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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Column: Police shootings racially motivated

    One day before the two-month anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, an 18-year-old black teenager was shot and killed by a police officer.

    At 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8, about 16 miles from Ferguson, Mo., an off-duty police officer was patrolling for his second job at Hi-Tech Security when he came across Vonderrit Myers Jr., according to the Washington Post. USA Today reported that St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson claimed Myers ran away and shot three times before his gun jammed, prompting the officer to return fire with 17 rounds, killing him.

    Relatives claim Myers had a sandwich, not a gun, and that the officer shot simply because he was black. Today, this statement is, sadly, in no way outrageous.

    Brown, Myers, 16-year-old Kimani Gray in 2013 who was fixing his belt, 19-year-old college student Kendrec McDade in 2012 who was mistaken to be a part of a robbery and countless other black teenagers have lost their lives because of racial profiling.

    According to The Huffington Post, from 2010 to 2012 black males between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed by police at a rate of 31.17 per every million compared to young white males at 1.47 per million.

    In addition, 68 percent of black deaths at the hands of the police are committed by white officers, and 46 percent of the people killed by white officers are people of color, more than the percentage of people of color in the U.S.

    Not only is this a startling statistic, but it’s also proof that the young black teenage “thug” and “gang” stereotypes are being acted upon.

    A 2002 study called “The Police Officer’s Dilemma” tested the firing reaction of police officers when they see a person holding either a threatening or nonthreatening object. The results found that officers were more hesitant when presented with a white target than when presented with a black one.

    White police officers automatically assume black men are guilty or armed. All the deeply-ingrained stereotypes about black men are coming to a head in these tragedies: Police are racially profiling, and it’s deadly.

    In general, encounters with teenagers are noted by police to be initiated because the teenagers were fleeing or resisting arrest, and 67 percent of those encounters that turn fatal are with black teens.

    The Daily Kos points out that, initially, after all these incidents, officers tell the public what was done was correct. According to FBI records, in 2012, 409 police homicides and 330 citizen homicides were recorded justifiable, and 313 of those people killed were black. Of those, 136 were unarmed and 83 at the time of the shooting were falsely claimed to have a gun, though only 62 were actually armed with a knife or gun.

    The Huffington Post calculated that black men are 21 times more likely to be killed by police over white people, which is not a fact to be proud of.

    Not only the public but also the police cannot continue to accept and defend racial profiling as a valid means of judgement on an armed officer’s account.

    The UA African American Student Affairs had a Black Lives Matters rally around campus Wednesday to protest police brutality against black people. It’s a problem that hits close to home, here and everywhere in the U.S.

    It’s the 21st century, and it’s time Americans began acting as if it was instead of continuing to point fingers at the victims of crime.


    Ashleigh Horowitz is a creative writing freshman. Follow her on Twitter.

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