Wednesday, January 4, 2017
US police killed more than 1,150 in 2016
By Gabriel Black
At least 1,152 people were killed by police in the United States in 2016 according to the tracking site killedbypolice.net. While the total number of killings documented is slightly down from 2015’s total of 1,208, police continued to kill at the rate of three people every day.
The number of people killed by police every year in the United States far dwarfs those killed by police in every other major advanced capitalist country. In 2015, for example, US cops killed 100 times more people than German police, despite the US having only about four times Germany’s population. Meanwhile in the UK only 14 people were killed by police in 2014.
Paul Hirschfield, a sociologist at Rutgers University, found that the US police shot and killed at a ratio of 3.42 people per million inhabitants per year. In contrast, Denmark had a ratio of 0.187; France, 0.17; Sweden, 0.133; Portugal, 0.125; Germany, 0.09; Norway, 0.06; Netherlands, 0.06; Finland, 0.034; and England and Wales, 0.016.
The overwhelming and often deadly violence meted out by American police is, among other things, an expression of the brutal and tense state of class relations in the US. Large sections of the working class live in or near poverty with basic needs like clean water, nutritious food, a job, healthcare, a good place to live and an education beyond reach.
The state, in turn, has responded with brute force, cutting access to basic social services and spending billions of dollars upgrading and militarizing the nation’s police force. This has included the mobilization of the National Guard and the imposition of states of emergencies to quell protests against police violence in recent years.
The United States is a country where fraud, bribery, deception and outright theft, all on a massive scale, are standard business practices for the major banks and corporations. Meanwhile the working class is held to an entirely different standard, in which execution without trial by a police officer is an increasingly common punishment for the smallest of misdemeanors.
The end of the year is an opportunity to assess this mass loss of life and clarify the political issues at stake in this state sanctioned murder.
According to the Washington Post, which runs its own database on the amount of people shot and killed by police (not just killed), 24 percent of the victims of police shootings and killings were black in 2016. That is 232 people out of 957 total shot and killed. In 2016 African Americans were shot at a rate double their percentage share of the total population.
While the media discussion around police killings and the protests by the Black Lives Matter organization has focused on the disproportionate rate at which blacks are killed by police, the largest share, 48 percent, are white.
As the World Socialist Web S ite has emphasized, “Blacks are killed by police at a much higher rate than their proportion in the population, an indication that racism plays a significant role, but the number of white victims demonstrates that class, not race, is the more fundamental issue.”
The exclusive focus on race by the pseudo left and the Democratic Party establishment conceals the most fundamental issue, that of class.
While the Post does not track the class of those killed going through each killing, though, case-by-case, one would be hard pressed to find people from the upper classes, let alone better off sections of workers and professionals, regardless of the color of their skin. Those who are killed are often from the lowest sections of the working class, and often its most vulnerable layers: the unemployed, the mentally ill, those living in the poorest neighborhoods, both rural and urban, and the homeless.
For example, of the 957 killed, 240 had clear discernible signs of mental illness—that is, 25 percent of the victims.
Of the victims, 441 were not armed with a gun, 46 percent of those killed. One-hundred seventy people were armed with a knife. And, 44 had a toy weapon of some kind. Forty-seven were neither armed nor driving a car in a way the police deemed dangerous.
Sixty-five were driving cars, causing the police to categorize the vehicle as a weapon. However, in many instances there is no evidence to show that a vehicle acted as a weapon. For example, Christian Redwine, a 17-year-old white male, was shot after a car-chase in which Redwine crashed. He was unarmed and was suspected of stealing the vehicle.
Another notable fact is that 329 of the victims were fleeing, about 34 percent of the victims.
These cumulative statistics show the willingness of police to quickly kill people who pose little to no threat to them.
Police killings should be considered in the broader context of punishment for the most vulnerable and impoverished. In the United States, over 2 million people are in federal or state prisons. Furthermore, 4.75 million are on probation or parole. This means that about 7 million people, 3 percent of the adult population, have been or are in prison.
