This Problem Isn’t Going Away: Heartless Police Shootings of Unarmed Black Americans Continue Into the Trump Era
The statistics on law enforcement bias against black people are startling.
Alternet, May 5, 2017
To be black in America means to live in a state of constant vulnerability. To be black in America means to be viscerally aware of this vulnerability especially as it relates to interactions with law enforcement. Walking with friends is dangerous. Playing with a BB gun in the park is a fatal mistake. Looking like a “bad dude” could spell the end of your life.
Even leaving a party is grounds for extrajudicial murder.
This vulnerability bears out statistically as much as it does anecdotally. A study from Drexel University researchers found that black people are 2.8 times more likely than whites to be killed during encounters with law enforcement. A Vox analysis of FBI data found that in 2012, black people composed 31 percent of the victims of police killings, despite comprising only 13 percent of the total United States population.
The police violence imposed upon black bodies has taken an especially pronounced toll on black teens: Between 2010 and 2012, black teens were found to have been 21 times more likely than their white counterparts were to be shot and killed by police, according to ProPublica’s analysis.
These trends show no sign of abating. So far in 2017, black people have constituted 25 percent of the police shooting victims, according to the Washington Post.
Out of the 339 people shot and killed by police this year, 85 of them are black—and it’s only May.
Even being unarmed doesn’t insulate black bodies from being on the receiving end of fatal force. A study from the University of California, Davis, found that the likelihood of unarmed black people being shot by the police is 3.49 times higher than that of unarmed whites. This is the case even though, as independent researchers noted, blacks are less likely to constitute an immediate threat at the time of a fatal police shooting than are whites.
The disparities are even starker for black men. Black men composed 40 percent of all the unarmed victims of fatal police shootings in 2015 and 34 percent of all such victims in 2016, statistics severely disproportionate to their mere 6 percent representation in the United States population.
As Justin Nix, one of the researchers, summarized with chilling simplicity, “The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black.” The other circumstances of the shooting were irrelevant.
It was against this backdrop of institutional and structural racism entrenched within the justice system that Donald Trump ascended to the presidency. Known for the racist rhetoric that drove thousands to his campaign rallies across the country, now-President Trump has shown no sign of changing his tune. In fact, if anything, Trump has doubled down on his hostility toward black (and brown) people: His Justice Department, led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a man with his own questionable history of racism, just declined to bring federal charges against the police officers who murdered Alton Sterling, a man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time in the wrong colored skin.
At the same time, however, the Trump administration has been unwavering in its support for police and has made a commitment, according to the White House website, “to empower[ing] our law enforcement officers.”
In the days between the inauguration of Donald Trump on January 21 and May 4, 73 black people have been shot and killed by the police. Five of them were unarmed, including, most recently, Jordan Edwards.
These are the stories of the other four.
1. February 5, 2017: Nana Adomako, 45, Fremont, California
Police were called to a Verizon Wireless store on the afternoon of February 5th to respond to reports of disruptions and threats on the part of a man later identified as Nana Adomako. Adomako left and shortly afterwards encountered a police officer as he was walking along the street.
The officer shot Adomako three times from close range. Another officer arrived to help. Rather than immediately calling an ambulance or administering preliminary first aid to Adomako, the two first worked together to handcuff the dying man. Adomako died at the scene.
The officer involved is on paid administrative leave while the Fremont Police Department and the Alameda County District Attorney’s office investigate the shooting. No charges have been leveled against him.
2. February 8, 2017: Chad Robertson, 25, Chicago, Illinois
Chad Robertson, a 25-year-old father of two, was traveling home to Minneapolis after attending the wedding of a friend in Memphis. He arrived in Chicago for a layover accompanied by two male friends. The three went inside Union Station for a reprieve from the cold where they were soon accosted by two police officers, who suspected them of smoking marijuana. Noticing that they had left their luggage behind at the station in the confusion of the interaction, one of the men returned to retrieve it. The men were confronted again by the two officers.
Robertson ran when an officer began checking his pockets. According to Robertson’s lawyer, the officer yelled, “If you don’t stop running, I’m going to shoot you.” And he did. Instead of attempting to pursue Robertson or subdue him with a Taser, the officer fired his gun once, hitting the unarmed Robertson in the left shoulder.
Days later, on February 11, Robertson was in critical condition at Stroger Hospital, paralyzed from his shoulders down to the rest of his body. Nina Robertson, Chad’s sister, said that one of the first things her brother, who had been slipping in and out of consciousness, asked her was, “Why did they shoot me? I didn’t do anything wrong.” After learning of his paralysis, Robertson mourned that the “police ruined my life.”
The police did more than ruin Robertson’s life: They took it. He died on February 15.
3. February 13, 2017: Raynard Burton, 19, Detroit, Michigan
After crashing his vehicle into a utility pole, Burton exited his vehicle and ran from the officer. A foot chase ensued, ending at a house nearby. He was shot once in the right side of his chest.
The officer who murdered Burton, who (tellingly) referred to himself on Instagram as “Fatal Force,” remained on the beat despite having a well-documented history of exercising excessive and fatal force. In 1995, the officer was censured for randomly shooting a pigeon with his department-issued weapon. In 1998, the officer fired multiple times at a man who after retrieving money from an ATM made the innocent mistake of attempting to enter the wrong car, that of the officer. The officer somehow evaded punishment for this incident (but not for firing at a bird). Reports of a 2015 incident have recently surfaced in which the officer allegedly fired approximately 15 bullets into the vehicle containing a man who insisted he was unarmed.
Burton is dead, while his murderer remains employed by the Detroit Police Department, albeit on restricted duty. An investigation into the murder has been launched.
4. March 19, 2017: Alteria Woods, 21, Gifford, Florida
Alteria Woods, a soon-to-be mom, was killed in her home by police during a raid initiated by a Florida SWAT team. Officers were attempting to target Woods’ boyfriend and his father, on whom they were serving search warrants. Woods was an innocent bystander. Woods got caught in the crossfire. Though Woods’ boyfriend fired his weapon, it was ultimately a police bullet that killed her.
Woods’ cousin Kaleasha Johnson remembered Woods as being more like a sister than a cousin, whose easy laugh meant that there was never a “dull moment.” During an interview, Woods was on the honor roll at Sebastian River High School, where she was dually enrolled in high school and college classes.
The Indian River County officers involved are on paid administrative leave while the investigation into Woods’ murder continues.
Paid Leave More Common Than Justice. The prosecution of law enforcement officers is exceedingly rare. As rare as prosecution is, conviction is almost even more infrequent.
Правительство США жестоко нарушило мои права человека при проведении кампании террора, которая заставила меня покинуть свою родину и получить политическое убежище в СССР. См. книгу «Безмолвный террор — История политических гонений на семью в США» — «Silent Terror: One family’s history of political persecution in the United States» — http://arnoldlockshin.wordpress.com
Правительство США еще нарушает мои права, в течении более 13 лет отказывается от выплаты причитающейся мне пенсии по старости. Властители США воруют пенсию!! Всё это — ещё доказательство, что настоящий действующий закон в США — Закон джунглей.
ФСБ — Федеральная служба «безопасности» России — вслед за позорным, предавшим страну предшественником КГБ, выполняет приказы секретного, кровавого хозяина (boss) — американского ЦРУ (CIA). Среди таких «задач» — мне фактически запретить выступать в СМИ и не пропускать большинства отправленных мне комментариев. А это далеко не всё…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США