I Can't Breathe
Is asking to not be murdered or targeted by the institutions that were created to protect Americans too much to ask for? Is asking to be treated as equal too much to ask for? Is asking to have the same opportunities as everyone else too much to ask for?
These are the questions Black Americans have been asking since they first came to the Americas in 1619. Of course there has been substantial progress, but four hundred years later there are still fundamental issues that seem to come up again and again and again.
The lynching of George Floyd as he begged for his life on the streets of Minnesota by 4 cops has caused a nation already on edge from the coronavirus to explode. But this murder by the police is not an isolated incident. For decades, African Americans have been screaming that they have been targeted and murdered by the police. Yet, many Americans turned a blind eye as these injustices regularly occurred.
In the last decade, it seems as if police brutality against African Americans is rising. This has caused many Americans who were oblivious to this to begin calling out the injustices they saw on the news and social media. But ask any black person and they'll tell you the brutality is the same, it's just now being recorded.
Are Black Americans really being killed/targeted more?
If what you are about to read doesn't convince you that Black Americans are killed/targeted more than other races then nothing will convince you. Among young Black American males (below age 35), police related deaths are the 6th leading cause of death. Sixth!
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America concluded in a study from 2013-2018, police related incidents were the 6th leading cause of death among young black males. Per 100,000 black males, nearly 100 will die due to a police encounter.
The study found black men were 2.5x more likely to be killed by police than white men. Between the ages of 20 to 24, 1.6% of the deaths of black men is caused by the police which is triple the percentage of white men.
Tell me about 2015. Why is this year a good year to demonstrate police brutality against African Americans?
In 2015, 104 unarmed black people were killed across the US. This means every week, two unarmed black men were killed by the police. Despite being just 13% of the US population, 36% of unarmed killings by the police were African Americans. An unarmed black person was 5x more likely to be killed than an unarmed white person.
Out of the 104 cases of an unarmed black person being killed, only 13 of those cases had an officer being charged with a crime. And out of those 13 cases, only four have resulted in an officer being convicted of a crime. The longest jail sentence served by any convicted cop was no more than four years.
You like math? Let's do some math. Out of the 104 cases of an unarmed black person dying at the hands of the police, 12.5% had an officer charged for a crime. Out of those 13 cases, only 30% had the officer convicted. The normal conviction rate in the United States is above 85%.
So when someone asks you why they don't believe justice will be served, show them the stats from 2015.
Some will argue African Americans statistically commit more crime, therefore, doesn't it make sense that they would be killed at higher rates than other races?
It is true that a disproportionate amount of murders and other violent crimes are committed in African American communities. However, there have been numerous studies that show crime and police shootings don't necessarily have a correlation. A study by the Center for Policing Equity concluded if a person was black or white, the black person was more likely to be targeted for the use of police force. This was concluded using arrest and use-of-force data from 12 police departments.
There are researchers who do dispute those findings. Peter Maskos, a criminal justice researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, has done many studies that conclude African Americans are 2.5x more likely to get killed by police because crime in African American communities is more frequent than in neighborhoods of other races.
Is it that simple? Because they commit more crimes statistically, they get killed more often by police?
Sometimes statistics tell a full story, other times they don't. This article is a good example. On one hand, we showed for young black men, an encounter with a police officer is the 6th leading cause of death. That stat is pretty clear.
What about stats that show black people commit more crimes per capita, therefore they get shot by police more? Technically, that conclusion could be right based on stats. But there are variables you can't quantify into a stat. For example, racial biases. It's almost near impossible to quantify racial bias in a police shooting. This is not only the case for white officers but for black and Latino officers as well, who contribute to many of the police shootings of Black Americans.
How do you quantify poverty into your statistics? How do you quantify schools in predominantly black neighborhoods getting less funding than predominantly white neighborhoods (article on that coming soon)? How do you quantify policing policies that target minorities (Stop and Frisk)? How do you quantify laws put into place that target communities of color disproportionately (The Crime Bill of 1994)?
There are so many variables that contribute to the systemic racism that African Americans face. To simply say they commit more crimes, therefore they get shot more is a simplistic view that ignores a system designed to limit the upward mobility of African Americans.
A lot of stats there to help explain a lot of the anger in the streets. Are the protesters all marching against police brutality?
The death of George Floyd has triggered protests across the country. Hundreds of protests have broken out demanding justice for his lynching and for there to be major police reform. It's a message that has been been repeating over and over again. After Michael Brown was killed, these protests occurred, after Philando Castile was killed, these protests occurred, after Eric Garner was killed, these protests occurred, I can go on but you get the point.
