, in part, from this.

  2. I think unnecessary death of anyone by the police is a tragic situation.

  3. By solely promoting evidence that black men are being killed (and not white men), Left-leaning media is showing a skew view of reality... which leads to spikes of anger which could have been constructively mitigated. If the media would ALSO show some unarmed white men being killed by police, there would be more consensus for police reform and black people would see that this problem affects all people.

Specifically towards your comments:

I agree with you that the stop-and-frisk NYC police policy was bias towards POC. There is definitely room for debate if the benefit of keeping more POC safe outweighed this. [en.wikipedia.org]. I couldn't find "3.49" in the PDF.

Here are some articles which come to similar conclusions of mine:

"For the entire country, 28.9 percent of arrestees were African-American. This number is not very different from the 31.8 percent of police-shooting victims who were African-Americans. If police discrimination were a big factor in the actual killings, we would have expected a larger gap between the arrest rate and the police-killing rate." => [nytimes.com]

"On the most extreme use of force – officer involved shootings – we find no racial differences in either the raw data or when contextual factors are taken into account." => [nber.org]

7

1992
In my car at night, nine months preggers, lying down on the front seat; hubby driving.

Police lights flash. Cop comes up, flashlight in Hubby’s face.

Hubby asks why he was pulled over. Cop says the license plate light was out.

I sit up and tell cop that since the car was mine, I was going to get out and he was going to show me.

Cop sees that I am white, tells us we can go.

2010
White BF is driving my car. My son is in the back seat, me in the passenger seat. Sports car with rear louvers.

Cop asks for his id. I ask why he was pulled over. Cop leans in to look at me. Sees my son in the back seat. Asks him for his id. My 17 year old son. My 17 year old, Black son.

2020
Son’s girlfriend driving her car. Son in passenger seat.

Police lights flash. Son’s GF pulls over. Cops go to both sides. Ask Son for id first.

#becauseIhaveablackson

He is an Air Force Veteran. Never been in trouble with the law.

2

The problem I find with both the narrative discussed and the article is the concept of race itself. Race is an artificial distinction - it "has no genetic basis" (http://www.pbs.org/race/001_WhatIsRace/001_00-home.htm). It is a social construct into which persons often self-classify (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_%28human_categorization%29?wprov=sfla1 - please note the frequent references and lack of issues), which "Today, scientists consider such biological essentialism obsolete and generally discourage racial explanations for collective differentiation in both physical and behavioral traits. " (same as above).

As a social construct it is defined in specific cases by group agreement and that groups common perceptions of the traits of a specific race(https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/social_construct). Thus it's defined by police when they say "white male on foot" or "black male holding a gun". It is assumed that the subject would identify in the same way, although they are not asked. It follows that where race is reported and crime is reported the reporters perceptions of race would skew his report. If the reporter belongs to a group (e.g. police) whose definition of a particular race (e.g. African American) includes a propensity for violent behavior then, when defining the individual's race, he will be simultaneously making unwarranted assumptions that would lead escalation and violence. This would lead to it being reported in official channels, further ensuring the perceptions by which the reporting group delineates its racial classification.

The entire narrative of "race" has historical roots in the justifications of one group to subjugate another (https://www.britannica.com/topic/race-human/The-history-of-the-idea-of-race). We all belong to the human race, and as long as our society upholds ideas of racial essentialism and behavioral differences we will be encouraging division. Division that is rooted in our subjective (mis)perceptions of fundamental behavioral differences. The problem exists here - some see a victim and others see an aggressor. But we must keep in mind that it's often those seeing an aggressor, at least historically seeing one, that are holding guns and making reports.

Do you think "Black Lives Matter" would go along with you on this?

Perhaps we can get the Daily Beast to just use "man/woman" or even "person"?

