A Year Since Ferguson ...: What’s changed? (Updated)
Too damn little, that’s for sure.
As the Washington Post reported this weekend, unarmed black men are seven times more likely to die by police gunfire than are any other group. As the Post shows, the statistics are damning:
So far this year, 24 unarmed black men have been shot and killed by police – one every nine days, according to a Washington Post database of fatal police shootings. During a single two-week period in April, three unarmed black men were shot and killed. All three shootings were either captured on video or, in one case, broadcast live on local TV.
Those 24 cases constitute a surprisingly small fraction of the 585 people shot and killed by police through Friday evening, according to The Post database. Most of those killed were white or Hispanic, and the vast majority of victims of all races were armed.
However, black men accounted for 40 percent of the 60 unarmed deaths, even though they make up just 6 percent of the U.S. population. The Post’s analysis shows that black men were seven times more likely than white men to die by police gunfire while unarmed.
Even if Michael Brown’s death “ushered in the greatest national reckoning on racism since the beating of Rodney King,” it’s easy to conclude that despite the hashtags, breast beating, and protest movements, black lives don’t really matter.
The criminal justice system, at every phase, seems systematically stacked against African Americans.
The Republicans jockeying to be their party’s nominees for president couldn’t be bothered to talk about race in their first debate. The Democrats are little better.
The Post’s report is long, detailed, and depressing. It is well worth your time.
The last two nights in Ferguson have been tense. On Sunday night protesters clashed repeatedly with police. Bottles and rocks were thrown and shots were fired. An 18-year-old St. Louis man was in critical condition in the hospital after being shot by police who charge he had first fired on them.
Monday night a state of emergency was declared in Ferguson, and scores of police flooded the area where a year ago Michael Brown was killed. Although there was minor violence, the disturbances did not escalate, and by early this morning the situation was described as generally peaceful.
There is real question as to whether the calm will last. Adding to the concern and uncertainty is the presence of a so-called citizen militia called the Oath Keepers who have arrived on the scene openly carrying rifles on the streets. Police are wary, as are protesters. As one told the New York Times:
We don’t trust them … We don’t trust the white people with assault rifles. They didn’t bring one black person with them, and they walked up on us like they’re asserting their white privilege.
The New York Times story this morning fills in more details.