These Police Killings Reveal Disturbing Problems

Do Not Cross Line police tape
William Anderson
February 5, 2021

A nationwide NPR investigation identified 135 Black people that the police have killed since 2015. What connects them all highlights one of the fundamental problems of policing: they were all unarmed. The details of these shootings reveal many things we need to consider.

Plenty of these officers had ethics violations, had committed crimes on the job, or had piled up complaints, some for use-of-force incidents. One officer was only on the job for four hours before he killed an unarmed person! This says a lot.

Some police involved in these shootings have been able to kill people multiple times and continue their jobs unbothered. One victim was Ronell Foster, who was killed by one of the “Fatal 14,” a group of officers known for their killings in Vallejo, California. Other details are more specific.

At least 75% of the officers were white, and 60% were in the South. More than a quarter were in Texas, Georgia, and Louisiana. 

Whether someone is armed or unarmed, police are more likely to kill Black people. This isn’t just about who has a weapon and who doesn’t.

It’s about legal protections that shield officers from facing consequences. This isn’t a coincidence! Officers can kill and get away with it because of legal doctrines like “qualified immunity” which grants them legal protection. One way to fight is to abolish racist protections that happen at our expense!

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