@Admin Thanks for the response. Probably not. And I do think there's a problem, however I think it's one created artificially by our own perceptions and insecurities. To me a perfect solution would be to wipe the very concept away, that race is real and somehow determinant of behavior. From my readings it didn't exist as a social classification until the 1800s (references above address this). But it's not an idea that going away - it's become so ingrained that it often serves as a proxy for cultural classifications (rap, early rock n roll referred to as "race music" ), despite artists and works always " crossing- over". The child whose parents consider themselves "black" will often grow up with the music and shows both familiar to his parents and which reflect their reality, which is effected by the perceptions others have of them. So it's often created by those effected by the same perceptions. Perceptions based upon an artificial classification. And the classification becomes synonymous with the art engendered by its perceptions. So you get "black music", "black TV shows", "black movies", etc and the artificial classification is now culturally entrenched (although the ultimate commonality of the human experience guarantees an appeal to everyone). The perceptions and belief in its reality have helped create something that reinforces itself, despite having no real, scientifically verifiable basis (science says the opposite). At least that's my idea of how it works.
I think the best thing to expect of anyone is to accept absolute racial equality and pay attention to the complaints of others. I think that's something we can agree on. I also think that, since negative perceptions not rooted in fact may be driving behavior, whether it's likely or not to agree upon fundamental issues, we can at least address the negative perceptions.
Of course these are just my opinions- I offer no sources.

0

Well said. brave of you to stand in the face of hysterical taboo. this is NOT "the land of the free or the home of the brave"

4

Your argument rests on the claim that blacks are more likely to commit crime. You do acknowledge that poverty is a factor is this. I don't disagree with you so far. In every country, the lower class commits more ordinary crime (as opposed to white collar theft and corruption).

  • However one glaring flaw in your argument is this. The same party that is accused of unnecessary racist killing (the police) is the one that is determining that a crime has been committed and needs to be policed. Do you for a moment doubt that blacks are aggressively over-policed? If so you are ignoring the testimony of whites and blacks who have attested to this. You are ignoring the repeatedly racist comments made by police and their membership in racist organizations. Repeatedly picking on blacks for chickenshit nonsense leads to resistance which leads to blacks being shot - the desired outcome by some cops.

  • But even worse that that, you are ignoring the totally innocent blacks that are killed, like 12-year old Tamir Rice. Can you point to a white kid like that killed by the cops? Can you point to a white woman like Sandra Bland who was taken to prison simply because she answered the cop affirmatively that she didn't like being stopped? Taken to prison and ending up dead? Can you point to a white man like Stephon Clark shot in his grandma's yard for having a cellphone?

  • You are also ignoring the history of policing in the South. After the Civil War, harvest time somehow providentially produced a spate of criminality in blacks leading to them having to work for free in chain gangs for the former plantation master. This now exists in private prisons that need to be filled with inmates that work for a dollar a day. The post-Civil War, racially-targeted policing set the tone for the policing that we see today. (The songs Chain Gang and Midnight Special refer to this policing that ended up creating a new slavery.)

Johnathan Swift in Gulliver's Travels ridiculed your post's type of ivory tower theorizing that ignored the all facts on the ground. George Bernard Shah could have been referring to your study when he said, "There are lies, damned lies, and then there are statistics."

You wield the study you cite like Christians and Muslims waving their holy books. Engaging in supposed rational analysis without all the relevant evidence is just as rational as their expansive religious claims based on fragments of dimly remembered and distorted history.

the need to reform the mentally warped among the police is a valid but somewhat separate issue. the sociopaths among the cops need to be weeded out. but one thing all cops have in common is the desire to go home alive at the end of their shift. it is rational for them to "profile" and the only honest way to fix that is to reduce criminality among blacks. its the blacks who need to fucus their energy on weeding out the criminals among them.

My sole claim rests on the fact that Blacks, per capita, commit more crimes that involve violence (such as murder) at rates proportional to the rate per capita at which they are being shot by police. I have not commented or made any claim as to why the crime rates are different.

May I ask why you feel that the disproportionate rates that different groups commit crime SHOULD NOT be factored in to police shooting bias?

