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If Oscar Grant had been white, odds are he would be alive.

If Oscar Grant had been white and dead and shot in the back by law enforcement, odds are the verdict would have come closer to a sembalance of justice

But he wasn't and it didn't and so it goes on. Another day, another death, another crossing of that thin blue line that divides justice black and white.


Oscar Grant, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Anthony Baez, Jason Gomez, Frank Lobato, Ismael Mena...

And how many more?

And names that i knew -- Tycel Nelson, Lawrence Miles, Fong Lee, Jason Shaboya...

And how many more?

While local state and Federal law enforcement agencies keep absolutely accurate records of the number of police officers killed or assaulted in the line of duty (typically less than 60 killed per year), there is no comparable systematic accounting of the number of citizens killed by police each year.

This data is not nationally gathered or reported, The task is left to individual researchers to cobble together local and state - level data (much of which has removed racical identifiers) and report what policce only seem to be concerned about in light of potential litigation,

Anywhere from 350 to 400 civilians are killed by police each year -- an average of one per day. This number is certainly an undercount since it is based on police shootings and does not include deaths by choke-holds, hog-ties, tasers, reactions to chemial sprays or injuries sustained in beatings.

And those killed by police are disproportionately black and brown. A variety of studies have found consistent racial disparities in police shootings -

Since the 1970s, sociologists and political scientists have consistently found that minority suspects in the United States face lethal force from police officers at a disproportionate rate.According to 2001 figures from the Department of Justice, black suspects were five times more likely to be shot and killed by officers than white suspects.

A 2007 study conduted by ColorLines and The Chicago Reporter examined police shootings in the 10 largest U.S cities. The findings were sadly predictable..

African Americans were overrepresented among police shooting victims in every city the publications investigated.The contrast was particularly noticeable in New York, San Diego and Las Vegas. In each of these cities, the percentage of black people killed by police was at least double that of their share of the city’s total population....

A second significant point: Latinos are a rising number of fatal police shooting victims.Starting in 2001, the number of incidents in which Latinos were killed by police in cities with more than 250,000 people rose four consecutive years, from 19 in 2001 to 26 in 2005. The problem was exceptionally acute in Phoenix, which had the highest number of Latinos killed in the country.

And, a growing body of research indicates that these shootings are at least partly explained by unconscious bias and the the "implict association" of blacks in particular with violence.

In short fear of black people - due in part to relentless stereotyping of young black and brown men as "dangerously violent criminals". - proves to be fatal.

Adam Serwer sums it up-

"...the radioactive fear of black people, black men in particular, has proven to have a longer half-life than any science could have discerned. This is not a fear white people possess of black people--it is a fear all Americans possess. It makes white cops kill black cops, it makes black cops kill black men, and it whispers in the ears of white and nonwhite jurors alike that fear of an unarmed black man lying face down in the ground is not "unreasonable." All of which is to say, while it infects all of us, a few of us bear the brunt of the suffering it causes...

America remains in the thrall of this ever-present fear, even in the aftermath of the Mehserle trial, as the media concerns itself not with the verdict or with justice but with the potential for more violence from the black community in Oakland. Fear is always the enemy of justice. Today in America, the former threatens the latter like never before."

More than 40 years ago, communitites of color organized themselves in the City of Oakland, organized in the City of Minneapolis, organized in New York and Chicago and said ENOUGH!


How long before we stand in outrage and say again ENOUGH? How long before we cast off our fears and fight for justice? How long we before we say NO MORE?

Originally posted to Abolition! on Fri Jul 09, 2010 at 09:07 AM PDT.

Also republished by White Privilege Working Group.

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