Black Lives Matter Black Friday

More Unarmed Black Men Killed in 2014 Than All Other Races Combined

Police brutality against black man in 2014 obviously extended far beyond the deaths of Eric Garner and Michael Brown. The data on the violence and death perpetrated against America's black men, collected by  Samuel Sinyangwe's Mapping Police Violence, is both alarming and sad, but not exactly surprising.

"At least 1175 people were killed by police in 2014. 302 (26%) were black," Mapping Police Violence (MPV) estimated on its National Police Violence Map. "Black people were killed by police at 2x the rate of their representation in the general population."

MPV's data research also found that at least "56 unarmed black people were killed by police, more than all other races combined", and that "[p]olice killed at least 14 more black people in 2014 than in 2012, an increase of 5%. Police killings increased despite a drop in crime."

As MPV notes, Obama signed the Death in Custody Act in December, mandating that police forces report this data, but it's an open question as to when and how police will actually implement the law. But, you know, selective enforcement of the law is a police speciality.

Instead of waiting, MPV decided to source data from the "three largest, most comprehensive and impartial crowdsourced databases on police killings in the country"—FatalEncounters.org, the U.S. Police Shootings Database and KilledbyPolice.net. MPV also scoured social media, obituaries, police reports and "other sources to identify the race of close to 90 percent of all victims in the database."

[A] black person in St. Louis is four times more likely to be killed by police than a black person living in New York City.

"Taken together, we believe the data represented on this site is the most comprehensive accounting of people killed by police for the year 2014," they write. "We hope these data will be used to provide greater transparency and accountability for police departments as part of the ongoing campaign to end police violence in our communities."

The data includes information on 1175 known police killings, according to MPV, including "unintentional and off-duty killings as well as in-custody deaths that occurred in 2014 (There may be killings that did not get reported by the media and, as a result, did not get included in this database)".

MPV also found that a black person in St. Louis is four times more likely to be killed by police than a black person living in New York City. Also notable is that a black person in Florida is more than 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than a black person in Georgia.

Image by The All-Nite Images (Creative Commons)

Image by The All-Nite Images (Creative Commons)

Startling, to be sure, but what conclusions should be drawn from this data? Are police in St. Louis and Florida racist? Are the psychological tests of new police recruits severely lacking? Is the police training inferior to other cities? Are we to believe that black men are more criminal and violent in that St. Louis and Florida? Are the police more criminal and violent, and are there other problems in law enforcement cultures?

As MPV notes, in Canada—home to more black people than Missouri—only one black person was killed nationwide in 2014. What is Canada doing right that Missouri is not?

Sure, Mapping Police Violence's data research isn't complete. But their effort does emphasize the importance of forcing America's police departments to collect and publicly release this information. If they demand we follow the law, then they must, too.