Regarding your three bullets

  1. The majority of police shootings happen as a result of a call to the police by the public as was the case for most of the highly publicized ones. I agree with you that for the relatively few cases where a shooting happens as the result of patrolling that proximity would result in more shootings (but proportionately more arrests).

  2. These are red herrings. The sole question I am discussing is "Are police disproportionally killing (unarmed) black men?"

  3. Again, not relevant to the question.

1

Yes it's true at least3 times more

5

Greetings Earthling ... On my planet, we don't have black and white citizens.. They are yellow and blue.. But we suffered similar issues as you.. You see, the yellows were 1000 strong while the blues only numbered 100. Every week, 20 yellows and 10 blues were killed or murdered for various reasons.. Our statisticians said everything was OK, there was no bias or discrimination involved.. We foolishly believed these numbers... Ten weeks later, the blue citizens were extinct while there were still 800 yellows.. Only yellows.. And magically, the daily killings stopped... For the yellows had no one else to hate... Three days later, the statisticians were arrested and sentenced to life in prison for falsifying the numbers, also called cooking the books..

Have a nice day Earthling.. 😞

I wonder why there are not any green kids there 😟

In the US, 85% of white are killed by whites and 93% of blacks are killed by blacks. In the US, blacks have less than a 1 in a million chance of being killed by police per year. About the same as dying in a plane crash. Avoiding police and not flying improves the odds of living.

"I wonder why there are not any green kids there 😟"

I like that.. It shows you understand. ☺

" In the US, blacks have less than a 1 in a million chance of being killed by police per year."

How does one avoid the police when the police target you?

5

You're a good artist! That's a beautiful painting.

Regarding Heather Mac Donald's article, she cites a study that has since been retracted: [pnas.org]

Here's an earlier study talking about how African-Americans are disproportionately murdered by police: [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Another study about race and police violence: [tandfonline.com]

One more thing: I prefer a link to open in a new tab, rather than leaving this page.

EDIT: I also think the letters of the title should be white, so they can be read better against the dark background.

Thank you for the comment, links to studies, and complement.

Which MacDonald article are you referencing to? It is good that papers with errors get corrected/retracted as it implies that we have a healthy academic system.

I read the NIH paper and note that it too didn't have data for the number of total police interactions that didn't result in a death so it didn't report on the death rate PER INTERACTION but only per capita. Currently, we don't have a nationwide database of every police interaction so we can more clearly find patterns and use those patterns to improve safety. Most studies have to look at data on a city by city basis.

Perhaps in a near future, police bodycams can be connected to an AI system to record statistics about the people police interact with - even those that don't result in arrest. Video recordings of police activity is a good thing. This paper is discussing why we may exclusively see those videos with black victims vs whites (or asians or Hispanics).

@Admin Mac Donald wrote the WSJ article.

I think the police can be trigger happy and kill people of all colors, but the people they usually target tend to have a lower socio-economic status. However I do believe they target Black people more. I think your suggestion (the AI system) is a good one, but the police will never go for it. Ditto for a nationwide database.

@altschmerz Thanks! My use of that article was just to find the number of unarmed white and black people by police. I've seen other reports that say 14 vs 9 but it's not a material difference (except, of course for those 5 people) as the number changes widely year by year.

5

“I believe it is to maintain the false narrative that black men are especially in danger from (mostly white) police.”
“We must also be careful to examine the facts that underlie our beliefs so not to be cause of more suffering.”

  • Admin

.

OK, Mr.Admin, let’s do some careful examining. You have used statistics to try to indicate that
“the number of chances that blacks get involved with the police (while doing violent things)” is greater than that of whites.
But you stop short of telling us what you believe the cause is. Let’s go ahead and finish your article. If it is truth you are after, let’s trace the chain of cause and effect all the way to ground.

If it is true that blacks come into contact with police more often than whites, what are the possible causes of that? What do you believe?

Do you believe blacks are genetically more predisposed to violence? What do you believe drives this elevated statistic of police encounters? And what are the statistics, facts, and scientifically derived data upon which you base your belief?

“If we stop here, as the Washington Post does, we only know half of the story. What they (purposely) don't say are the ratio of crime by race! (why?)”

