Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A handy list of white victims of police abuse, or Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #AllLivesMatter

When Dylann Roof was arrested alive after murdering nine black church-goers in Charleston, SC, Traci Blackmon wrote:
Good thing he wasn't suspected of stealing a cigarillo...
Or picking up a toy gun in Walmart.
Or playing on a swing with his toy gun.
Or playing his music too loud.
Or running away from cops.
Or selling cigarettes on a corner.
Or driving in the wrong neighborhood.
Good thing his crime was killing 9 people in a prayer meeting.
...otherwise, he might be in a morgue instead of custody.
Blackmon alludes mostly to black people killed by the police (Michael Brown, John Crawford, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Eric Garner). Why she includes Jordan Davis, I'm not sure—Davis's killer was not a cop—and who she's referring to with "driving in the wrong neighborhood" I don't know either—Google tells of many people killed after driving into the "wrong neighborhood", and those examples include white people who drove into black neighborhoods. But Blackmon's general point is clear: she thinks that if Roof had been black, he would not have been taken alive.

She overlooks the obvious analogy, the duo known as the Beltway Sniper. Like Dylann Roof, John Allen Muhammad and  Lee Malvo targeted people of another race because they had been taught to understand power primarily in racial terms—Muhammad was a member of the US cult, the Nation of Islam. When they were captured, Muhammad and Malvo, like Roof, were taken into custody.
Blackmon may not mention them because they don't fit the #BlackLivesMatter narrative that police killings are primarily a matter of race. But The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded that US police killed 1,130 black people and 2,151 white people between 1999 and 2011. If that data is accurate, the police kill twice as many white people.
For every well-known black victim of the police, there are equivalent white victims:
Unarmed white people killed after a conflict with police
James Whitehead was shot in the head by a police officer of a different race than his.
Robert Cameron Redus, pulled over for speeding and shot after saying sarcastically, “Oh, you’re gonna shoot me?”
Jessica Hernandez, whose car may have been heading toward a police officer.
Jason Westcott, who probably did not know the intruders were the police, had $200 worth of marijuana in his home.
Derek Cruice, shot in the face while wearing nothing but basketball shorts.

Deven Guilford, 17, killed after flashing his lights at a police car that had bright lights.
White people killed holding a harmless object
Andy Lopez, a 13-year-old, killed because he was outside with a BB rifle.

Christopher Roupe, a 17-year-old, answered the door holding a WII controller.

Sal Colusi held a cell phone.

Eric Thompkins held a cell phone.

White people killed holding knives

James M. Boyd, a homeless man who may have been about to surrender.

Kristiana Coignard, a bipolar 100-pound teenager who entered a police station with a knife.

White people killed accidentally

Autumn Mae Steele, arrested for domestic abuse and killed by a cop who was trying to shoot her dog.

White people in no position to harm anyone

David Kassick, shot lying facedown in the snow after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker.

Michael E. Bell, shot with his hands cuffed behind his back.

Keith Vidal, restrained and tasered, then shot.

White people who died because of police neglect

Michael Saffioti, whose allergic reaction to his food was ignored.

Brenda Sewell, whose guards withheld her prescription medicine.

White people legally executed under questionable circumstances

Cecil Clayton, a mentally ill man whose brain was damaged in a sawmill accident.

Cameron Todd Willingham, convicted due to evidence that was discredited after his death.

A few white victims whose abuse wasn't fatal

Jonathan Meister, a deaf man who was tasered and beaten.

Colin Farmer, a blind man shot in the back with a taser because his stick was mistaken for a sword.

Ashley Gabrielle Huff, who spent a month in jail because spaghetti sauce on a spoon in her car was mistaken for meth.

Chad Chadwick, beaten, tasered, and thrown into isolation for two days after a friend called the police to report him as suicidal.

Christine Abbott, who sued Baltimore after a “rough ride” like the one that broke Freddy Gray’s neck.

Nicholas King, 14, shot because he held a toy rifle.
To race reductionists, statistics matter more than lives, so white victims are irrelevant. They focus on the fact everyone knows: if police killings were racially proportionate in a country where 77.7% of the population is white and 13.2 % is black, there would be six times as many white victims. But race is only the public face of police abuse. Candace McCoy, a criminologist at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said, "Felony crime is highly correlated with poverty, and race continues to be highly correlated with poverty in the USA." In “The Crime of Being Poor”, Paul Wright wrote, “White prisoners tend to share one thing with their black and Hispanic compatriots: poverty. Most prisoners report incomes of less than $8,000 a year in the year prior to coming to prison. A majority were unemployed at the time of their arrest.”

Here are the hard numbers on poverty in the US, from Poverty Rate by Race/Ethnicity:
United States19,027,40010,312,40012,853,1003,555,50045,748,400
While correlation is not causation, the fact that twice as many police victims are white and that fact that twice as many white people live in poverty suggests that police killings may actually be racially proportionate—not to the racial mix of the entire US, but to the racial mix of America’s poor.
ETA: The two-to-one ratio continues today, according to The Counted: people killed by police in the United States in 2015:


ETA: See comments for additions by readers.

ETA: The 2-1 ration is also at Investigation: Police shootings - Washington Post:

ETA: Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter—now with graphics