‘Thousands of Police Killings Are Unreported’

...the title of Margaret Kimberly’s  Oct. 6, 2021 column.  A few moths ago I’d emailed Ms. Kimberly, the man who handles readers comments (Choudray?), and Glen Ford (November 5, 1949 – July 28, 2021, Rest in Power), to ask why the content was no longer labeled Create Content at the bottom.  Only brother Glen had responded, and was quite baffled about my question.  I explained that for some reason, the content never ended, but kept scrolling and scrolling, as in: there IS no bottom.   He finally wrote back to consider it all free to publish, bless his ailing heart.

I’ll take him at his word, given the significance of this news.

Police killings of Black people are a feature of American law enforcement and they are deliberately under counted.

The New York Times and other outlets report that most police killings in this country are “mislabelled .” The sanitized language is worse than an understatement because it implies that these murders are categorized improperly due to ordinary human error. In fact, there is a long and sordid history of covering up these crimes. The initial coroner’s report for George Floyd, whose murder was witnessed by millions of people, reported drug use and underlying health conditions as the causes of death.

According to a report in the Lancet , between 1980 and 2018 police in the U.S. killed an estimated 30,800 people. This number is 17,000 more than reported by the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), which is a misclassification rate of 55%. The deaths of Black people are the most likely to be undercounted, with 5,670 deaths missing out of an estimated 9,540.

It isn’t hard to see how this happens. Coroners are part of the law enforcement system and work closely with the police and prosecutors. Even if they are dedicated to telling the truth they are often pressured to do otherwise when police, their colleagues, are the perpetrators.

Not only have half of all these deaths gone unreported, but this new data once again comes from groups dedicated to keeping track of these crimes, and not from any governmental source. The Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s 2012 Operation Ghetto Storm report was the first to inform the public about the toll of police violence. It was through Operation Ghetto Storm that we learned a Black person is killed by police, private security, or vigilantes every 28 hours. Yet even this groundbreaking effort didn’t capture the full toll.

Thanks to Fatal Encounters , Mapping Police Violence , and the Guardian’s project The Counted , we have a fuller idea of the scope of police violence and how it is routinely swept under the rug. There is still no centralized government database of police killings. While their contributions are valuable, private citizens and the media should not be doing the job of the Justice Department. No one should have to guess how often the police kill when there is a federal agency charged with enforcing the law.

Then again, the law is the problem. All talk of reform and corrections and rehabilitation are farcical in a country dedicated to the use of brute force against Black people. The issue of under-reported police killings demonstrates the systemic injustice of law enforcement, which is dedicated to keeping Black people under physical control.

So great is the imperative to justify the killings that medical examiners often collude with the cops in their cover up schemes. In 47 documented cases, medical examiners falsely claimed that sickle cell trait (SCT) was the cause of death for Black men killed during police encounters. SCT is not a disease. It is a benign genetic condition that is not associated with decreased life expectancy. The President of the American Society of Hematology publicly stated, “The use of sickle cell trait to cover up the deaths of Black people while in police custody is abhorrent and has no scientific or medical merit.” Black lives don’t matter to the state or even to the medical community if telling the truth becomes inconvenient.

Discussions about policing must not skirt around what is undeniable. Anti-Black racism permeates every sector of society and guarantees everything from job discrimination to police killings and extensive efforts to cover up the crimes.

As a result of this corruption, medical examiners, prosecutors, and politicians never pay a price for their role in hiding the criminality. Former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and that city’s lawyers forced Laquan McDonald’s family to hide the video which showed how he was killed as a condition of being compensated $5 million for his wrongful death. The deal was done the day after Emanuel won a close primary race in 2016. He has faced no repercussions for his actions and was recently confirmed as the U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Systemic racism, official collusion, and the lack of a consistent and strong movement ensure that the death toll will be high and the likelihood of justice will remain low. These new reports of hidden killings are important and are to be commended. But they must be the basis for forcing radical changes in policing and to punishing all those who aid and abet. If that is not the case, there will be endless exhortations to “say their names” without any hope of seeing justice done."

When I’d reported on Operation Ghetto Storm (130 pages long; 29 are text, photos, and graphics, Memorial pages.  The remaining pages are charts identifying the dead with photos, locations, armed or not, mental health issues, self-medicating issues or not, police report claims and alleged circumstances, then additional comments pertaining to dissenting eye-witness claims, investigations yielding X effects or ongoing ones, etc.) at My.Firedoglake on April 24, 2013, as I recall, there were few, if any comments.  As in: it depend on one’s perception, as in the following:

Trévon Austin’s 1 October 2021 coverage of the news at wsws.org is lengthy and excellent, but differs as to reportage:

“The national media and the Democratic Party frame police violence as a purely racial issue. Following the sentencing of former Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin, President Joe Biden claimed the murder of George Floyd “ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism” imbedded in American society.

