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Are cops racist?

Are cops racist?

  • Rodney King, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. The names of black Americans who have died at the hands of police. Tragic deaths which have sparked protests, riots & murder charges. Deaths which have resurrected the widely held belief that there is systemic racism within police ranks. This belief has now manifested itself into a global phenomenon with Black Lives Matter's mantra of #defundthepolice used as a rally cry for the movement.

Police departments were surrendered in Minneapolis & six blocks within central Seattles’ Capitol Hill have been taken over & controlled by private citizens carrying assault rifles, police are no longer welcome. This is a new low point for law enforcement. We ask the very hard question: Are cops racist?

The facts of individual cases are quite intricate so we analysed the data available from the Washington Post from police killings in 2019 to get a clear picture of where things stand.

In 2019 there were fourteen police shootings which resulted in the deaths of unarmed African-Americans, nine men & one woman. Ten of these cases have been closed so far: Five of these tragic deaths occured after the victim had attacked the police officer, this has not been disputed & in one of the deaths a black police officer accidentally discharged his weapon while fighting with the victim. In the remaining four deaths, 50% of the cases resulted in a police officer being criminally charged & brought to justice.

What does it mean? Looking at the numbers objectively we can see that out of a population of 320 million people (40 million who are black), the United States has just two cases from 2019 where it was deemed to be an unlawful killing. Is it possible that more officers should have also been charged? Yes it is, justice is certainly not always served but I still could not help feeling surprised with the low number. Considering there was a total of 1,001 deaths by law enforcement, with 89 police officers also killed in the line of duty, this was not the narrative I had previously held, where police were gunning down black youth at a much higher rate.

These statistics do raise serious concerns about excessive force & the conversation surrounding police training is vital but thankfully they do not point to systemic racism when applied to police shootings. This is not what I was expecting & despite the recent tragedy it points toward a positive future because these cases are the exception, they are not the rule. We need a strong & just police, we need reform not anarchy.

Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, he will be brought to justice along with his cowardly colleagues. That is a good thing. The global attention brought toward policing, no matter how negative, is a good thing. The movement which has energised black youth is a good thing.

What we do with this attention, this energy & this great opportunity is down to us.

Next week: Is This The Greatest Time To Be Alive?



Text: Kevin Maher



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