Why indeed. Are you saying blacks commit more crime because of their race? Have you (purposely?) not said why you believe that is the case? Let’s not stop here. Let’s finish the rational investigation.

I’m here to learn. I don’t want to be led by a corrupt corporate media, or mass hysteria, into believing something that isn’t supported by facts. I’m open to hearing new information, no matter how un-PC it might be, as long as it’s supported by adequate evidence.

Please finish filling in the evidence. What verifiable facts support the idea that humans of African descent are inherently more inclined to lives of crime, as opposed to just responding as any human would to hundreds of years of discrimination, oppression, slavery, beatings, rape and murder?

skado Level 8 Aug 31, 2020

"If it is true that blacks come into contact with police more often than whites, what are the possible causes of that?"

Based on the previous comments and the multiple implications in your comment, I am aware that if I say anything other than it's solely caused by racism, both current and historical, I will be called a "racist".

One way to answer you constructively is to list out some things which might reduce the number of times black men come in contact with police:

  • reduce policing in black neighborhoods
  • train police to reduce their interactions with black people (especially if bias exist)
  • reduce causes of crime as it is a fact that, per capita, black people are involved in more crime (e.g., 4x more likely to commit murder)

You asked me THREE times in your comment if I believe that black people are involved in more criminal behavior per capita than other races BECAUSE of their race.

While I am not an expert on criminality, I believe that poverty rates, peers, graduation rates, role models/fathers, access to jobs, cultural influences, and the way one perceives their relationship with society at large all have impact on rates of criminality. There are many countries, such as Venezuela, where the crime rate of non-blacks are much higher than the crime rates of blacks in the US so this implies that there are many factors at play that have a bigger impact that race.

@Admin
Thanks for clarifying.

Though I can't guarantee others wouldn't, I'm really not into name-calling. And I'm definitely not trying to get you to say it's solely caused by racism, because I wouldn't claim that myself. Rarely is any social phenomenon ever so simple as being caused by only one thing.

I'm just trying to understand exactly what you are arguing for in your article. I realize you narrowed it to one point, but why is that one point so salient for you?

You categorically state early on that these men have been driven, by stories from the media, educators, and activists, to believe that police are disproportionally killing blacks.

This appears to assume that there could be nothing else driving them. Upon what evidence do you make this assumption? Do you assume that every activist is able to accurately articulate the reasons they feel what they feel, even when legitimate reasons do exist? Do you assume that the word "disproportionate" only applies to numbers and ratios, and has nothing to do with fairness?

You then go on to make the "All Lives Matter" argument, while assuming, without supporting evidence, that the media's motivation is for economic and political gain. Can you think of any other possibilities?

Can you steelman the activists' argument to their satisfaction? Do you know what it is? Do you know what's wrong with the All Lives Matter argument? Do you know what's energizing your anger?

In your response to my first comment, you sidestep the question I asked three times by mentioning other, very reasonable possible contributions to the problem and some reasonable possible solutions. I won't ask the fourth time, but I feel the need to note the absence of a denial. I wouldn't call you crazy for wanting to avoid the wrath of the mob - it can really be insane and destructive. But it won't come from me. If there is well-established scientific evidence supporting substantial racial differences, I would not blame the messenger. But without that, it just looks like unconscious emotional bias. We humans are like that.

I hope my questions will be received in the same spirit in which they are offered - just getting at the facts. My intentions are not to crucify anybody for their beliefs, no matter what they happen to be. I'm as likely to be mistaken as anyone. I'm just very curious to know if there is information or insights out there that I have overlooked.

We all like to believe that our political or religious or philosophical positions are based in reality instead of unconscious emotional reactions. That is what I love about dialogue - it has the potential to help us see the world through others' eyes, and perhaps thereby see it a tiny bit more accurately than we could alone. I am very grateful for this free platform for doing just that.

