September 26, 2016

From Center for Constitutional Rights

Police are a constant lethal threat to Black Americans 

"After the killing of 193 Black Americans this year," CCR Executive Director Vince Warren told Democracy Now!, "I'm quite prepared not to believe the police department narratives of anything that happened in these investigations." He was speaking last Wednesday after the police killings of Terrence Crutcher – the Oklahoma man whose car broke down who was shot with his hands in the air – and Keith Lamont Scott – the North Carolina father reading a book waiting in his car to pick up his son from school. The number has gone up since then.

In these cases and in so many others, video and eyewitness accounts contradict police explanations and excuses.

As usual, when police provocation escalated peaceful protests in Charlotte, officials and politicians were far quicker to denounce "unrest" than the police violence people were protesting. "Black lives are so dehumanized," said Vince, "that it is OK structurally – it's OK in the context of the police department, it's OK in the context of the criminal justice system – to kill Black people."

Vince was joined by Color of Change Executive Director Rashad Robinson and Bree Newsome, the artist and activist who removed the Confederate flag from the South Carolina capital. Commenting on the fact that the police simply left Terrence Crutcher to die, Rashad said Black people, "even in their death are seen as deserving – not deserving of medical support – deserving of the situations." Earlier this year Color of Change and CCR filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking documents on the police surveillance of the Black Lives Matter movement.

"We've lost complete faith in the system because the system is designed to do the exact opposite of what Black people need," Vince told Democracy Now!.

Underscoring the systemic nature of police bias against Blacks, a Massachusetts court ruled last week that Black men who encounter Boston police have a legitimate reason to run away. Being "motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled" is a rational response to such encounters.

"This issue is as old as policing in America," Bree Newsome told Democracy Now!