Published On: Mon, Oct 17th, 2016

FBI Director: We Don’t Know if There’s an Epidemic of Police Violence Against African Americans

FBI Director: We Don’t Know if There’s an Epidemic of Police Violence Against African Americans

Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | Media Spokesperson, HEALTH MAX Group

James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), spoke to the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) over the weekend, explaining that “Americans actually have no idea” how many black men and boys are shot by police officers because there is a lack of reporting on the part of law enforcement.

Comey said: “It is a narrative that has formed, in the absence of good information and in the absence of actual data, and it is this: Biased police are killing black men at epidemic rates. That is the narrative. It is a narrative driven by video images of real misconduct, possible misconduct, and perceived misconduct.”

The FBI director chastised cops for neglecting to provide comprehensive data on use-of-force incidents which fuels the perception by Americans that videos of police brutality seen “over and over again” are indicative of “proof of nationwide police brutality”.

Comey said: “In a nation of almost a million law enforcement officers and tens of millions of police encounters each year, a small group of videos serve as proof of an epidemic.”

According to Comey, this “narrative that policing is biased and violent and unfair” is a threat to law enforcement’s ability to react to criminality properly. He acknowledged that “there are bad cops” but dismissed this as people just being inherently “flawed”.

Comey added that the American public has “no idea whether the number of black people or brown people or white people being shot by police” because of incomplete data provided by police departments. With “10.7 million arrests in this country last year, and many times that number of encounters between officers and civilians… how many people were shot? What did they look like? What were the circumstances? Is deadly force use trending up or down? Where is it worst and where is it best? Nobody knows.”

In contrast to Comey’s comments, police brutality in connection with racism targeting minorities in communities like Chicago were highlighted in a 2015 report produced by the Black Youth Project (BYP) at the Study of Race, Politics and Culture (SRPC) at the University of Chicago (UC).

The authors of the report explained that this data “reflects our commitment to knowledge, voice and action. We create knowledge by detailing the real life experiences of young Black people and identifying how these experiences distinguish them from their peers. We help amplify their voices by providing platforms and opportunities for young people to weigh in on the issues most important to them. We hope the data and findings in this report will contribute to a call to action to bring about change rooted in the ways Black millennials experience contemporary America.”

When it comes to policing, gun ownership, and the legal system at large, there are different temperaments with regard to race because of how they are treated.

According to the BYP report, 71% of African American millennials still believe that police are there to protect them.

And yet, 22% of black youth say they know someone who was the victim of gun violence within the last 12 months.

When it comes to being arrested, 38% of millennials in general agree that African Americans are not fairly treated by the American legal system.

Perhaps not surprisingly, 26.8% of black millennials view the US legal system as fair for all races; however there is still a sense that change through politics will provide the solution.

When 71% of black youth look to participation in politics as a pathway to change, it may not be such a far off concept.

Independent analysis based on years of research revealed that by 2007 fatal shootings committed by police were “disproportionately” higher for black Americans.

And going forward one year, a 1/3rd of the 37 people killed by police in Oakland, California, from 2004 to 2008 were African American.

On the east coast, the New York Police Department (NYPD) killed more black residents between 2000 and 2011 than Caucasians or Hispanics.

Another shocking statistic shows: “Between 2003 and 2009, the DOJ reported that 4,813 people died while in the process of arrest or in the custody of law enforcement.”

In fact, 7 years ago, the DoJ’s Police Public Contact Survey (PPCS) pointed out that “of those who felt that police had used or threatened them with force that year, about 74 percent felt those actions were excessive.”

Susanne Posel

Susanne Posel

Chief Editor | Investigative Journalist