Friday, September 23, 2016

Why #BlackLivesMatter should be #PoorLivesMatter

Police killings are racially proportionate to US poverty—twice as many white Americans as black are in poverty and twice as many white Americans as black are killed by the police. When poor white people are equally likely to be killed by the police as poor black people, the problem isn’t a war on black people. It’s a war on poor people.
If you reduce the problem to race, you will only see that the police kill a racially disproportionate number of black Americans, which is certainly true— black people are 13.3% of the US, but 25% of people killed by the police are black.
But if you add class to the analysis, you will see that police killings are racially proportionate to America’s poor. The Kaiser Foundation reported twenty million white Americans and ten million black Americans in poverty in 2014—a ratio of two to one. Politifact noted, “Over the span of more than a decade, 2,151 whites died by being shot by police compared to 1,130 blacks”—a ratio of two to one.
Because Black Lives Matter puts the focus on black people, other truths about class and police killings are hidden, such as the fact that American Indians are more likely to be killed by the police than black people. Here’s the Counted’s breakdown of people per million killed by police in 2016:
5.49 Native American
4.16 Black
1.89 Hispanic/Latino
1.63 White
0.56 Asian/Pacific Islander
The racial list of who is most likely to be killed lines up with racial household income: Native Americans are poorest, followed by blacks, then Hispanics, then non-Hispanic whites, and finally Asian Americans. The basic rule for police killings: the richer the group, the less likely its members will be killed by police.
The effect of wealth applies within races too. Ryan Cooper notes, “…the difference in lifetime risk of incarceration is something like ten times as great for low-class blacks as it is for high-class blacks. If we assume that the police are generally arresting the same people they interact with generally, then something similar likely holds for police shootings.”
Focusing on black people killed by the police hides similar examples of white and Hispanic people killed under equally outrageous circumstances, like Robert Cameron Redus, pulled over for speeding and shot after saying sarcastically, “Oh, you’re gonna shoot me?” and Derek Cruice, killed while wearing nothing but basketball shorts, and Andy Lopez, whose toy gun was mistaken for a real one, and Christopher Roupe, who answered the door holding a WII controller, and Kristiana Coignard, a bipolar 100-pound teen who entered a police station carrying a knife, and Autumn Mae Steele, killed by a cop who was aiming at her dog, and David Kassick, shot lying facedown in the snow after being stopped for an expired inspection sticker, and Brenda Sewell, whose guards withheld her prescription medicine.
America’s police are trained to kill when they feel threatened and have little training for dealing with people who don’t follow orders — which explains why half of the people killed by the police have a disability, which ties into most victims being poor: the disabled are twice as likely to be poor.
Martin Luther King almost certainly would agree with the majority of black Americans who prefer #AllLivesMatter to #BlackLivesMatter. He said, “…there are twice as many white poor as Negro poor in the United States. Therefore I will not dwell on the experiences of poverty that derive from racial discrimination, but will discuss the poverty that affects white and Negro alike.”
He said that to support Basic Income as the best way to end poverty, but Basic Income may also offer the fastest way to reduce police violence. In a pilot program for Basic Income in Namibia, crime fell by 42%. By ending poverty, we can make a world where the police will be able to protect and serve everyone.
  1. Surprising New Evidence Shows Bias in Police Use of Force but Not in Shootings — The New York Times
  2. What I’ve Learned from Two Years Collecting Data on Police Killings: “it’s poor people who are killed by police.”
  3. Why Are So Many Black Americans Killed By Police? “a greater proportion of black Americans than white Americans live in poverty. Poverty is positively correlated with certain kinds of crime.”
  4. To end police violence, we have to end poverty: “For prison, the difference in lifetime risk of incarceration is something like ten times as great for low-class blacks as it is for high-class blacks. If we assume that the police are generally arresting the same people they interact with generally, then something similar likely holds for police shootings.”
  5. 95% of Police Killings in 2015 Occurred in Neighborhoods With Incomes Under $100,000
  6. Why do American cops kill so many compared to European cops? “…racism alone can’t explain why non-Latino white Americans are 26 times more likely to die by police gunfire than Germans. And racism alone doesn’t explain why states like Montana, West Virginia and Wyoming — where both perpetrators and victims of deadly force are almost always white — exhibit relatively high rates of police lethality.”
  7. How Racial Disparity Does Not Help Make Sense of Patterns of Police Violence by Adolph Reed: “…according to the Washington Post data, the states with the highest rates of police homicide per million of population are among the whitest in the country: New Mexico averages 6.71 police killings per million; Alaska 5.3 per million; South Dakota 4.69; Arizona and Wyoming 4.2, and Colorado 3.36. It could be possible that the high rates of police killings in those states are concentrated among their very small black populations — New Mexico 2.5%; Alaska 3.9%; South Dakota 1.9%; Arizona 4.6%, Wyoming 1.7%, and Colorado 4.5%. However, with the exception of Colorado — where blacks were 17% of the 29 people killed by police — that does not seem to be the case. Granted, in several of those states the total numbers of people killed by police were very small, in the low single digits. Still, no black people were among those killed by police in South Dakota, Wyoming, or Alaska. In New Mexico, there were no blacks among the 20 people killed by police in 2015, and in Arizona blacks made up just over 2% of the 42 victims of police killing.
  8. Is There Evidence of Racial Disparity in Police Use of Deadly Force? Analyses of Officer-Involved Fatal Shootings in 2015–2016: "When adjusting for crime, we find no systematic evidence of anti-Black disparities in fatal shootings, fatal shootings of unarmed citizens, or fatal shootings involving misidentification of harmless objects. Multiverse analyses showed only one significant anti-Black disparity of 144 possible tests. Exposure to police given crime rate differences likely accounts for the higher per capita rate of fatal police shootings for Blacks, at least when analyzing all shootings. For unarmed shootings or misidentification shootings, data are too uncertain to be conclusive."

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