After all the attention the Black Lives Matter-led racial justice movement generated after George Floyd’s death in 2020, new data show that the number of Black people killed by police has actually increased over the last two years, reports NBC BLK.
According to data collected by the Washington Post, police shot and killed at least 1,055 people nationwide last year, the most since the newspaper began tracking fatal shootings by officers in 2015. That is more than the 1,021 shootings in 2020 and the 999 in 2019.
Black people, who account for 13 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for 27 percent of those fatally shot and killed by police in 2021, according to Mapping Police Violence, a nonprofit group that tracks police shootings. That means Black people are twice as likely to be shot and killed by police as White people.
“It’s bad and it’s sad, but it’s not shocking that we’re still being killed at a higher rate,” said Karundi Williams, the CEO of re:power, a national organization that trains Black people to become political leaders. “When we have moments of racial injustice that is thrust in the national spotlight, there is an uptick of outrage, and people take to the streets. But then the media tends to move on to other things, and that consciousness decreases. But we never really got underneath the problem.”
And the problems are many. Rashawn Ray, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a think tank, said it is a flawed notion that paying more attention to police brutality will result in less police brutality.
“People perceive that people protesting in the streets leads to people caring more, and sometimes it leads to people resisting the change more. And in this case, we’re talking about officers resisting the change,” said Ray, who is also a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland. “What we see in the immediate aftermath of the demonstrations is police officers’ hunkering down and standing behind the blue wall of silence even more.”
Williams said there is also an inherent foe that prevents widespread change.
“The system wasn’t built to protect Black people,” Williams said. “And until we get to the root cause of policing and police brutality and the differences in the way police treat Black folks versus white folks, we’re not going to get to change.”
Williams said the data mean that “until we get to policies that dismantle the system that exists, we’re not going to see this stop.”