AFRICANGLOBE – In case you’ve been under a rock lately, it is becoming quite clear that police in the US can and will kill people, even unarmed people, even on video, and do so with impunity.
The tallying methods, or rather lack thereof, used by both the FBI and individual police departments to count the amount of people killed by police, have been shown to be staggeringly inaccurate.
However, this inability of the government to count the number of people it kills, has been met with multiple alternative means of calculating just how deadly the state actually is.
One of these citizen run databases, is the website www.killedbypolice.com. The site is basically a spreadsheet that lists every person killed by cops in the years 2013 and 2014. In addition to naming those killed, it also provides a link to media reports for each of the killings, age, sex and race if available.
The tally for 2014? 1,100 people killed by those sworn to protect. That is an average of three people a day.
Do not mistake this as saying that those who were killed were innocent. However, when we look at violent crime in this country, we can see that it is at an all time low.
While violence among citizens has dropped, violence against citizens carried out by police has been rising sharply.
When we look at citizens killed by police over the last two years, deaths have increased 44 percent in this short time; 763 people were killing by police in 2013.
As a comparison, the total number of US troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq, in 2014 was 58.
Fewer soldiers were killed in war than citizens back home in “the land of the free” in 2014, by a large margin.
So Why Is That?
Is this some natural tendency of police in “free societies” to kill their citizens more, in an effort to maintain this freedom? Hardly, and hardly is the US a free country.
According to the 2014 Legatum Prosperity Index released in November, in the measure of personal freedom, the United States has fallen from 9th place in 2010 to 21st worldwide—behind such countries as Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Uruguay and Costa Rica.
Other such rankings systems show the US as low as 46.
Let’s look at our immediate neighbors to the north, Canada. The total number of citizens killed by law enforcement officers in the year 2014, was 14; that is 78 times less people than the US.
If we look at the United Kingdom, 1 person was killed by police in 2014 and 0 in 2013. English police reportedly fired guns a total of three times in all of 2013, with zero reported fatalities.
From 2010 through 2014, there were four fatal police shootings in England, which has a population of about 52 million. By contrast, Albuquerque, N.M., with a population 1 percent the size of England’s, had 26 fatal police shootings in that same time period.
China, whose population is 4 and 1/2 times the size of the United States, recorded 12 killings by law enforcement officers in 2014.
Let that sink in. Law enforcement in the US killed 92 times more people than a country with nearly 1.4 billion people.
It doesn’t stop there.
From 2013-2014, German police killed absolutely no one.
In the entire history of Iceland police, they have only killed 1 person ever. After exhausting all non-lethal methods to detain an armed man barricaded in his house who actually shot 2 police officers, police were forced to take the 59-year-old man’s life. The country of Iceland grieved for weeks after having to resort to violence.
So why are police in the US so much more likely to kill than all of these other first world countries?
To better understand the multi-dimensional answer to that question, we can start by looking at the prison population of the US.
America imprisons almost twenty five percent of all people imprisoned in the world, although containing only about 5% of the worlds population, an extremely disproportionate share of people imprisoned globally.
The U.S. houses 2.3 million inmates, while China, a country with four times the population of the U.S., is a distant second with 1.6 million prisoners.
The war on drugs coupled with the military industrial state created by the US playing police of the world, has created a deadly combination.
A constant pursuit of new weaponry by the military has paved the way for the hand-me-down cycle of military gear to police departments.
The idea was that if the U.S. wanted its police to act like drug warriors, it should equip them like warriors, which it has—to the tune of around $4.3 billion in equipment, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
What we are calling the militarization of of police has already taken place, on a large scale. We are now seeing a domestic military, pretending to be a police force.
The time for peaceful resistance is now and more and more people are beginning to understand this.
Even retired police chiefs of large cities are watching from the sidelines with anxiety as they see their once, only slightly corrupt cities, turn into occupied militarized zones, ready to pounce on the first instance of civil opposition.
The most recent of former police chiefs coming to terms with the horrid consequences of their actions is Norm Stamper, former chief of the Seattle Police. Stamper was recently on the Colbert Report and Stephen Colbert asked him what happened during the infamous Seattle WTO protests in 1999 under his leadership. “Well we gassed non-threatening, non-violent protesters,” replied the former Chief of police for Seattle Washington.
Of course while Norm Stamper was a cop, he didn’t realize that his actions, no matter how “justified” by the state, would be contributing to a hellish future police state. Stamper, like myself a 4 year veteran of the USMC, and most of those who serve, or have served the state in some way, are unable to think outside of the paradigm while simultaneously supporting it.
“Like all members of the military profession I never had an original thought until I left the service.” -Two time medal of honor recipient General Smedley Butler, USMC
Because Stamper is out of the paradigm, he can see clearer now. According to his website, he wants to:
End the Drug War… Drive Bigotry and Brutality Out of the Criminal Justice System… Honor the Constitution… Build Respect for Cops…
So far, Stamper has been quite outspoken against the police state of which he was once complicit in creating. In order to affect change more people like Stamper need to come out. If half of the officers that were contacted spoke publicly about their concerns, we’d be in a much better place.
Unfortunately when officers do speak out against their own department they are met with horrid backlash from their peers.
When police fear the police, it is high time for change.
The overwhelming majority of police brutality cases stem from the war on drugs. When so many people are tasked with finding and prosecuting those in possession of a substance deemed illegal, the interactions become more frequent and less cordial. If we end that, we get the state out of the private lives of most individuals. This will only serve to lessen the scope of police harassment, in turn lessening the instance of brutality and killings.
By: Matt Agorist