Have you noticed something? Every time a black man is shot by the police, someone is there with a camera. News of the shooting, often greatly distorted and inflammatory, goes viral. Smart police start gearing up for riots. The story is reported on immediately, by every media outlet. Some are more objective than others, but all run with the story. Many of these men are elevated as heroic symbols. But not everyone who gets shot by policy is black. A lot of people shot by police are white. In fact, more white people are shot then black people. The facts are not really disputed..
Number of people show by police: https://medium.com/retention/police-kill-more-whites-than-blacks-is-true-and-it-isnt-55102f5206b3
White: 457 (2017) | 399 (2018) | 370 (2019) | 172 (2020*)
Black: 223 (2017) | 209 (2018) | 235 (2019) | 88 (2020*)
Now many will argue that this is unfair, because 60.4% of people are white and 13.4% are black. This shows that the odds of an individual black man getting shot by police is much higher than the odds of an individual white man getting shot by police. That is obviously true. I will not get into other statistics showing that black men are also more likely to commit a felony. That is not the point. That is a topic for another occasion. The point is that white men are getting shot by police and you probably know nothing about any of these shootings. That is because when a white man gets shot by the police, there are no cameras, there are no protests, there are no riots.
The argument is that black men are treated differently than white men when confronted by police. But we can’t know if that is true because we don’t know how white men are treated. We know what happened to George Floyd. But we don’t know what would happened to a white guy who got tanked up on alcohol, methamphetamines and cocaine and was found sitting in a car obviously planning on driving away. We don’t know what happens when that white man decides to resist arrest and gets in a fight with police. Perhaps they are treated differently than black men, but we don’t know that because no one is covering these deaths. We know nothing about these men. They are invisible. No one is protesting on their behalf. No one even knows their name. They are often no more than a statistic
Most black men do not have criminal records, if they have an encounter with police they usually cooperate, and no one gets shot. Perhaps police stop them more often, because they are black, but I have not seen any reports of these people getting shot. Angry, embarrassed, disgusted; yet. Shot, no.
If we are to fix this, we need to have facts. If we want to address racism and police brutality, this requires a comparison with how people with criminal records, of different races, are treated when arrested by police, If anyone has ever watched police reality shows, like PD Online or the Sheriffs of El Dorado County, one quickly realizes that arresting criminals, regardless of race, can be a dangerous and challenging situation for the police. Most of the people arrested in Sheriffs of El Dorado County are white. But that does not mean they don’t challenge police and it sure doesn’t mean police don’t realize they are a threat.
We should demand equal coverage when an unarmed white guy is shot by police. We need to tell the story of white men shot by cops too. Then an only then can we determine whether the actions of police are truly based on race. We also need to point out something obvious. Almost every shooting is the result of people resisting arrest. Yes, we need to train police how to deal with people. But perhaps, we need to train people how to deal with police. If this man had cooperated with police, he almost certainly would not have been shot. The same is true of George Floyd. Blaming everything on police is obviously popular, but will not necessarily fix the problem.
In the meantime, I think we would all benefit from a missing man formation. The missing man being white men shot by police. At a minimum we need to understand what happens to them too. We need to learn from those stories.