These protests have come and gone but change has been slow to come. The protests for George Floyd have been larger and much more wide spread than previous protests. It is wonderful to see people of all races coming together to call for justice and police reform.
However, as with all things, these protests have become complicated. Cities across the country have been looted and damaged. Protesters and police have clashed causing for further distrust between the police and the citizens. But are these looters there for George Floyd and for police reform? The answer for a lot of them is no.
A majority of the people protesting have been passionate and channeled their anger in a non violent manner, Yet, many outside groups have infiltrated these protests and hijacked the original message to further their own agenda.
What or who is Antifa?
Anitifa is a far left wing movement that tries to confront fascism, racism and authoritarianism. What differentiates Antifa from other left wing groups is their reported use of violence. Antifa is not one big group that meets on Tuesday nights but a loose collection of groups, networks and individuals.
A lot of Antifa's agenda can be described as anarchy. For many of them, seeing everything burn to the ground and rebuilt would be a glorious event. In recent years, Antifa has found itself in the middle of these protests and have been accused of inciting violence and causing chaos which is counterproductive. This begs the question, are they doing more harm than good?
As Antifa members joined the protests, they began smashing cars and buildings. They also set fires to structures, burning down businesses and cars. A lot of the people who are considered Antifa are white. Despite them joining the protests, most of them will never wake up in the black neighborhoods they caused damage to. Most of them will not be there to help rebuild the damage that they caused.
Their presence and agenda of creating anarchy has also moved the narrative from George Floyd and police reform to looting and rioting. Because Black Lives Matters is the dominant message during these protests, this looting and rioting caused by Antifa is unfairly being associated with Black Lives Matters. It's causing confusion and distorting the original message of Black Lives Matters and police reform.
White Supremacist groups......wait, there are White Supremacist groups at these protests?
White Supremacist Groups have posted across various message boards to go to these protests to create havoc. By creating chaos and tension, these groups believe they can cause confusion and violence between the legitimate protesters and police.
Vice News has reported Neo Nazi's are hoping to turn the George Floyd protests into a new civil war. Reports have surfaced that members of the Boogaloo Bois were spotted at the Minneapolis protest wearing their signature Hawaiian shirts, yes you read that right, Hawaiian shirts.
There is a subset of White Nationalists called "Accelerationists". These folks believe society is over and want to see it collapse rapidly. Messages across 4Chan and other chat rooms have showed leaders inciting violence against black people.
How is Russia involved? What.....Russia?
Marco Rubio, the Republican senator from Florida, mentioned of foreign sources that were fueling the flames. As everyone knows, Russia interfered in our elections in 2016 by pumping out tons of misinformation across social media. Many intelligence analysts believe Russian troll bots are fueling the flames across the internet. A nation divided on racial tensions in an election year is a golden opportunity for the Kremlin. Rather than the US fight an external force, we are fighting ourselves. The article posted here was from the New York Times back in early March.(https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/us/politics/russian-interference-race.html)
What did Colin Kaepernick do to raise awareness of police brutality?
He peacefully told Americans there was a systematic issue with police brutality but a good amount of people didn't listen. Maybe now those who opposed his silent and peaceful protest are reconsidering their displeasure after witnessing what other types of protest can happen when injustices occur.
That's a good question.
Being a police officer is one of the most difficult jobs there is. Everyday, majority of police officers wake up, go to work, help their communities stay safe and just want to come home to their families. They deal with the worst of society. They can be heroes.
That being said, there is something fundamentally wrong with policing in the United States. Lethal force should be the last resort but in many instances it's the first, second or third. Community training is lackluster and there are too many officers who use that badge as a power trip. They are given the most delicate trust in society and it's constantly being violated.
We also don't have any leadership at the national level. Instead of calming the nation and preaching unity, the President of the United States is pouring gasoline on the fire with his tweets.
Also, Democratic leaders have not preached the same social distancing rules at these rallies as they had been preaching over the past several months. It's caused major concern that coronavirus can and probably will spread at some of these rallies.
Rest in Power George Floyd
George Floyd begged for his life. He pleaded to the officers that he couldn't breathe.
George Floyd was murdered over $20. The police were called because a merchant thought the $20 bill he was paying with was fake. Eric Garner was murdered for selling loose cigarettes. Let that sink in.
If you're more outraged over the looting of property than the constant murders of American citizens at the hands of law enforcement, then this issue might not ever see the end of its vicious cycle.