The “race, not class” mythology of police killings has been incessantly promoted by the Democratic Party and its political satellites. Regardless of a victim’s skin color, the epidemic of police violence in America devastates families and impacts entire communities. However, this is not how police brutality is presented in the national media.

Austin also pithily notes:

“The new study provides a clearer picture of the issue of police violence in the United States. However, it does not fully account for the real social toll. What’s missing from this report is the untold number of victims that are brutalized by police but survive the physical and emotional scars bore by the victims and their families and the immeasurable suffering inflicted on families and communities that lose a loved one at the hands of police.”

“Researchers discovered the top five states with the highest underreporting rates were Oklahoma, Wyoming, Alabama, Louisiana and Nebraska. The states with the highest mortality rate of police brutality were Oklahoma, Washington D.C., Arizona, Alaska, Nevada and Wyoming. Additionally, the paper found that men are killed by police at significantly higher rates than women, with 30,600 police-involved deaths recorded among men and 1,420 among women between 1980 and 2019, a difference of over 2,000 percent.”


(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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hair on the back of the neck raising... but also not surprising.

Thank you so much for sharing it!

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

wendy davis's picture

@Fishtroller 02

i guess that 'killed by police while in custody' is a wide brush, but to me it's: while in jail or a police station', a very long list, including sandra bland, marvin booker, street preacher of MKL's teachings) in the denver PD (he'd gone back to retrieve his only pair of shoes).

but it could also mean folks like kelly thomas in fullerton, ca, homeless, schizophrenic, beat to death by cops.

just in the past several months, police gunned down three autistic males, largely due to the fact that 'they didn't follow police orders'. they were unable to, of course.

i'd barely glanced at the Guardian's the counted (2016 2017?), but iirc, eric garner (choked to death for selling 'loosies' on the sidewalk) was one who was 'mislabeled'.

i'll offer that wsws always says that it's 'class not race', but various BAR authors have offered black po-po for black communities; i disagree), but glen had finally had asked for 'community policing'. in ABQ citizen review boards went...nowhere.

thanks for reading, caring, and commenting, amiga.

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While I am not surprised, I still am shocked. Not too long ago, a drug addict died in the county jail because the guards and medical staffed refused/ignored his pleas for help. Of course the death was in no way called negligent manslaughter. The worst that happened was that the sheriff refused to renew the contract with the medical company responsible for prisoner health.

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wendy davis's picture

@MrWebster

and how avoidable. of course no one will ever know if the po-po on guard meant for him to die r were too lazy to get off their asses to check (yes, i'm a cynic by now).

more death in custody. jeezum crow.

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https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/qualified-immunity-police-lobbyi...

Dozens of states have tried to end qualified immunity. Police officers and unions helped beat nearly every bill.

In the months after George Floyd’s murder, state legislators across the country tried to undo a legal doctrine that makes it virtually impossible to sue police officers for violating a person’s civil rights.

Fueled by outrage over the actions of former Minnesota officer Derek Chauvin, the efforts to eliminate “qualified immunity” seemed poised to usher in a new era empowering citizens who felt wronged by police.

But then, in state after state, the bills withered, were withdrawn, or were altered beyond recognition. At least 35 state qualified-immunity bills have died in the past 18 months, according to an analysis by The Washington Post of legislative records and data from the National Conference of State Legislatures.

The efforts failed amid multifaceted lobbying campaigns by police officers and their unions targeting legislators, many of whom feared public backlash if the dire predictions by police came true. Officers said they would go bankrupt and lose their homes. They said their colleagues would leave the profession in droves.

While advocates of overturning the doctrine argued that qualified immunity allows rogue officers to brutalize citizens without paying a personal price, law enforcement officials countered that it protects police from being financially destroyed for the rapid life-or-death decisions they must make on the job.

So far, police are winning the argument nearly everywhere.

Among at least four bills that are still alive, three initially called for a complete ban on qualified immunity. One of these, in Michigan, has since been amended to allow use of the legal defense in many instances. And among the seven qualified-immunity bills that have become law since last year, only Colorado has completely barred the legal defense for officers. Iowa actually strengthened qualified-immunity rights of its officers, and Arkansas did so for its college and university police officers.

