American Cops Killed 1,261 People in 2023
Are we okay with this?
I grew up believing cops existed to serve and protect vulnerable people.
And this is absolutely sometimes true.
I know a cop who once smashed a wife-beater through a dining room table because the raging criminal had broken open a glass perfume bottle and rammed it up his girlfriend’s vagina.
Abolish the cops?
No thank you.
Want a country without cops? Move to gang-run Haiti.
But are cops perfect?
They’re a hot mess.
They work way too long hours in a constant state of fight-or-flight, dealing with the darkest and most evil elements of society, leading to the highest suicide risk of any profession.
They need counselors and psychotherapists and sabbaticals on the regular.
And far too often, they’re used by the corporatocracy to “serve and protect” the interest of the moneyed elite. Law enforcement, like the law itself, is controlled by the rich for the protection of their property.
But perhaps the saddest truth about cops is that they kill an awful lot of innocent people:
In total, American cops killed 1,124 people in 2023. That’s more than last year, and the year before that — we’re clearly not making progress here. In fact, there were only fourteen days last year when cops didn’t end someone’s life.
Black people are 2.9X more likely to be killed by cops than white people, despite the fact that they’re 1.3Xs more likely to be unarmed. Chicago, Minneapolis, and Boston are particularly bad, where they kill blacks at 25+X the rate of whites.
Even more troubling? 69% of these killings didn’t start with an alleged violent crime. They started with traffic violations, mental health checks, minor disturbances, and bafflingly, no offense alleged.
The stats are deeply troubling — one-third of victims were shot in the back while fleeing. Rather than simply finding them later at known addresses or via CCTV, they were simply hunted down.
Unsurprisingly, states with more permissive gun laws have more police killings.
And don’t think police violence is a city thing. 47% takes place in suburbia and 27% takes place in rural zip codes.
Despite the fact that cops have gunned down more than 10,000 people in the past decade, 98.1% of the killers have not been charged.
So what should we do about cops killing people?
We should re-introduce unarmed community policing (AKA “beat cops.)
We should hire more women.
We should invest heavily in de-escalation.
We should re-organize schedules into eight-hour shifts.
We should invest in counseling, therapy, and sabbaticals.
We should root out the legit racists.
We should have a zero-tolerance policy toward shooting runners in the back. Our surveillance state will find them sooner or later.
We should stop cops from siding with corporations against unions and justice marches.
We should prosecute cops who murder people.
There are plenty of other things we could do, but this is just the start.
At the end of the day, crime isn’t a root problem, it’s overwhelmingly a symptom of poverty and family breakdown. We need to invest in prevention.
Want cops to stop murdering 1,200+ people every year? Get rid of poverty.
Force corporations to pay legitimately living wages.
Ban for-profit land-lording and bankster interest.
Introduce a wealth tax on the hyper-rich and a land value tax, then get rid of income tax and property tax and sales taxes for the bottom 99%.
Legalize weed and let millions of dads out of jail so they can father their sons.
Adam Smith said capitalism is all about incentives. Right now, the profits from gun sales and private prisons and the militarized security apparatus ensure we continue to live in a hyper-violent police state.
But you and I know the truth:
Crime won’t stop until poverty is eliminated, and cops won’t stop killing people until crime is eliminated.
And neither crime nor poverty will be eliminated until the masses stop voting for right-wing corporatist parties like the Democrats and the Republicans, and stop doing the majority of their shopping with the corporations who sponsor both parties.
This isn’t a Catch-22, the average person just couldn’t be bothered to think.
As it stands, police killings are yet another entry in a long list of preventable national tragedies — one that the history books will record so our descendants can scratch their heads in bewilderment at how easily we were duped.
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