is police brutality against african american real
There was nothing illegal happening at the party. Yet I was arrested and cited for “resisting or obstructing a peace officer.” The officers said they entered the backyard out of concern for the safety of those at the party, but the only danger anyone faced that night was at the hands of the Peoria Police Department.
Beyond my physical injuries, this experience has taken a huge toll on me mentally. I’m now fearful of the police, and I constantly worry that something like this could happen to me again.
Princeton University politics professors Jonathan Mummolo and Dean Knox were among the academics who criticized the study and questioned the value of knowing the race of police officers involved in fatal shootings at all. In January, they published a letter in PNAS and an op-ed in The Washington Post stating that the Johnson-Cesario study “was based on a logical fallacy and erroneous statistical reasoning, and sheds no light on whether police violence is racially biased.”
Last September, Manhattan Institute fellow Heather Mac Donald, a longtime foe of police reform, testified before a U.S. congressional committee that the reported “epidemic of racially biased police shootings of black men” is false.
The forms of police brutality to which this situation gave rise were variable and generally not limited to physical assault (e.g., beatings) and excessive use of force. They also included unlawful arrests, verbal abuse (e.g., racial slurs) and threats, sexual assaults against African American women, and police homicides (murders of civilians by police). Police were also sometimes complicit in drug dealing, prostitution, burglaries, protection schemes, and gun-smuggling within African American neighbourhoods.
Notwithstanding the variety among groups that have been subjected to police brutality in the United States, the great majority of victims have been African American. In the estimation of most experts, a key factor explaining the predominance of African Americans among victims of police brutality is antiblack racism among members of mostly white police departments. Similar prejudices are thought to have played a role in police brutality committed against other historically oppressed or marginalized groups.
In 2016, the Pew Research Center surveyed the public’s opinions about police performance and found wide gaps in perception between black and white respondents, said Rich Morin, a pollster and senior editor for Pew. In the survey, only 33 percent of African Americans said police do a good or excellent job of using the right amount of force in each encounter compared to the 75 percent of white Americans who believed in the judgement of police.
Black men and boys face the highest risk of being killed by police–at a rate of 96 out of 100,000 deaths. By comparison, white men and boys face a lower rate of 39 per 100,000 deaths, despite being a bigger portion of the U.S. population. Overall, men faced a rate of 52 per 100,000 deaths.
Another way to determine whether racial bias is a factor is by examining police behavior when their target is unarmed and not on the attack. This is what University of Nebraska at Omaha criminology professor Justin Nix examined in his 2017 study on police killings. Nix’s research, which Cesario cites often in his own study, also focuses on police shooting-killings in 2015, when police killed nearly twice as many white people that year (495) than they did black people (258). But 15 percent of the black people police killed that year were unarmed, compared with just 6 percent of white people who were unarmed when killed by police. The study also found that 24 percent of African Americans and 32 percent of other non-white racial groups were not attacking police officers when they were killed, compared to 17 percent of white people. This was interpreted as “preliminary evidence of an implicit bias effect,” against African Americans and people of color.
The two studies are just the latest salvos in a long-running debate over whether police violence towards African Americans is better explained because of racial prejudice or because black people are really violent enough to justify extra police force. The Cesario study, with its focus on crime rates, seems to fall in the latter camp. Both rely on media-generated police shootings data—Cesario’s uses databases produced by The Washington Post and The Guardian.