BLACK DEATH

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Black people account for 13 percent of the US population, and 14 percent of drug users. Yet, 37 percent of those arrested for drug consumption and sale crimes are black. A commission of the US Congress, established in 2010 that, on average, American blacks are sentenced to 10 percent longer terms than whites. African-American men born in 2001 (data of the Department of Justice) have 32 per cent of chance of getting imprisoned during their lifetime (against 6 percent of whites). One thing strikes above all: 80 percent of those arrested for controls in New York City are black or Hispanics. Moreover, since the beginning of 2016, 215 African Americans have been killed by police.

We need to start from these data to understand the outbreaks of violence, attacks on the police, and all the riots underway in many American cities. These numbers cannot be an explanation of widespread racism on its own, but, we cannot ignore and an alarm bell that sounds louder and louder.

The riots in Charlotte, caused by two cases of African Americans who had been killed by the security forces, one right in the city of North Carolina and another in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is only the last link in a chain of anger that is ready to burst out. Just before the presidential election and at a moment in the history of US when the president is black.

Why? Mapping Police Violence, a group of American researchers who collects and processes data on cases of African American citizens killed by the police in the United States tries to explain it.

In 2015, 30 percent of African Americans killed by police were unarmed, against 19 percent of whites. In 2016, less than a third of African Americans killed by police were suspected of violent crimes and was considered armed (31 percent). In 2015, in 97% of cases, no agent was indicted. A slap – according to the black and Hispanic communities – in the face of justice.

In some of the largest police departments in American cities, in 2015 all the people killed by police were African Americans: in St. Louis and in Kansas City, Missouri; in Atlanta, Georgia; in Cleveland, Ohio; in Baltimore, Maryland; in Virginia Beach, Virginia; in Boston, Massachusetts; and in Washington.

Whereas some people have pointed their finger at the levels of violent crime, which they regard to be at the root of police violence in some communities. With data at hand, we can see that high levels of violent crimes in a given city does not seem to have any repercussion on the chances of its police departments to kill people,” reads an NGO report. “In the last few years, the police departments of some cities with a high crime rate, such as Detroit and Newark, have killed a significantly lower number in proportion to the population than in other cities with much lower rates, such as Austin (Texas), Bakersfield (California), Long Beach (Long Beach),” he continues. “Rather than being determined by crime rates, police violence reflects a tendency to impunity reflects in our culture, policies, and the institutions that regulate political practices,” says the NGO.

The case that brought to the fore the different treatment of African Americans, the black 17 year old killed in Florida on February 26, 2012, is under everyone’s eyes. The boy was walking with the hood of his sweatshirt on his head, which was a suspicious attitude according to George Zimmerman, a local volunteer vigilante. A fight broke out between the two of them and at some point Zimmerman shot the teenagers point-blank. This killing sparked demonstrations across the country with thousands of protests, which were resumed the following year, after the acquittal of the vigilante. Over four years passed, but nothing changed.

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