Tuesday, January 03, 2017

the counted

I am a huge fan of the Guardian's interactive database "The Counted" which has listed all people who died at the hands of US police since the beginning of 2015. It goes to show what a powerful statement you can make just by compiling data.

No matter if you look at the stats per time (3 people killed every single day) or per population, with vast differences according to skin colour, or if you read individual stories behind the photos. Whichever way you look at it is deeply distressing and very powerful.

Set against the dark mood, I was a tiny little bit cheered to see that the total number of deaths has dropped slightly in 2016 against 2015 (1091 and 1146, respectively). While both numbers are equally horrifying (for comparison, the equivalent number for Germany, with 1/3 of the population, is typically in single digits), I'd like to think that the 5.5 % decline is due to the growing awareness thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement and also perhaps thanks to the monitoring efforts of this database. The relative incidence of deaths among black citizens has also dropped from 7.69 per million to 6.64 (white: 2.95 to 2.9). Still scandalous but at least moving in the right direction. So maybe compiling data can save lives.

On the other hand, Native Americans have suffered a much higher incidence of police killings than the previous year, which might support the argument that historic crimes are allowed to continue under the cover of law enforcement.

screenshot taken on Jan 3rd. Update: checking back on Jan 14th, the count has gone up to 1091. I've updated the figures above, but the conclusions still hold.

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