Police killings are actually increasing in the United States, according to new data, but because our current president is leading every news cycle, brutality is being pushed to the back burner, activists contend.
The rate of police-involved deaths of American citizens is higher than in any month in 2016, and January and February each saw more killings of Americans by police officers than in any month in 2016, according to killedbypolice.net.
With at least 112 deaths, the month of February was actually worse than January 2017, and at least nine more deaths than last year, when there were 103 deaths by police in February 2016.
“In the context of a Trump presidency, there is suddenly so much happening, I think it has been hard for people to focus,” DeRay Mckesson, a popular activist in the Movement for Black Lives, said to The Outline. “But we know that this particular trauma is continuing. It existed before we put the movement together.”
Mapping Police Violence, which synthesizes data of police killings from various sources, is working on analyzing the raw data to see if any patterns have emerged.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions,” said Samuel Sinyangwe, who crunches the numbers for the database. “It will take a few more months to really be able to say there’s something going on, and that’s the work that we’ll be doing in the weeks and months ahead.”
After the higher January numbers were released following Trump’s first weeks in office, activist Shaun King lamented, “I’d be hard-pressed to find a single person in this country ... who knows the names and details of a single person killed by American police last month.”
Yet most agree that another high-profile police brutality case will bring the issue back to the fore.
“There is a battle to get attention on anything that isn’t Trump,” said Sinyangwe. “However, I do think that we have seen this issue die down a little bit in the media and then flare back up as soon as a [high-profile] case comes up.”