As of Oct. 17, police in this country have shot to death 717 persons so far in 2019. That’s more than the Bloods and Crips combined have killed this year or any year. So who are the real murderous gangstas?
Compare that 717 to 36, which is the number of police officers killed by gunfire in 2019 — and two of those were cops killing cops. I should point out that most cops who are killed by civilians are killed by white male civilians. For example, in 2016, 71 percent of the shooters who killed police officers were white men. That type of trend continued in 2017 and 2018 and continues in 2019. And since 1990, white far-right extremist groups killed 51 police officers, while Black far-left extremist groups (allegedly) killed 11 during that same time period.
Last year, police killed 1,164 civilians. The year before, they killed 1,147.
When the Bloods and Crips kill people, they know they’re likely to get arrested, charged, prosecuted, found guilty and jailed. But when police kill people, they know they’re not likely to get arrested, charged, prosecuted, found guilty or sentenced. In fact, they know they almost always will even keep their job and continue to have a license to kill. For example, in 2015 — which is similar to and typical of all the other years — about 98 percent of killer cops were never even charged! And of those who were charged, only one percent was convicted — and that one percent involved convictions for minor manslaughter charges instead of major murder charges.
If you don’t believe me when I say cops can and do commit murder with impunity, ask Eric Garner, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tanisha Anderson, Sean Bell, Kayla Moore, Tamir Rice, Alberta Spruill, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, and far too many others.
Oh, my bad. You can’t ask any of them anything. And that’s because they all were murdered.
By the way, as a criminal defense trial attorney for more than 25 years, I don’t use words like “murder” loosely. I know that word means an “intentional” killing and that an “intentional” killing means one that is “willful, deliberate, and premeditated.” That clearly applies to what happened to each of the aforementioned victims and far too many other victims.
I must point out that despite the fact that Blacks constitute only 13 percent of the population, they constitute, on average, about 25 percent (or more) of the persons murdered by cops each year since about forever.
Moreover, Blacks are three times more likely to be murdered by police than are whites. And 21 percent of the deceased Blacks were unarmed when they were murdered by police compared to just 14 percent of the deceased whites.
Furthermore, 13 of the 100 largest U.S. municipal police departments kill Black men at rates higher than the country’s civilian murder rate.
What’s the solution? Well, before I tell you what it is, I’ll tell you what it’s not. It’s not what we’ve been consistently told by nearly all Black pastors and nearly all Black politicians. They’ve told and keep telling us to do what I call the “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Step Dance.” And it goes like this: 1) Get Killed 2) March 3) Pray 4) Forgive 5) Repeat.
As a profoundly wise person once said, “Insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.” Accordingly, that dance is crazy.
So let’s try something different. Let’s try the following seven-part solution:
1. In the words of Frederick Douglass, “Agitate. Agitate. Agitate.” And this should consist of non-violent protests of all kinds, including civil disobedience as MLK advocated.
2. Elect progressive District Attorneys who aggressively prosecute all violent criminals, whether they’re wearing gang colors or blue uniforms.
3. Stop avoiding jury duty. Get on juries so you can do some real justice when police get arrested for proven brutality.
4. Vote out police brutality condoning judges and legislators and vote in police brutality condemning judges and legislators.
5. Demand enhanced psychological evaluations for police recruits. Also, require regularly scheduled community input for police officers to keep their jobs and especially to get promotions.
6. Make police officers personally liable (along with the city government) to pay civil judgments/settlements in connection with police brutality lawsuits.
7. Create and/or support youth-led anti-police brutality organizations (because us old folks have failed — and failed miserably by dancing around the problem instead of stepping on it and crushing it).
The opinions expressed in this commentary are his. View more opinions on phillytrib.com.