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If more black people have daily interactions with police than white people, even if they are a significantly smaller demographic, then the odds of shit going wrong increase.

First, I don’t know that this is true. I’d need data that indicate such a statement is valid before I could accept it, because there are 5x more white people than black people in this country, and if cops interact with black people more than they do with white people, that would, in itself, suggest a troubling targeting of one ethnicity over another. Because, if we’re honest, people don’t randomly seek out to interact with the police, unless they are victims of a crime, rather than suspects. (and even in these circumstances, people get killed)

But if you accept that premise, now you have to ask yourself why black people interact with police more than white people, don’t you? If you’re looking at this holistically, and not making any judgments regarding the actors, you’d have to ask why one group of people has more potentially dangerous interactions than another. And since it is the police who are initiating these interactions, one would have to conclude that [a] predominately black neighborhoods are more aggressively policed than white neighborhoods of similar socioeconomic status, and/or [b] crimes involving black perpetrators are more aggressively investigated and lead to a higher incidence of interactions with potential black suspects, and/or [c] you are advocating the idea that black people are somehow more inherently violent than white people, and therefore run afoul of the law at a higher rate.

Let’s interrogate each of these ideas, to see which holds merit.

[Ed Note: All of the below can be viewed from the studies collected and articulated here: ]

Since it is impossible to know how many unreported or unsolved crimes are associated with what ethnicity, simply referring to arrest statistics do not give us the answers we seek. We need a baseline of lawless behavior, which we can then compare to arrest statistics, and extrapolate from there.

We could use the known component of marijuana use as a case study in how the various ethnicities are treated by the law. We know, through polls and research, that marijuana use is fairly consistent across the population, with black and white people alike using marijuana at approximately the same rates. And we also know that black people are 3.7x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession.

Part of the reason for this could be that predominately black neighborhoods are more aggressively policed. That isn’t the fault of the cop on the beat, but of the public officials deciding where to allocate our police resources. If predominately white neighborhoods have fewer cops, there will be fewer interactions, therefore fewer incidents of unwarranted violence.

Another factor could be more aggressive interrogation during interactions. The “Stop-and-Frisk” laws Rudy Giuliani made popular in NYC, for instance, were shown to have targeted black people at a ridiculously higher rate than white people.

So, at least part of the reason for the higher incidence of cop-on-black violence is the disproportionate policing and stopping of black citizens.

Most people that have an interaction with the police have a reason to be stopped.

This falls under the category of suspicion = guilt, which I reject. Also, the above link shows that one doesn’t have to be suspected of anything to get stopped and frisked, if one happens to be black.

Unarmed does not mean they aren’t dangerous and I think that is what you are getting at.

An unarmed citizen is a danger to whom, exactly? Firing your service weapon is supposed to be reserved for only those situations where a life is in imminent peril. Please let me know what imminent threat Jonathan Ferrell posed to the officer who put 12 bullets in him in Charlotte?

I think you believe somewhere there is a law that says that black people are fair game to kill if you are a police officer and feel threatened.

No, I don’t believe that, because it is also very rare for a police officer to be convicted if the unarmed citizen was white. I think, therefore, that the justice system is notoriously and overtly deferential to police authority in all violent interactions, and I don’t think it should be that way.

The police, after all, are virtually always armed, and are supposed to be trained in recognizing dangerous situations and in deescalation techniques. What we see in reality, however, are police officers shooting suspects out of panic, and advising citizens how to behave in order to not frighten police officers into shooting you.

This stands reason on its head. The police are supposed to be the trained professionals who know how to control and deescalate a situation that could turn violent. The idea that ordinary people must train themselves to not scare a panicky cop into shooting them is the definition of victim-blaming.

Here’s another overtly racist article, suggesting that it is perfectly natural for police to treat interactions with black people, in particular, as inherently more dangerous.

These are major news publications. Given this general conditioning of society at large, is it any wonder that interactions with black citizens disproportionately turn violent? Our mainstream media is telling police that this is what we expect.

So, no. I don’t believe that police consider all black people fair game. I do think, however, that police generally confront black citizens with a heightened sense of tension than they do white citizens, and I think the reason for that is that society, as a whole, has communicated to the police that this is how we expect them to behave. We communicate this to police every day in how we allocate their resources, and in what crimes we choose to publicize.

If race was taken out of the equation, what else could be contributing factors of the shootings? What do blacks and whites or whoever have in common that leads cops to think they are so dangerous that they need to be shot? Is there a statistic in the report that takes this into account?

This was actually one of the conclusions of the study, which I linked in my original comment, and for which I provided a pull-quote:

“The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black,” said Justin Nix, a criminal-justice researcher at the University of Louisville , said in April. “Crime variables did not matter in terms of predicting whether the person killed was unarmed.”
I take it personally because I have family that are police officers.

As do I. And I’m not making the case that police officers are uniquely racist. Far from it. I’m saying our society expects the police to treat black citizens more harshly than white citizens. And this is borne out by the facts. Let’s go back to marijuana use.

Studies prove that black citizens are more likely to get stopped than whites. And of those stopped, black citizens are more likely to get searched. And of those searched, black citizens are more likely to get arrested. And of those arrested, black citizens are more likely to be convicted, and of those convicted, black citizens are more likely to do time, and of those sentenced to prison, black people get uniformly harsher sentences.

This is a bigger issue than just cops.

That’s why I don’t think George Zimmerman was wrong. He may have started the fight, but he didn’t know if Trayvon was going to kill him or not. I would have shot him too.

This is truly a shocking justification for attacking and shooting unarmed innocent people. This logic could be used to excuse every shooting in America. “I didn’t know what he would do after I attacked him, so I shot him.”

Now, let’s apply that logic to a situation that was reversed. Would Trayvon have been justified, if he had attacked Zimmerman, and then shot him out of fear?

If that’s a legitimate rationalization, then no one is guilty of anything.

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