*According to new data, the number of Black people killed by police has increased over the last two years, following the death of George Floyd.
According to data collected by The Washington Post, at least 1,055 people were killed by police nationwide last year. Black people accounted for 27 percent of those fatally shot in 2021 by law enforcement, according to the nonprofit group Mapping Police Violence.
In other words, Black people are twice as likely as white people to be killed by police officers.
“It’s bad and it’s sad, but it’s not shocking that we’re still being killed at a higher rate,” said Karundi Williams, the CEO of re:power, a national organization that trains Black people to become political leaders, as reported by NBC News. “When we have moments of racial injustice that is thrust in the national spotlight, there is an uptick of outrage, and people take to the streets. But then the media tends to move on to other things, and that consciousness decreases. But we never really got underneath the problem.”
Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the think tank Brookings Institution, said bringing attention to police brutality will not result in less police brutality.
“People perceive that people protesting in the streets leads to people caring more, and sometimes it leads to people resisting the change more. And in this case, we’re talking about officers resisting the change,” said Ray, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. “What we see in the immediate aftermath of the demonstrations is police officers’ hunkering down and standing behind the blue wall of silence even more.”
Williams noted that “The system wasn’t built to protect Black people. And until we get to the root cause of policing and police brutality and the differences in the way police treat Black folks versus white folks, we’re not going to get to change.”
Williams said the data means that “until we get to policies that dismantle the system that exists, we’re not going to see this stop.”
“We can say, ‘Things have changed because the national dialogue is changing.’ But until we get to the crux of the problem, we’re going to see this continue,” she said.
“We’ve seen a double-down on reform measures that have already been proven to not work, that don’t get to the heart of the white supremacy that is built into policing in this country,” said Leslie Mac, an organizer and activist from Brooklyn. “There’s nothing that actually addresses the root issues that exist within policing, whether that’s under-accountability, whether that’s the amount of weaponry they have at their disposal or whether it’s in who they’re accountable to.”
Carl Douglas, a Los Angeles civil rights lawyer, said “Change moves at the speed of an ocean liner and not a speedboat. I am optimistic, because I did see white people marching on behalf of Black civil rights, and that is progress. Those are incremental steps of progress. But they aren’t stopping the problem.”
Many people believe more training for officers could lead to fewer police-involved killings of Black Americans.
“‘They need training’ is the narrative that makes white folks feel good because it excuses their biases,” Douglas. “No, there has to be a cultural shift from the warrior-versus-them mentality to more of a guardian mentality.”
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