Just recently I have seen some posts from right-wing nut-jobs (or racist fascists) declaring that according to their statistics, there isn’t an imbalance between deaths to whites by the police and deaths to blacks by the police. At least one of which looked at shootings by the police which is kind of missing the point; and leaving half of the killings out.
So I had a look at digging up some statistics myself which turned out to be somewhat more difficult than I imagined. It seems that recent data is difficult to find – not least because not all states report on these killings.
The figures I have are from 2003-2009 :-
| | Deaths in Custody | | White | 2026 | | Black | 1529 | | Hispanic| 949 | | Other | 150 | | Unknown | 159 | | Total | 4813 |
(Source: Table 3 of https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/ard0309st.pdf)
So according to these figures, more whites get killed by the police than blacks; ignoring the racial issue for the moment, why is this not a problem on its own? The UK had a high of 23 deaths in custody in 2017; multiply this by 7 to get the same number of years and you get 161 deaths in custody over the same number of years (actually an overestimate).
But the UK is so much smaller? Okay we’ll compensate for the population disparity – multiply that figure by the US population (330 million) divided by the UK population (63 million). Which comes out to multiplying out UK deaths in custody figure by about 5.2 – coming out to 843 deaths in custody compared to 4813.
So the US police kill at almost six times the rate of the British police – the US has a serious problem even before considering race.
According to Wikipedia (also the source for the population figures), 72% of the population of the USA is white and (to meet the demands of my laziness) 28% is non-white. So let us calculate what the deaths in custody figures would be if they were in proportion of the racial mix :-
| | Percentage | Proportional Deaths in Custody | Actual DiC | | White | 72% | 3465 | 2026 | | Non-white | 28% | 1348 | 2787 |
Now this is a rather simplistic analysis, but shows that the USA not only has a problem with their police using excessive force against all segments of society, but has a particular problem with anyone who isn’t white.
Now this isn’t a proper analysis – just a quick back of the envelope calculation. And there are plenty of problems with this analysis; not least is the dated nature of the figures.
But it should at least be reasonably obvious that anyone claiming there isn’t a racial bias in police killings is off their rocker or has a racist axe to grind.