One of our Roamancing writer’s recently did the research and wrote a letter to a loved one about Systemic Racism, Police Brutality, and the positives that are coming out of the Black Lives Matter Protests and Marches to explain to them why the current Black Lives Matter protests and marches are needed. As we feel this is an important issue and think she did an excellent job of both researching and addressing the problem, we are sharing her letter in 3-parts, here, on Roamancing.com, and on StoryToG.ca. Her research is focused on the United States, but as is evident in the news in recent weeks, this is very much an issue that needs addressing here at home in Canada too. You can read the second part of her letter by clicking here and the final part of her letter here.
I took your advice and have been doing a lot of research and reading on the subject and I wanted to share with you what I’ve found.
It’s okay if we don’t see everything the same way – I’ll always listen and think about what you have to say and hope you’ll do the same for me! Because what’s the point of having a brain if I don’t use it for critical thinking? You taught me that.
Anyways love you lots and hope you’ll read with an open mind.Alex Charters
In regard to police brutality, I found these statistics:
In 2018, there were 996 fatal police shootings, and in 2019 this figure increased to 1,004. Additionally, the rate of fatal police shootings among black Americans was much higher than that for any other ethnicity, standing at 30 fatal shootings per million of the population as of June 2020. In 2019 data of all police killings in the country, black Americans were nearly three times more likely to die from police than white Americans. Other statistics showed that black Americans were nearly one-and-a-half times more likely to be unarmed before their death.
Overall, in 2019, 24 percent of all police killings were of black Americans when just 13 percent of the U.S. population is black – an 11-point discrepancy.
Despite the large number of police killings annually, police are almost never charged for excessive force violations. Between 2013 and 2019, 99% of killings resulted in no charges.
This is because qualified immunity shields government officials from personal liability in federal lawsuits unless they violate “clearly established” federal law. That means that even if a police officer violates someone’s constitutional rights, the victim can’t obtain damages from the officer unless he or she can show that the officer violated a right explicitly recognized by a prior court ruling.
Examples of Innocent People Shot and Killed by the Police:
Examples of police records of officers who were involved in shootings:
- Derek Chauvin: 18 filed complaints against him, only two closed with discipline.
- Tou Thao: 6 complaints, one still open, none closed with discipline.
- Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake: 4 use of force complaints .
- Aaron Dean: sexual assault charge before he was hired, reports of concern during his training.
This isn’t to say all cops are bad, but that the system is broken as it immunizes the police from the law. Police, who no doubt have terrifying jobs, need proper training in de-escalation and how to behave under stress.
Training in America:
- Louisiana: 360 hours to become a police officer. 500 hours to become licensed manicurist.
- Florida: 770 hours to become a police officer. 1,760 to become interior designer.
- North Carolina: 620 hours to become a police officer. 1,528 to become a licensed barber.
And to your point that “black people kill more black people” while that is true, it’s a somewhat misleading statement. White people also kill more white people because most people commit crimes to people they know or live near.
This also deflects from the real problem which is that police should not be killing people. Other murders do not excuse this fact. There is also no statistical correlation between violent crimes and police killing rates.
Regardless of all of that, even people who are “guilty” of crimes are not supposed to be killed by the police. Carrying a weapon (which is their right to bear arms from the Second Amendment in the United States), shouldn’t warrant a death sentence.
In one study, University of Colorado social psychologist Joshua Correll, brought in police officers to play a video game in which they were asked to shoot armed assailants. Half the targets were white, the other half black and some carried guns, the others phones or wallets. The results were that officers were quicker to shoot black people – both those who were armed and who weren’t.
“We rarely found the race of the officer to be a factor. Everybody shoots black people. It looks like a cultural stereotyping thing. These patterns are everywhere. In newspapers, they’ll show pictures more often if the subject is black and mention race more often if the subject is black. So, your brain starts to think that black people commit crimes.”
As a whole, from what I’ve read, this can be largely if not entirely be attributed to historical discrimination and current systemic racism.
Continue reading the second portion of this Open Letter to learn about the History of Systemic Racism and the final portion to discover the Positive Changes that have come from the Black Lives Matter Protests so far.
For a first hand account from the Black Lives Matter protests and marches in the United States, read Lori’s ‘Protesting Perspective from the June 2020 Black Lives Matter Protests‘.