Black Victims of Police Violence Are More Likely to Be Unarmed

Black Victims of Police Violence Are More Likely to Be Unarmed

The Guardian and The Washington Post released reports about police shootings and both news outlets show that Black victims are more likely to be unarmed than whites.

Published June 1, 2015

Natasha McKenna and Walter Scott (Photos from Left: Fairfax County Police, Walter Scott via Facebook)

There has been more attention placed on police misconduct in America than ever before. From Rekia Boyd to Freddie Gray, these names are a grim reminder of one of America's biggest social injustices.

So far in 2015, close to 400 people have died from police shootings, according to a special report from The Washington Post. Even more have died when including other violent police encounters, according to The Guardian, which released a special report called "The Counted" this week on police violence.

Consistent protests nationwide following reports of shooting deaths and hashtag activism in reaction to the incidents have kept the conversation going in the media. And the in-depth reports about police misconduct this week support what many activists have been saying about the killing of Black Americans by police.

One of the most startling facts is that African-Americans are 32 percent of unarmed victims of police violence, while Latinos make up 25 percent and Whites 15 percent, the Guardian reports. Similarly, The Washington Post reported that Blacks and Latinos were two-thirds of unarmed victims of police shootings. 

Meanwhile African-Americans make up 13.5 percent of the total U.S. population, while Hispanics are 17 percent and Whites, 77 percent, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. Why are African-Americans and Hispanics more likely to be victims than whites when they are much less of the U.S. population — especially in situations when they are unarmed?

“It’s troubling that we have no official data from the federal government,” Laurie Robinson told The Guardian. Robinson is the co-chair of Barack Obama’s task force on 21st-century policing. Both news organizations used police records and local news reports to compile databases. “I think it’s very helpful, in light of that fact, to have this kind of research undertaken,” Robinson she said. 

Moreover, 27 percent of the people killed during police encounters had mental illnesses. This brings to mind individuals such as Natasha McKennaAnthony Hill, Dontre Hamilton and Tanisha Anderson, who all suffered from mental illnesses and were killed by police in recent months. 

As the remainder of the year unfolds, the reality is that there will be other fatalities, but perhaps monitoring of police activity and the collection of cohesive data can bring forth reform to end police brutality in America.

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Written by Natelege Whaley

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