Several of my favorite members of this very lovely site have now abandoned it, believing it's creator to be secretly using it, and them, to further an extremist right-wing agenda (my words, not theirs - but that's the gist). I haven't seen sufficient evidence to support that suspicion, and it wouldn't make me want to leave if I did. I tend to hold everyone innocent, even if proven guilty. 🙂 It would only make me more curious why people might hold such positions to begin with.

But I have to say... this article, even after your clarifications... opens more questions than it closes.

6

You are completely ignoring the context of the killings.
In many cases the black person having been shot has been doing nothing more than driving a car, all be it one the policeman who killed them has judged to be too "nice" to be being driven by a black person and is therefore in a situation to be considered "suspicious".
I have been myself stopped like this, but only when traveling in a car, or when walking the street with my friend and colleague Courtney, who I have known since the age of 12 and who was born on the Island on St. Vincent.
Apparently a white man walking or driving with a black man needs to be checked upon, just in case he is under duress.
White people shot and killed are usually already in the act of, or have been caught immediately after committing a criminal act far in excess of driving while in possession of a larger than expected amount of melanin

We have even had a female MP and an Olympic athlete stopped for no valid reason, driving on the streets of London in recent weeks, and guess what ...they were black.

Do you know the context of any of the non-black people who have been killed? We have learned the context of the recent string of black victims and they seem to have been doing more than driving a car. Yes, I am aware of the rookie cop who shot a black man who had gun permit while he was in his car. This article was focusing solely on if there is a racial bias in police shootings.

What do you base your belief that "White people shot and killed are usually already in the act of, or have been caught immediately after committing a criminal act (compared to races)"? I'm happy to take a look at that data as well if you can help provide it.

1

Simple answer:

YES!!!

6

I literally fear more for my black law abiding cousins more than I do for any law breaking white friends I have.

They are more apt to be pulled over for 'driving while black' and a host of other nonsense. Simply due to skin color. Despite being utterly law abiding.

And how about how the system rigged itself so more blacks got put in Prisons for ridiculous crimes like having weed on them? Like that hasn't been a white conspiracy to put poor black folks in prison and to earn money off their backs. Both by having them in prison and by their labor!

This is one of the most racist things I've ever read here.

You numbers are skewed. Either side can pull figures to suit themselves we've seen it time and again.

Thanks for your comment. I've addressed some of the concerns other members had in the number in their comments below (before yours).

I completely agree that drug laws need to be reformed and resentencing for those impacted. This was a pretty good historical video on historical issues:

@Admin However what we believe is that the police interact disproportionately with Blacks. That we saw police throwing KKK signs at the rallies was horrifying. (That low "OK" sign is a Klan sign. (You can Google that and find references).

It makes us question - as white people - what our police force is up to in their off time and what their agenda is.

Is does not put us on their side.

I've actually worked with cops who were trained in the way we'd want police trained going forward. They were taught about racism - how different races may react in different ways due to cultural influences and upbringing - and they were taught about the Mental Health issues and the issues that having drugs on board can cause - so they could respond appropriately.
These cops did not strike me as brutish thugs. They were intelligent people who were trainable - I'm pretty sure a lot of cops hit the academy that way - and than the conditioning begins. (And it's not pretty in some States). We're fortunate here it seems mostly better...

I see little that makes me hope some of these Gestapoesque thugs we've been seeing on the news beating protestors and even the folks offering First Aid - could ever be taught such ways.
It does not mean I am without hope - just that in this time - at this juncture - hope seems very limited.

It may indeed come to Civil war to change things to be fairer to all.
It's been a very unjust system for far too long. The serfs are angry - and rightfully so.
And Black People? They've had it badly since our forefathers dragged them from their homes. (Well not mine exactly they were still in France). But still I take on the white guilt of the whole thing. Who doesn't?

3

So you aren't going to include facts like black people make up 13.6% of the population of America, while white people make up 67.4%? Because that fucking matters quite a goddamn lot. So, you want statistics? Cool. Here's some.