As in the case of police killings, many of these people have been locked up for shoplifting, grand theft auto and robbery. Many others are incarcerated for drug possession and use.
While millions of destitute and hopeless people in the US are brutally punished for relatively minor infractions, the real criminals, those in the Bush and Obama administrations responsible for wars of aggression that have cost the lives of hundreds of thousands in the Middle East, as well as the bankers who crashed the economy in 2008, have reaped the benefits of their much more serious crimes.
No amount of police training, community engagement or racial bias classes will end police killings. The deaths are borne out of much more fundamental political and economic realities than what this or that police officer feels and thinks. In 2017, amidst a worsening political and economic crisis, the state will be even more ready to kill, harass and imprison the poorest section of the population.
AMERICA: One paycheck and two illegals away from homelessness.
"The economists found that the pre-tax share of national income received by the bottom half of the US population has been cut nearly in half since 1980, from 20 percent to 12 percent, while the income share of the top one percent has nearly doubled, from 12 percent to 20 percent."
SOARING POVERTY IN AMERICA’S OPEN
TRUMPERNOMICS FOR THE SUPER RICH:
“In the US, the working class will confront a government unlike any other in American history, which will continue and intensify a decades-long social counterrevolution overseen by the Democrats and Republicans. The incoming Trump administration is manned by billionaires, generals and arch reactionaries. It is a government of, by and for the oligarchy, committed to destroying every remaining gain won by workers over the past century.”
January 4, 2017
President Obama will give his farewell and good riddance speech on January 10 in Chicago, the town where the community organizer-in-chief began his political rise. He will attempt once again to cement his legacy by recreating history in his image. He will make his speech against the background of what is arguably the world’s most beautiful skyline and the world’s most hideous violence.
Chicago, one of the toughest gun control cities in the United States, ended 2016 with 762 homicides, the most in two decades and more than Los Angeles and New York City combined. While President Obama has addressed every mass shooting as another reason for stricter gun control, he has little to say about the carnage in his hometown, and it is not likely he will address it in his self-serving and narcissistic farewell speech. President-elect Donald Trump has, tweeting on Monday night. "Chicago murder rate is record setting -- 4,331 shooting victims with 762 murders in 2016,” Trump tweeted. “If Mayor can't do it he must ask for Federal help!”
Chicago does indeed need federal help, particularly in the area of federal prosecution of gun crimes. As Investor’s Business Daily has noted, a recent study showed that despite rising murders and gang violence, Chicago ranked dead last in federal gun crime prosecutions:
A murdered Chicago teen's mother attends the president's speech on gun control, not knowing federal gun-crime prosecutions have in fact dropped on his watch — with the Windy City bringing up the rear.
Cleopatra Cowley-Pendleton, the mother of murdered 15-year-old Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton, was one of 20 mothers who lost children to criminal violence who were at the White House last Thursday to hear President Obama speak once again on the need for gun control.
Obama met with her and some of the others in a small group before his formal remarks and told them "how serious this issue really is and something needs to be done about it," she said.
But President Obama did not tell this group that Syracuse University's Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) shows that the Northern Illinois district ranked 90th out of 90 in prosecutions of federal weapons crimes per capita.
David Burnham, co-director of TRAC, states their analysis says that according to case-by-case U.S. Justice Department information obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, there were 52 federal gun prosecutions in Illinois North (Chicago) in 2012, or 5.52 per million in population.
By this measure, compared with the 90 federal judicial districts in the U.S., the prosecution rate in Chicago was the lowest in the country.
If President Obama had a son, he might have looked like Amari Brown, the little boy killed by a bullet intended for his gang-banger father on the streets of President Obama’s Chicago in yet another bloody Windy City weekend. As theChicago Tribune reported, over the Fourth of July weekend in 2015, Amari Brown was one of the ten that were killed among 55 that were shot.:
Among those killed was 7-year-old Amari Brown, shot in the chest as he watched fireworks near his father's home in Humboldt Park late Saturday night. Police say they believe the attack was aimed at the father, whom they described as a ranking gang member.
