Black Lives Matter

Who was Adamou Diallo? Before Black Lives Matter formed into what it is today, Diallo, an immigrant to the United States from New Guinea, was shot dead at 23 years old in 1999. His death was caused by 41 bullet wounds inflicted by four officers who mistook his identity. All officers faced no charges.

Who was Sean Bell? In 2006, the night before his wedding, Bell was shot by five officers. He was 23 years old. Only three of the five officers went to trial, but all were acquitted of charges.

Who was DeAunta Terrel Farrow? At 12 years old, he was shot by police while holding a toy gun. Claiming he didn’t know the weapon was fake, the officer faced no indictment.

Despite these events, the years of 1999 and 2011 marked a time in which 2,151 white people were killed by police officers. In spite of the outrage seen through the media, only 1,130 black people faced the same death.

The previous statement would make it seem as though there isn’t a race problem in the United States, or there may even be a case against white people. Looking deeper, it’s notable the 63 percent of the male population is white while only 12 percent is black. Considering the first statistic with a relative mindset, a black male is three-and-a-half times more likely to be shot by a cop.

Among black men from ages 15 to 34 homicide is the leading cause of death, contributing to nearly 50 percent of deaths between 15 and 29 and 30 percent from 30 to 34. Ranked following health issues is legal intervention. One percent of deaths in the black population of young men can be accounted to law enforcement.

Among the white male population, homicide rates have never risen above 8.5 percent. Legal intervention ranks only as the tenth leading cause of death at below .4 percent among individuals ages 20 to 24.

Putting the obvious issue in the legal system aside, the biggest problem would seem to be civilian violent crime. Of all the black people killed by homicide, 90 percent fall at the hands of another black individual. It can’t be oversighted, though, that nearly 85 percent of white homicides are committed by white people.

Many people know black people in the United States are ten times more likely to be arrested than white people are. Within those charges, black people face felony charges three-and-a-half times more than white people. The argument that black people simply commit more crimes, particularly violent ones, than white people could potentially hold up, just not ethically.

Ethnic minorities, such as black people, make up the majority of urban communities, all of which are much more heavily policed than suburban or rural areas. This idea immediately creates a susceptibility for black people to be arrested. For example, although white people and black people are said to use marijuana at fairly similar rates, black people are over four times more likely to face prison time for doing so.

When speaking of increasing police brutality across race lines, it’s also hard to take only killings into account. It is hard to find accurate statistics of killings by police. Local law enforcement practices are not obliged to report killings in the line of duty. Federal reports may leave out any killings involving federal officers. If an officer shoots someone outside of his patrol area, the death doesn’t have to be counted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also reported virtually no killings in a few of the U.S.’s most populous states: New York, Florida and Illinois.

The lack of statistical reports doesn’t discourage the newfound equality movements. Black Lives Matter is one of the most powerful movements of the past few years and has now picked up some speed and a large crowd since the increase of media attention towards cop killings of young black people.

When one black individual kills another, the perpetrator goes to jail for life. In some circumstances, a white officer can kill a black civilian with a dozen or so witnesses and face no more punishment than paid leave.

The terms “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” are not seperate, mutually exclusive things. The only reason for the specification of black lives is because society has shown itdoesn’t agree.

This isn’t a new thing. In the 1950s and ‘60s, the civil rights movement took off with marches of all sorts, peaceful, violent, large and small, with similar aims — full legal and societal equality. In the ‘70s, individuals of lower socioeconomic status and their sympathizers took to the streets to support equality in education. In the ‘80s, protesters were killed during race riots in Miami. In the ‘90s, quite a bit of Los Angeles lit up after the Rodney King beating. In the early 2000s, protestors marched, fought and sat against injustice in the legal system.

Now, in the 2010s, history is repeating itself because the aim of the original has yet to be obtained. Black Lives Matter wasn’t big until recently. As a movement, it was not and is not instituted to insinuate white lives, Hispanic lives, Native American lives or cop lives don’t matter. The backing of the movement is that although all lives do matter, all aren’t treated as though they do.

Published: Eagle Eye. Volume 15, Issue 1. Pages 10 & 11. October 2015.