  1. even if cops kill twice as many white people as they do black people, since white people make up 5X the population, that means that black people are being killed at 3X the rate of white people per capita. A 2018 study in the American Journal of Public Health found the mortality rate by police per 100,000 was 1.9 to 2.4 for black men, 0.8 to 1.2 for Hispanic men and 0.6 to 0.7 for white men.
  2. If your statistics were true, then why the fuck aren't white people marching in the streets against police brutality against them too?
  3. This article is racist as fuck and you make me fucking sick.
  4. Everybody is gonna see you for the fucked up racist bigot you are now. Good job
  5. You are shit at math and don't understand statistics
  6. You obviously didn't do a damn bit of actual research before writing this.

Thank you for the comment. I believe we are in agreement with the math.

67.4% / 13.6% = 4.95 (my census data had it at 4.8 as I mentioned AND USED in my article).

  1. The data I used has this pretty close at 2.5x (vs 3). (1.9 to 2.4) / (.6 to .7) is about 2.7 to 4 (vs 2.5 in paper). We are in agreement.

  2. I believe the answer is two fold. First, the perceived black/white killing-per-incident inequality is part of a basket of other issues contained in the idea of "systematic racism". The death of Floyd was a powerful symbol of this and a catalyst for protests. When unarmed white people are killed by police, I believe that white people do not consider that a symbol and therefore more often side with the police.

  3. Since our data is in agreement, does that make the article less "racist"? Is it possible to have an article that has a race component and not be considered "racist"?

  4. My goal is to help people recalibrate their anger to evidence and be able to get people who disagree with them to hear them out. Both sides of the political spectrum are increasing unable to peacefully communicate with each other. We must be aware that conservatives know the data I present here and use it to discount the overall message of the Left. Our country has to find common ground or violence will escalate and civil war likely.

  5. The math is just division. People are killed at about the same proportion as they interact with police.

  6. How so, we agree with the data.

8

Jeez this is racist. Did you ever think that the black incarceration rate has anything to do with why there are more black people arrested for violent crime than whites? According to the Census Bureau, Blacks make up only 13.4% of the population, but according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, they make up 38.3% of the prison population. Whites, on the other hand, make up 76.3% of the population, but only 57.8% of the prison population. [census.gov] [bop.gov]
I could go on to quote the many studies the media are using to come to their very justified conclusions, but it's clear you're not interested. Many sociological studies demonstrate that because of how statistics are collected patch-work style in the U.S. it is difficult to make statistically valid conclusions about any race committing significantly more violent crime than any other, yet black people are disproportionately policed & imprisoned. Also, studies show that blacks are disproportionately the VICTIM of violent crimes. But, in 2013, the FBI has black criminals carrying out 38 per cent of murders, compared to 31.1 per cent for whites. The offender’s race was “unknown” in 29.1 per cent of cases. That is not a huge difference. [channel4.com] "The Media" actually bothers to conduct thorough research.

Nunya Level 6 Aug 31, 2020

I believe we are one the same page here. 38.3% convicted / 13.4% of the population = 4.1 ... which would mean the number of times a black person could be shot by police is higher than other races. We're also in agreement that we should make sure that convictions rates are not biased. I agree with you that especially for drug-related crimes, there appears evidence that there may be bias in convictions and sentencing. However, the most violent of crimes, murder, is still 4x more likely to be done by a black person (per capita). It would hard to believe that the conviction rate for murder would be 4x, right?

I also agree with you black people are much more likely to be the victim of murder (93% of murders of blacks are done by other blacks). Only 0.1% of black shooting deaths come from police.

I intentionally narrowed my article to the specific claim that police are shooting black men at a higher rate than similarly situated white men. It is important that we address every claim independent of each other so that we can isolate which ones to focus policy changes.

BTW, the very first sentence of the Harvard study you cited, says

"Although racial discrimination emerges some of the time at some stages of criminal justice processing-such as juvenile justice-there is little evidence that racial disparities result from systematic, overt bias."