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wendy davis's picture

@humphrey

and too many disgusting an disturbing examples past the ten-yr-old boy and in aurora, co elijah mcclain. i couldn't find any mention of the reason he wore a ski-mask regularly, but here's his wiki entry, the poor kid. it notes that his final words were:

"I can't breathe. I have my ID right here. My name is Elijah McClain. That's my house. I was just going home. I'm an introvert. I'm just different. That's all. I'm so sorry. I have no gun. I don't do that stuff. I don't do any fighting. Why are you attacking me? I don't even kill flies! I don't eat meat! But I don't judge people, I don't judge people who do eat meat. Forgive me. All I was trying to do was become better. I will do it. I will do anything. Sacrifice my identity, I'll do it. You all are phenomenal. You are beautiful and I love you. Try to forgive me. I'm a mood Gemini. I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. Ow, that really hurt! You are all very strong. Teamwork makes the dream work. Oh, I'm sorry, I wasn't trying to do that. I just can't breathe correctly."

myownself, i tend to agree with this sentiment by and large: Fuck the Police. goddam.

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zed2's picture

Luckily fully private companies arent subject to GATS rules like ones involving any tax money are. Only the ones that offer the stability public ones did. The entire economy is being restructured along neoliberal ideology. Yes, it really is a coup, but one that has absolutely nothing to do with trump. He was just the cover up, the distraction, from GATS

Police will come from South Africa or the South Pacific. Huge firms that specialize in imprisoning the powerless for profit. The US is the biggest booster. Isnt it skillful how shamelessly the information poor voters are being manipulated into doing the billionaires biddings??

Do the unions know this is happening, it sure sounds like they dont.

This has nothing to do with Trump, We've fallen for the biggest scam in history.

Nobody knows pain until they have betrayed by somebody they thought was their family and paid such a high price for it. It just eats away at you. Maybe people will move to other countries. The cost of living there and here will demand it.

No money, no honey. The developing countries will be where the jobs go.

Yes, they will do this, this is not a joke. Its international law. US workers are too expensive. TPTB want to privatize everything thats public - even police, postal, teaching and public schools.

Every job that involves government spending in the infrastructure bill will be globalized unless its very small (I think $400000 for the entire contract) the total doesn't meet the cost threshold (size of the contract) Read up on how government procurement works.

(especially the meanings of the terms "Most Favored Nation" and "National Treatment"

Thats the plan. This will push US wages down to global norms or lower.

We have to let them bid for and if they are cheaper, and they will be, perform the jobs.

Americans are alleged to expect too much pay. We're (copmpared to other rich nations) undereducated and under skilled. Our expectations are alleged to be unrealistic, especially those of young people. People carry debt and that makes it clear they will want too much money.

What about the temping companies that will. They will have to pay their foreign workers at least a legal US wage, which is currently around $9.00/hr assuming a 40 hour week which is unrealkistic. These companies often are compared to modern slavery. (they are often compared to the kafala system) This is supposed top be the future of work as jobs become scarce.

This is supposed to be the soft of payback to the Third World's (rich dictators and ruling class) for colonialism and for fully rejecting Communism.

A real air of triumphalism rules our new masters in Geneva!

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wendy davis's picture

@zed2

on GATS, but i admit thatit's a bit beyond my ken.

also videos over 6 minutes are srsly bad for my health, and twice i'v tried, and had major vertigo crashes from which i've never healed. mr. wd got me a small cell phone i adapted to wear around my neck on a ribbon so i can reach him when i wake up from a crash. we call it my 'bra buddy'. ; )

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snoopydawg's picture

@zed2

to hire foreign workers to take the nurse's jobs that she fired for not getting vaccinated. She signed an executive order to do just that. For now she’s using the national guard who don’t have to be vaccinated until June 2022. She is also firing teachers and bringing in foreign workers for them too. It’ll be interesting to see how Americans take their jobs being given away. Cops can be replaced with mercenaries too. Again I thought I’d be dead before the crap hit the fan, but no such luck.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

https://thehill.com/regulation/court-battles/576014-doj-wont-pursue-char...

The Department of Justice announced on Friday that it would not pursue charges against the officer who shot Jacob Blake multiple times in the back last year.

“After a careful and thorough review, a team of experienced federal prosecutors determined that insufficient evidence exists to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the [Kenosha Police Department] officer willfully violated the federal criminal civil rights statutes,” the DOJ said in a press release on Friday, adding that a review of the case was now closed.