Former Chicago Police Superintendant Garry McCarthy got it right when he observed that Amari Brown was another victim, not of police racism, but of gang violence and a revolving door justice system:
Antonio Brown, who police say is a ranking member of the Four Corner Hustlers street gang, has been arrested 45 times on charges ranging from gun possession to burglary, and is not cooperating with detectives in their investigation into the slaying of his son, Amari Brown, police said.
McCarthy said that the elder Brown's last arrest was in April for gun possession after leading police on a vehicle pursuit. Brown was later released on bail in that case, Cook County court records show.
"If Mr. Brown is in custody, his son is alive," McCarthy, flanked by several police officials and other officers, told a room full of reporters at the Harrison District police station on the West Side on Sunday afternoon. "That's not the case. Quite frankly, he shouldn't have been on the street."
A lot of criminals shouldn’t be out on the streets, particularly those convicted of gun crimes. Many gun and gang crimes in Chicago are drug related President Obama has commuted the sentences of many drug offenders, including those who possessed a gun during the commission of their crimes:
President Obama on Thursday commuted the sentences of nearly 100 federal inmates doing hard time, and almost one in five were in jail partially because of the illegal guns they carried…
Of those who had their terms commuted this week, 19 were behind bars on a combination of drug charges that also involved firearms possession -- often multiple counts -- usually by a prohibited possessor…
The President commuted 111 federal prisoners in late August, in which a number of those with firearms charges were featured. Earlier the same month he did likewise for 214 inmates including56 with gun felonies.
Current Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson recently pleaded for stricter penalties for repeat gun offenders after a Chicago Police commander was gunned down:
Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson renewed his call on Friday for stricter penalties for gun offenders after a police commander was shot at while working on the South Side…
The violence hit close to home late Thursday when Noel Sanchez, commander of the South Chicago police district, was shot at while working the streets in the 8800 block of South Saginaw Avenue. The gunman fled to a nearby home, touching off an hourslong standoff with a SWAT team before five people were taken into custody early Friday. Multiple guns were also recovered.
Johnson cited the incident as an example of how gang members have become more emboldened, in part because of what the superintendent considers lenient penalties for gun offenses…
Johnson spoke once again in favor of proposed legislation in Springfield designed to make it harder for judges to impose light sentences for repeat gun offenders. The goal of the legislation is to ensure that they face several years in prison.
He singled out a 21-year-old man as an example of why the legislation is needed. The man was arrested in February on a felony weapons violation and sentenced to seven years in prison in April, police said. But he was assigned to boot camp and was already out on parole Aug. 22 when he was arrested again for gun possession in the West Side's Austin community.
Fear not, Superintendant Johnson. There’s a new sheriff in town and help is on the way. President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice will have your back and that of your officers. Gun offenders will be prosecuted vigorously and Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be looking to enforce the laws to put gun offenders in jail, not blaming police for their racial insensitivity.
Trump has also called for the deportation and incarceration of illegal alien criminals, including those belonging to gangs like MS-13, who come into the U.S. across an unsecured border, many becoming gang members in our urban areas. NBC5 Chicago reported Trump’s linkage of illegal aliens and gang crimes in Chicago:
Donald Trump said he thinks a lot of “gang members” in America, particularly in Chicago, Baltimore and Ferguson, are illegal immigrants and, if he becomes president, “they’re going to be gone.”
“A lot of the gangs that you see -- it doesn’t hopefully pertain to you guys so much -- but when you look at Baltimore, when you look at Chicago and Ferguson and a lot of areas, you know a lot of these gang members are illegal immigrants,” he said during an interview with Mobile, Alabama radio station FM Talk 1065. “They’re going to be gone. We are going to get them out so fast, out of this country so fast.”
Lock them up, Donald, lock them up. Obama and Rahm Emanuel haven’t
Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared inInvestor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the ChicagoSun-Times among other publications.
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