Two Years After Massive Uprisings Against Police Murder, Police Killings Go UP… Again!
WE NEED A REVOLUTION!!
This country has had white supremacy sewn into its fabric from its beginning. Today, police are the enforcers of this ugly reality, as revealed by which people are disproportionately targeted for murder at the hands of pigs. In its Police Violence Report for 2021, MPV found that most unarmed people killed by police were people of color. Black people, compared to whites, were more likely to be killed by police, as well as more likely to be unarmed and less likely to be threatening someone when killed by cops.
Black people are 2.9 times more likely to be killed by police than white people in the U.S. overall. But especially for the inner cities where Black youth are trapped with no future but prison or death, the statistics are bone-chilling: Chicago police killed Black people at a 25 times higher rate than white people. In Boston and Minneapolis, police killed Black people at a 28 times higher rate than whites. Oppressed youth killing each other in these inner city cores is a terrible reality. But what does it say that the official enforcers of the system’s laws are murdering these youth with impunity?
Unearthing What Is Officially Kept Hidden
In the United States—a country where cops kill more than three people a day—police forces routinely keep hidden the actual, horrific extent and circumstances of their violence. In fact, estimates are that over the span of 1980-2018, more than 50 percent of police killings were never reported.1
The MPV website is the project of a group of committed researchers determined to unearth what police forces and the government refuse to reveal—the actual names of every person killed by police, and the truth about why they were killed. MPV has identified nearly every police killing, in every county, city and state, and by each of the 13,147 police forces in this country, since 2013. They have put together at their site, in an easily accessible format, the entire list of the 10,758 people who have been killed by the police since 2013. For each killing, MPV has provided essential information for those searching for the actual circumstance that led to their death at the hands of the pigs.2
The September 2022 Killing of Luis Herrera
The most recent victim of police violence in the MPV system is Luis Herrera, murdered by the LAPD. Luis was just 19 years old, a Latino youth living in South Central LA. The site provides a link to a picture of Luis so we can see his humanity. The police “justification” of the killing makes it sound cut and dried: they claim that while responding to a family dispute (the result of multiple 911 calls by Luis himself), Herrera met them outside “brandishing a weapon” and allegedly pointed it at the cops, and was shot to death.
But the facts, and the bodycam footage, tell a different story. The MPV entry has links to media coverage which shows the way the pigs' story changed once more of the truth came out. As can be seen in the police cam video, during the incident Luis's father tried to intervene and told the pigs (in Spanish) that Luis's “gun” was a toy (an airsoft gun). However, the cops ignored his plea and told him to go back inside the house, and then shot Luis to death. MPV describes Luis as unarmed—because federal law does not consider an airsoft gun a firearm—something the pigs had to know.
In Most Police Killings There Was No Imminent Danger—Until the Pigs Arrived
As revcom.us reported this August, “Not only have this country's pigs murdered over 1,000 people each year since 2015, findings based on research by Mapping Police Violence (MPV) show that nearly one-third of those killed in each of those years were running or driving away from the pigs when they were killed.” And in MPV's Police Violence Report for 2021, based on studying over 1,100 police killings, they found that 57% of killings by police in 2021—598 deaths—were traffic stops, police responses to mental health crises, or situations where the person was not reportedly threatening anyone with a gun.
Wanton Police Murder Continues
Marking the second year since the murder of George Floyd, revcom.us wrote:
...the wanton police murder and repression directed against Black people and other people of color continues unabated – indeed, the figure of murders by police in 2021 was even higher than 2020 or the several years before that. Talk of reform has been replaced by “tough on crime,” code words for stepped-up repression—often by Black mayors like Eric Adams (“The Black Giuliani”) in New York.
Despite the determination of those millions who took to the streets, and of the ongoing efforts of those like Mapping Police Violence and others, the reality is that there's been no fundamental change in the horror their work has unearthed. What does that tell you about this system—the system of capitalism-imperialism—that has brutal murderous police forces as necessary in order to ensure its “order”? It’s one more undeniable proof that this system that is the source of so much pain and horror for the people it rules over is unreformable—it needs to be overthrown, through an actual revolution.
1. “The Lancet: More than half of police killings in USA are unreported and Black Americans are most likely to experience fatal police violence,” Healthdata.org, September 30, 2021. [back]
2. MPV notes about their data: “Law enforcement agencies across the country have failed to provide us with even basic information about the lives they have taken. While the Federal government announced in 2016 that they would begin collecting data on deadly force incidents, they have proved either unwilling or unable to do so. For example, their new Use of Force Data Collection program ended up collecting data from so few law enforcement agencies that the entire program could be shut down without the data they’ve collected being made available to the public.
“We cannot wait to know the true scale of police violence against our communities. In a country where at least three people are killed by police every day, we cannot wait for police departments to provide us with these answers. The maps and charts on this site aim to provide us with insights into patterns of police violence across the country. They include information on more than 10,000 killings by police nationwide since 2013. 97 percent of the killings in our database occurred while a police officer was acting in a law enforcement capacity. Importantly, these data do not include killings by vigilantes or security guards who are not off-duty police officers.” (“About the Data”) [back]