@Admin First off, academic study from the 1970's: From the article: MANY STUDIES HAVE SHOWN THAT BLACKS ARE MORE VULNERABLE TO ARREST THAN WHITES; OTHERS HAVE SHOWN THAT EVEN AFTER CONVICTION BLACKS ARE THE OBJECTS OF DISCRIMINATION, AS THEY RECEIVE LONGER PRISON SENTENCES AND LESS OFTEN RECEIVE THE BENEFITS OF PROBATION AND PAROLE. IN THE 10 YEARS SINCE 1967, THE PRISON SYSTEM'S POPULATION HAS SHIFTED FROM A MAJORITY OF WHITES TO A MAJORITY OF BLACKS. THE AUTHOR ASSERTS THAT A NEW STRATEGY HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO ENSURE THAT WHEN A BLACK OFFENDER RETURNS TO THE COMMUNITY HE IS WORSE THAN WHEN HE WAS COMMITTED. All caps are the author's emphasis, not mine. [ncjrs.gov]

@Admin Here is another collection of multiple studies: [washingtonpost.com] I find it of particular interest to note: A 2019 study of police stops in Cincinnati found that black motorists were 30 percent more likely to be pulled over than white motorists. Black motorists also comprised 76 percent of arrests following a traffic stop despite making up 43 percent of the city’s population. It’s worth noting, again, that multiple studies have shown that searches of white motorists are slightly more likely to turn up contraband than searches of black motorists.

@Admin A 2018 report to the United Nations: [sentencingproject.org] From the report: The United States criminal justice system is the largest in the world. At yearend 2015, over 6.7 million individuals1) were under some form of correctional control in the United States, including 2.2 million incarcerated in federal, state, or local prisons and jails.2) The U.S. is a world leader in its rate of incarceration, dwarfing the rate of nearly every other nation.3)
Such broad statistics mask the racial disparity that pervades the U.S. criminal justice system, and for African Americans in particular. African Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested; once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted, and they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences. African-American adults are 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated than whites and Hispanics are 3.1 times as likely.4)

@Admin This is just a small sampling of what's available on the topic.

@Admin And if you read the reports, because apparently I have to point this out, the discrepancies are not due to blacks committing significantly more crime than whites.

@Admin Please read the reports. And it might also be worthwhile to google how crime stats are collected & reported in the U.S. if you're not familiar with the perfect shit storm that it is. This is why most scholars have resorted to collecting their own data in independent studies.

@Admin I had no idea what you were talking about when you referred to "the Harvard study." I just clicked on it - that was a study I had pulled off of google & was completely horrified by due to it's overt racism. I obviously attached it in error. It was written in the 1990's with data mostly from the 1980's. I'm not even going to start an argument about why data from this era was inherently biased. But I have removed it from the reply as it represents everything that is wrong about how white America has collected & manipulated statistics over the years to fit a convenient narrative. I am leaving this comment here to show why I removed it. Here is the link where you can access multiple studies over the years on official crime victim statistics: [bjs.gov]

11

Your statistics on crime rates are severely skewed as they reflect Convictions, and it is well known, and acknowledged, that blacks are more likely to be convicted of more serious charges (not necessarily crimes!) while whites are more often plea-bargained or let off with lighter sentences.
In addition, the protests are about black men being pulled off the streets (TARGETED) for "being black" and then killed because, in the case of Floyd, he was SUPPOSEDLY trying to pass a counterfeit $20. Which as far as I know would not draw a death sentence in any venue. Not about Convictions in any way, shape, or form.Theses types of deaths should never happen, anywhere, anytime!!!!
Your disingenuous arguments, and the entire article (replete with "ASSumptions" ), is not germane to the protests....but you knew that already, didn't you......

Thank You!!!

Thanks for your comment. I intentionally narrowed my article to the specific claim that police are shooting black men at a higher rate than similarly situated white men. It is important that we address every claim independent of each other so that we can isolate which ones to focus policy changes.

You make a good point that the data I found was on convictions and not the arrests that lead up to the conviction. Let's hypothetically say that the conviction rate for a black person is 20% higher. If the number of convictions is 3.5x (as the data shows), then the arrest rate would still be 0.8 * 3.5 = 2.8. This is still accounts for the police shooting ratio of 2.5.