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wendy davis's picture

@humphrey

for me, amigo. ah...intent...who needs other po-po testilying, or professionals hired to 'Re-enact the crime' for juries: 'See, a split scn decision'...yada, yada.

i know this is mainly about people of color, and quite dated, but it's been the sound track in my heart and mind today, and it still makes me cry:

HELL YOU TALMBOUT-Janelle Monáe & friends

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wendy davis's picture

@wendy davis amadou diallo, 41 shots

The shooting occurred about 12:40 a.m. on Feb. 4, 1999, when the four officers, all in street clothes, approached Mr. Diallo on the stoop of his building and fired 41 shots, striking him 19 times, as he retreated inside. The officers, who are white, said they had thought he had a gun. It turned out to be a wallet.

bruce springtein's heart-piercing memorial:

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zed2's picture

I guess what I am trying to explain is that the good things (like jobs that are worth having) that nonwhite Americans and the young think are theirs are promised to other people formally. Not them. Public entities still employ a lot of people but that is supposed to change, if something is subsidized the Indian outsourcing firms consider it their entitlement if they bid cheaper.

Our rich have been milking these promises for easy income for >25 years. They have gotten rich off them. Where will the American displaced people go? Maybe Latin America? Homeless? In law apartments? Maybe if they can find affordable ones) Cost of heating will displace a lot of apartment dwellers too. The wanna-be building flippers, who radiate entitlement to milk apartment buildings they buy for profits by tossing out renters and doing superficial renovations ("tarting them up") are everywhere. Common theme is taking extreme advantage of power inequalities. I cant help but wonder how much the young (who are really getting screwed) will take. Children are increasingly a luxury. These changes are all being pushed by the rich because they know jobs are going away for good and they all want to "get theirs" while they can. After all they own the country, they say.

. Basically the capitalist system has been taking all the value out for the rich and leaving everybody else with nothing. These takers are also endemic throughout the third world. If any debts are owed to the people of thoise former colonies this group must include only the poor and those who lost family members to the misdeeds of countries like the UK, Belgium, france, Germany, Holland, etc. Not us. Also our poor people shouldn't be foprced to give up their jobs for the rich's profits.

those countries they are owed to their poor and not their rich. But their poor dont have the skills for the jobs that are taken from the Americans and the US jobs are vanishing away so the Third World rich rich are willing and ready to pay for them. Ifs the ending of affirmative action, basically. The reversal of racism wasnt supposed to be so transitory. Also, if a New Deal is supposed to happen it shouldnt cancel out the real one.

We can thank Bill Clinton for this signature on the URAA on December 8, 1994 and the creation of the WTO, our new world government in Geneva.

WTO is a scam. One country one vote, no appeal.
. Maybe he should pay the US people what a buyout would be worth for the loss of their once good public jobs. By 2045 the IEEE estimates that unemployment will be the norm in employment in the US.

Machines are just so good at doing more and more jobs.

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wendy davis's picture

@zed2

wet dream. i remember the WTO 'battle in seattle' long ago. i'd been familiar with GATT, but not GATS. the wiki says that a Gats-watch (2003)exists:

and names some of thee criticisms:

The GATS agreement has been criticized for tending to substitute the authority of national legislation and judiciary with that of a GATS Disputes Panel conducting closed hearings. WTO member-government spokespersons are obliged to dismiss such criticism because of prior commitment to perceived benefits of prevailing commercial principles of competition and 'liberalisation'.

While national governments have the option to exclude any specific service from liberalisation under GATS, they are also under pressure from international business interests to refrain from excluding any service "provided on a commercial basis". Important public utilities such as water and electricity most commonly involve purchase by consumers and are thus demonstrably "provided on a commercial basis". The same may be said of many health and education services which are sought to be 'exported' by some countries as profitable industries.[6]

This definition defines virtually any public service as being "provided on a commercial basis" and is already extending into such areas as police, the military, prisons, the justice system, public administration, and government.

Over a fairly short time perspective, this could open up for the privatisation or marketisation of large parts, and possibly all, of what today are considered public services currently available for the whole population of a country as a social entitlement, to be restructured, marketised, contracted out to for-profit providers, and eventually fully privatised and available only to those who can pay for them.

This process is currently far advanced in most countries, usually (and intentionally) without properly informing or consulting the public as to whether or not this is what they desire.

sorry if i blew that, my left eye's a bit dodgy this morning. but i think i hear you now; thanks. it's all like a global version of ALEC. not surprising teflon billy clinton is such a comprador, eh?

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Dawn's Meta's picture

My fair city, Portland, Oregon has been in the media a lot. The history of violence towards people of color (black) and within their communities is long and deep. It is a nasty and especially horrible in one of the US' whitest cities.

