Fact: Police Kill Black Boys 21 Times More Often Than White Boys

vonderrit-myers-st-louisBut “we” already knew that, right? This is the social narrative we (in the black community) have been attempting to bring awareness to – usually with little to no success. And, with another senseless killing of a black teen by a white police officer in Missouri last week, perhaps folks outside of our community will start to listen. Or at least one can dream.

VonDerrit Myers, 18, was killed on October 8th by an off-duty police officer who claimed to be executing a lawful “pedestrian check” in Shaw, MO. According to family and friends of Myers, the officer never properly identified himself. They report eating their snacks they had just purchased from a local convenience store when they were confronted. According to reports, Myers and the officer got into a physical altercation which resulted in Myers’ unfortunate death. The police department reports Myers was armed when he confronted the officer. Now, police are reporting gun residue on Myers’ clothing and hands.

Questions still remain around the credibility of the police reports given the handling of the case of Darren Wilson in the August killing Mike Brown – less than 20 miles from the Shaw neighborhood where Myers was killed. To add, conflicting stories have come out of St. Louis. Meanwhile, the organizers of #FergusonOctober have mobilized in support of Myers’ family.

Mike Brown, Jonathan Ferrell, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and John Crawford are just a few men and teens who were killed by police officers. This kind of state violence is sometimes called “random” by whites seeking justification for the unequal brutality. They claim that these murders could happen to anyone. Sadly though, that just isn’t true.

ProPublica released a report last week detailing the police violence against black boys.

“Young black males in recent years were at a far greater risk of being shot dead by police than their white counterparts – 21 times greater.”

The report went on.

“The 1,217 deadly police shootings from 2010 to 2012 captured in the federal data show that blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.”

What was most troubling about the report’s findings though was the inconsistencies in the data across the country. The report found that many police departments don’t file fatal police shooting reports at all. And, when the reports are completed, they may be flawed. These facts alone shine light on the distrust many in these communities have toward these police units.

How this information is received still remains to be seen. It seems many whites still see the issue of heinous police brutality against black boys as an issue which lies squarely with the blacks. When a St. Louis symphony was interrupted this month issuing a tribute called “Requiem for Mike Brown,” white audience members had mixed responses. From support to outright cussing anger, the last thing some of them wanted to hear was the chants “Black lives matter!” while enjoying their leisurely evening. In response, some of the audience members called the deceased Brown a “criminal” and a “thug.” Some audience members even booed the protesters. St. Louis Cardinals fans responded to protesters by cheering “Let’s go Darren!” in support of Mike Brown’s killer who still has not been arrested or indicted two months after Brown’s death.

Suffice it to say, white America shows no signs of accepting or valuing these recent findings. Some will say, “well, maybe black men and boys should stop being criminals and thugs. Maybe they should pick up their pants and wear suits and ties.” But, the truth is respectability won’t fix this. Being more palatable won’t make black men and boys less like to be victims of police brutality. Just ask Cornel West who was arrested this week while protesting in Ferguson.

The fact remains: black boys are at much greater risk for police violence than white boys. Will white America listen? I’m not sure. And, instead of waiting on them to come around, we might be best served by joining West on the front lines.

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Jenn M. Jackson

Jenn M. Jackson, PhD is a co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Water Cooler Convos. She is a native of Oakland, CA. Jenn is a radical Black feminist scholar who believes none of us are free until all of us are free.

3 Responses

  1. Guest says:

    Cornel West was trying to get arrested in Ferguson. From http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/ferguson-october: “Addressing a rally the night before the demonstration, Cornel West, the writer and academic, remarked that he “did not come here to give speeches.” He came there, he said, to be arrested.”

    I’m not commenting about the article generally, just a (slightly false) circumstance mentioned in passing as supporting evidence of the thesis.

  2. Actually, the supporting evidence isn’t false at all. There are plenty of white males who commit actual crimes and don’t get arrested. Darren Wilson ring any bells? George Zimmerman was only arrested after the public demanded it. John Crawford’s murderers have not been arrested. Vonderrit’s murderer is still free.

    There are many instances where whites (civilians and state officers) commit crimes, behave badly, or act in ways which appear as though they are “trying to get arrested” and they still don’t. So, you can try to attack my argument by derailing and focusing on semantics but you are completely wrong.

  3. Tn Rural Carrier says:

    I’m sure it couldn’t be young black men committing more of the crimes, thus being arrested and shot more. Just wondering. Everyone knows that all whites are out hunting down blacks on a daily basis. It’s a sport in the south now like deer hunting, only there is no closed seasons, it’s open year round. All we white people think about is killing blacks, nothing else.

    We can all hope that someday whites will be as loving, understanding, and compassionate as our black counterparts, and the world will be a crime free place to live.