If the data doesn't support "black men being pulled off the streets (TARGETED) for "being black" and then killed (at a higher rate than other races)", then why use that to incite protests? We can still support police reforms to further reduce deaths of both armed and unarmed people.

@Admin again, the data DOES support that black men are TARGETED for "being black" in ways that lead to their death/serious injury. Why do you keep repeating an obvious falsehood?

4

Blacks were enslaved in the now USA from "On August 28, 1565, St. Augustine, Florida was founded by the Spanish conquistador Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and he brought three enslaved Africans with him. " until "Thirteenth Amendment to the US constitution, 18 Dec 1865." From that time until federal laws in the mid 1960's, blacks were politically, economically and socially restrained by various state and local laws broadly known as "Jim Crow" laws. This has kept large numbers of blacks in the throes of poverty. People in poverty are going to commit crimes at a high rate due to many having the perception that the "game is rigged" against them and thus crime (for some people not all) is a way to try and beat the system. To those of us fortunate enough to have lived a life with more opportunities available to us, this is not a view we have first hand experience with. While people are protesting the killing of blacks by the police, they are also protesting the system which encourages police brutality and which continues to limit opportunities in society and dehumanizes all people of color. BTW after reading your article, I think you are a person who is desperately trying to justify your own racism. The protests are not just against police killing black men. The protests are against the entire system that created such an injustice. But you @Admin are an otherwise wealthy millionaire, and if the system is replaced, your fear is you will lose your wealth. So you write an article to disparage those who rail against the system. Protecting your wealth and self interest.

Thanks for your comment. I intentionally narrowed my article to the specific claim that police are shooting black men at a higher rate than similarly situated white men. It is important that we address every claim independent of each other so that we can isolate which ones to focus policy changes. For example, while black men are not shot at a higher rate per incident with the police, they do have about a 30% greater chance being physically restrained than whites.

I am aware that there is a trend to call anyone "racist" if they say anything that challenges any part of the narrative that black people have no agency. I have also heard that all white people are racist. These are scary trends as it closes down discussion and produces enforced orthodoxy.

It is also scary that a small untruth is used to say everything needs to be replace:
Unarmed killing < Armed killing < Police action < systemic racism < everything needs replacing

I agree that one of the biggest things we as a society need to do is to pull the pendulum that has led to income inequality (globalization, consolidation, tax system) back to help those who are struggling. In the 1930s, labor unions and FDR went to the business class and said "either we raise taxes a lot on fat cats or we're going to have a Soviet revolution". He raised taxes. I am personally in favor of a 40% increase in the tax rate (36=>51%) for millionaire types AND a much higher inheritance tax (with no loopholes). We have to address inequality.

@Admin Unfortunately, we will not get the kind of reform we had during the Depression of the 1930s for three reasons. Both major parties are now totally beholden to the rich and corporations, so neither one would be willing to reasonably make concessions like they did to FDR and the unions back then. Also, BTW, union membership these days is pitiful compared to back then. Secondly, Americans for the most part, at least the ones on the left and those in the middle of the spectrum on economics, are not willing to get out in the streets and fight for revolution, whether it be non-violent protest or violent revolution. At the same time, our current developments show us, however, that those on the right, like the armed Trump supporters and the right wing militias, are more than willing to get in the streets and fight a civil war against the left. Thirdly, it has long been obvious from the militarization of the police in America over the last couple decades, the crushing of OWS, and the recent behavior of the police taking sides against the BLM protesters and on the side of right wing militias and Trump supporters, that if the left or even those in the political middle attempt violent revolution against the status quo, the police and military are chomping at the bit to mow them down and that is exactly what they would successfully do. We are doomed in America if we attempt any violent revolution and probably just as doomed if we get a viable third party like the People's party to challenge the duopoly in DC. They would probably just declare martial law and set up a dictatorship if that became a serious threat. But I really hope I'm wrong....

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