Since Black Lives Matter protests gained national prominence following the 2014 police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., the movement has spread to hundreds of cities and towns across the U.S. Now a new study shows police homicides have significantly decreased in most cities where such protests occurred. Black Lives Matter (BLM) began when Oakland, Calif.–based activist Alicia Garza posted a message of protest on Facebook after George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer who followed and fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., was acquitted of murder in 2013. Patrisse Cullors, another Oakland community organizer, began sharing Garza’s message on social media, along with the hashtag #blacklivesmatter.
“Police Killings in the US: Inequalities by Race/Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Position" examines the databases of police killings contain important demographic information like race, gender, and age. But they do not contain socioeconomic information like education and income. This analysis shows that socioeconomic position plays a big role in police killings. The highest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 6.4 per million while the lowest-poverty areas have a police killing rate of 1.8 per million, a 3.5-fold difference. A similar class skew exists within each racial group as well. Whites in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 7.9 per million, compared to 2 per million for whites in the least-poor areas. Blacks in the poorest areas have a police killing rate of 12.3 per million, compared to 6.7 per million for blacks in the least-poor areas.
The nation’s highest court brushed aside a number of cases that would have allowed it to readdress law enforcement officers’ broad immunity from lawsuits over police brutality. Justices on the Supreme Court turned away more than a dozen lawsuits related to qualified immunity, the legal doctrine which lets police officers escape accountability for using tactics that haven’t been expressly banned in prior court decisions. Even when police officers clearly violate constitutional rights, they are often not held liable because the right that they violate wasn’t clearly established by the courts at the time. The decision came three weeks after the police killing of George Floyd sparked nationwide protests. The mass support of the Black Lives Matter movement has swiftly ushered in public opinion shifts on law enforcement issues, even though it’s unclear whether law enforcement will once again stave off broader changes to America’s policing system.
Since a lot of the narratives swirling around about Seattle right now are less-than-insightful, I’m sharing a few points to help contextualize the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in the bigger picture of the dizzying terrain that is Seattle history. Meanwhile, in the interest of amplifying the work being done by the collective Black voices on the ground, I would like to direct your attention to this document, which explains what is being asked for in the aftermath of what they’re calling the “George Floyd Rebellion.” Also, Seattle author Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want to Talk About Race is an important resource that just climbed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. Finally, while you’re buying Seattle books, check out Black Imagination: Black Voices on Black Futures, curated by local artist Natasha Marin.
Protests from London to Paris; from Berlin to Nairobi; from Toledo, Ohio, to Tokyo, Japan. Protests in solidarity with Black Lives Matter and against police aggression and racism. Protests stemming from the cruel brutality that led to the slow-motion killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minn. The solidarity from Sydney, Australia, stems in part from the long-standing discontent from the dark Aborigines, the Indigenous communities in Australia and New South Wales, who like Black folk in America, have suffered from generations of state repression. And how have the cops responded to this challenge? With tantrums. With attacks on protesters, male or female. A 75-year-old white man who was pushed to the ground as they stepped over his fallen and bleeding body.
The killing of George Floyd is just the tip of the iceberg of a system based on racism and class discrimination that allows 99% of deaths at the hands of the police to go unpunished, during the years 2013-2019, according to the website Mapping Police Violence. In 2019 alone, there were 1,042 people shot by the police. According to a Washington Post investigation, this represents a proportion, per million people, of 12 white persons, 23 Hispanic persons, and 32 African American people. That is to say, in the United States, you have a three times higher chance of dying by a police shooting if you are Black. Another terrifying statistic shows that although about 50% of all people murdered are white, about 80% of those given the death penalty have been condemned to die for having killed a white person.
The National Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression calls upon all its members, comrades, friends and allies to join a national day of action this Saturday, June 13ᵗʰ to call for direct democratic community control of the police, to continue the call for freedom for those caged in detention centers, jails, and prisons while the pandemic continues to spread, and finally to continue the call for justice for George Floyd and all other victims of police crimes from brutalization, illegal searches, torture, forced confessions, and murder. Community Control of the Police means more than attaching some new name on the same ineffective review boards filled with law enforcement officers and their sympathizers; it means direct, democratic control of police departments, policies, budgets, and officers with full subpoena power through a civilian council elected by the people of the community served by the police.