There have been some attempts over the years to 'fix' things, but never a comprehensive approach to mental health needs, houselessness and other systemic problems.

Here is an extensive article in The Nation which does a pretty good job of laying out the problems in Portland.

I'll never forget my parents telling us stories about their first few years in Portland: White Trade only signs; Bensen Bubbles for whites only; KKK burning a cross on the convent lawn in 1947 or so at Saint Mary's right near Portland State (a Catholic HS I later went to for my first two years of High School.); My dad a dark Sicilian with wavy black hair who had to put up with references to the Mob, Dego, WOP, and other things including the N-word. He made a good living and better retirement as a public employee.

Later, living in Hood River, I learned about the treatment of Japanese people who had developed the orchards and after internment in WWII, returned to find their farms confiscated. The book 'Stubborn Twig' details the stories of these immigrant families.

Here is the link to the Nation article:
The Past 2 Years Have Left Portland Reeling. What Kind of Recovery Comes Next? Will efforts to rehabilitate Portland’s brand eclipse the tentative steps taken toward real reform? By Zoë CarpenterTwitter

Take care.

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A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they know they shall never sit. Allegedly Greek, but more possibly fairly modern quote.

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wendy davis's picture

@Dawn's Meta

White Makes Right, japanee internment all.

your nation link went to the 'subborn twig' again instead, but i was easy enough to find.

i suppose her take as to R v D may be correct in portland, given DT's visits, but this made me laugh:

The immense Black Lives Matter demonstrations here in the summer of 2020 and Trump’s decision to send federal forces into the city made Portland a mainstream media story. Much of the coverage fixated on vandalism committed by the most extreme of Portland’s activists. In an article in Forbes in January, a consultant who lives in a wealthy suburb likened Portland to Pompeii, contending that “violence and vandalism” were pushing the city toward “death.” A local news anchor (who also lives outside the city) wrote that it “has become the city of trash and filth.” New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who is considering a run for Oregon governor, decried a lack of “law and order” in the city.

homelessness is often the collateral damage of High rise Gentrification, and i well remember the stories of the homeless camps there being...demolished, and iirc, the demolition was aided by prisoners earning a buck an hour or something.

in the SW, it's largely first americans who are killed by police or otherwise immiserated.
our adopted black/azteca son was the only identifiably black person here, and he was persecuted in many ways at school 'nigger' on his locker, followed by security (and worse) in stores to the west of us. a friend stopped by the other day and said she didn't really think there was racial bias in this area.

heh; i just remember ed that she told me our friend TK (ute mtn ute sundance chief) told us he'd tried to talk to her at a grocery store. 'Oh,' she said, 'i keep my head down around indians' (or close to that.

but it seems there's always a pecking order: many tribes in the SW kinda feel superior to black-skinned people. go figure.

our son May come to see us this weekend; he lives in NW co on the eastern slope, and is moving right now further north. so i've been trying to get ahead on cooking, and yes, one of his faves....in case he does make it.

it's supposed to snow here on tuesday, and while the bountiful garden, including zillions of flowers) is winding down...

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snoopydawg's picture

Young black children were arrested for not breaking up a fight.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/black-children-were-jailed-for-a-crime-th...

Plus there’s a judge who loves to sentence kids to prison and has a lady cop friend who does the dirty work for her. This cop has 37 complaints against her but she is still in place.

Someone on Twitter said that it’s amazing that kids are expected to break up fights, but cops have no duty to do that.

A few years ago a judge got busted for doing just that and went to prison himself. Hopefully if this judge has done that then she too will be heading there soon. Anyone who abuses their power has no place upholding the law. How many people in high places knew what she was doing and just looked the other way? On kids?

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

#FailureToStopaFight

Oopsie:

#BlackElementaryStudentsFalToStopaFight.

what an f'ed up county!

remember the videos of horrors that school 'security officers' did to people of color in high schools?

just remembered, i'd seen this title in a newsletter a newsletter: As Many Chicago Schools Remove Cops From Hallways, Data Shows Some Schools Send Kids To Police At Alarming Rates, cbslocal

er...i might not read the rest until later... gawd's blood.

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snoopydawg's picture

@wendy davis

his crime? Singing too loudly in class. A cop can’t handle a 5 year old boy without doing that? BS it’s just cruelty. Mom of course sued and they settled off book.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

how sadistic. was it a 'classroom safety officer'? i just checked youtube for the black teen who had on headphones...and the 'officer' flipped over her desk/chair combo and tossed her on her back. 'Obey or else!' but i couldn't find it, but kicked up a hella lot of egregious stories of death and brain death, etc. by school 'security officers'.

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