Police brutality: a thousand deaths a year and hardly any consequences | Free press

New York (AP) – Desperate people face microphones and television cameras. They cry, they are furious, they mourn the death of their partners, children and cousins ​​with broken voices.

The photos of families and friends whose relatives and old companions have been murdered by police officers are a sad everyday life in the US. According to consistent counts from various initiatives, the US police kill about 1,000 people on duty every year. It’s a bloody list that never stops, getting longer and longer every day.

As heartbreaking as individual fates are, they rarely make headlines – or at least are quickly forgotten. Unlike George Floyd’s. The trial is currently underway for the ex-police officer who blamed the 46-year-old black man. On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes during a brutal arrest, despite the victim’s pleas and outraged protests from nearby eyewitnesses. An hour later he was pronounced dead in the hospital. Photographs of the deed went around the world, “Black Lives Matter” protests of unprecedented magnitude rose around the world, denouncing police brutality and racism.

Chauvin’s trial has been running since March 29 and the closing arguments begin Monday. Even after the trial began, an average of three people were killed by police officers on duty every day, according to the New York Times.

During the trial, which was broadcast live on American television for days, the recordings from the courtroom were interrupted by reports about the fate of Daunte Wright. The 20-year-old black died on April 11, just 9 miles from the Minneapolis courtroom where the Floyd trial is taking place. The policewoman who shot Wright claims she wanted to get her taser but accidentally pulled out the gun. This claim does not only seem questionable to the next of kin. Wright’s aunt told a news conference that her cousin was once a teacher with a former partner of George Floyd.

The next disturbing video followed Thursday, this time it was footage of the Copa police in Chicago. Shortly before his death, you can see another victim, this time a teenager, only 13 years old. It is not clear from the shaky footage whether the young Latino named Adam Toledo himself had a gun in his hand at the time of the fatal police shooting.

Toledo’s case is dismayed and angered not only because of his young age, but because another member of a minority in the United States was the victim. The accusation: the American police give themselves over en masse to racially motivated excesses, do not look at whites as well and take up arms less often than against African Americans, for example. According to counts from the civil rights initiative “Mapping Police Violence,” about 28 percent of the people killed by police officers in 2020 were black, although this group makes up only 13 percent of the population. In the journal “PNAS”, crime researchers calculated in 2019 that statistically one in 1,000 male American blacks would ever be murdered by police officers.

A count by the Washington Post found a total of 982 deaths from police shots last year. Since the newspaper began a reappraisal in 2016, there have been a similar number of police casualties per year. And it seems to continue unabated: According to “Mapping Police Violence”, more than 300 people were killed by police brutality in 2021. There are no significant ramifications from the George Floyd case.

Many people’s despair is also growing because they complain about the lack of treatment of many cases. It is an absolute rarity that someone like Derek Chauvin should go to court at all. Bowling Green State University researcher Philip Stinson has been tracking how many police officers have been charged since 2005, according to Vox’s news site. On average, it only works out at around nine costs per year. Even fewer of them are convicted. The officers can rely on a variety of reasons for using force and often enjoy a leap of faith before juries and judges because of their profession.

The voices trying to change the situation in US law enforcement are getting louder, moving away from ever tougher law enforcement agencies, to more balanced training and greater deployment of social workers coming from affected problem areas themselves. But many of the reform efforts to date have failed. Politicians in particular among Republican voters are quickly suspected of not cracking down on crime when they argue for budget cuts for homeland security.

The budgets are huge, many police stations have been upgraded in recent years from military-style weaponry to war rifles and tanks. New York City alone spends about $ 5 billion annually on the NYPD police – in the global ranking of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute Sipri on state defense spending, this would result in a place in the top 40, ahead of countries like Austria. , Argentina and Hungary.

The movement must now at least get into the reform debate over a rule particularly criticized by activists: “Qualified immunity”. This “conditional immunity” creates serious obstacles before police officers can even be charged. Thanks to her, officials can argue, among other things, that the use of force was justified. The US House of Representatives, dominated by the Democrats, passed a reform in early March that would largely close this loophole and ease the charges. In the Senate, some Republicans could block the changes. And in view of the past and their supporters, it cannot be ruled out that they will do the same. In any case, the reform would come too late for the bereaved, who mourned every day on American television.

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