Deadly force and poor people

Police Shooting-MissouriSince June 2015, the British newspaper, The Guardian, is keeping The Counted, a sad running list of people who’ve been killed by police officers. From FiveThirtyEight, the police are killing people at roughly the same rate as before Ferguson, when teenager Michael Brown was shot in the street in August 2014.

But go back to The Guardian, which is a damn comprehensive approach to charting these deaths. Is there a uniform reporting form, or a clearing house here in the U.S. that (officially) collects such information? I’m not finding one. But The Guardian’s one works pretty well.

These awful numbers should make us ask a lot of questions, and not just about the race/ethnicity of the victims. How many of the people who were killed were poor? According to AlterNet, 95 percent of them were living in neghborhoods where the median income was less than $100.000, though hard numbers are difficult to come by. That means, according to AlterNet’s Zaid Jilani,

that incomes below this number are overrepresented by four times compared to the income distribution in how often they are killed by police.

Whatever their race or ethnicity, how many of the victims were living on the edge, financially?

I take some exception to this Salon article, “Criminalizing the Hustle,” but it raises an interesting point, including this one:

“Over the past few decades cities have turned to policing to fulfill two functions: to surveil and discipline black populations hardest hit by economic shifts and to collect revenue in the form of fines,” emails Lester Spence, a professor of political science at John Hopkins University and the author of “Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics.” “The black men most likely to be left out of the formal economy — who have to engage in various illegal hustles to make ends meet — are far more likely to suffer from police violence than other black men.”

I just finished “The Poverty Industry: The Exploitation of America’s Most Vulnerable Citizens.” That book was infuriating and I highly recommend it.

And thanks, Leftover, for the links.

Published by datingjesus

Just another one of God's children.

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  1. One filter I wish The Counted would include is the status of the officer(s) involved: on duty or off duty.
    WaPo’s Fatal Force project lists only “line of duty” incidents. This probably accounts for most of the difference (59) between the two project totals.

      1. Apparently the DOJ is working on a “pilot program” that would standardize some classifications for what limited data collection already exists but, as far as I know, no mandate that compels uniform LEA reporting is being considered.

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