American police recently hit a grim milestone. The Guardian reported police have killed their 1,000th person. The Guardian has been tracking the number of police fatalities in a project called The Counted. The British newspaper decided to take up the task when it was revealed that no domestic agency records the number of Americans killed by police.
The 1,000th victim was an Oakland resident killed by local police after they were towing away vehicles involved in public stunts.
“Officers working sideshow approached by subject who pointed firearm in their direction,” said the Oakland Police Department on Twitter. “Officers fatally shot subject.”
According to The Guardian, the Oakland fatality was the 883rd police shooting this year. However, The Guardian also tracks deaths resulting from people being shocked by Tasers, hit by police cars, and people who died in custody or from fights with police officers.
Police brutality and extrajudicial police killings have become political issues addressed by Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders. After Black Lives Matters activists disrupted a campaign speech, Sanders published a lengthy online manifesto describing how he would tackle police brutality, the growth of the Prison Industrial Complex and mass incarceration.
Clinton, who is drawing more Black supporters than Sanders, has also addressed issues raised by Black Lives Matters. She recently met with the mothers of young Black men killed by police violence. Clinton has also made criminal justice reform part of her campaign platform.
“We also need to look beyond the specific criminal justice reforms to the deep-seated social and economic inequities that divide our country,” said Clinton during a speech at Clark Atlanta University. “More than half a century after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. King marched and John Lewis bled, race still plays a significant role in determining who gets ahead in America and who gets left behind.”
However, on the other side of the political fence the Republican Party seems to be clueless about how to address police violence or the issues raised by Black Lives Matter. In response they have branded BLM a terrorist group and accused the activists of collaborating with ISIS and threatening the lives of police officers. The right-wing media blamed BLM for the death of Lt. Charles Joseph Gliniewicz, a Fox Lake officer. But on further investigation, it was revealed Gliniewicz committed suicide after being hit with corruption charges.
Republican candidates have taken a belligerent attitude towards Black Lives Matter. Dr. Ben Carson branded the movement as “sickening,” while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he would refuse to meet with BLM and accused them of calling for the murder of police officers. The only Republican candidate to talk about police violence is Sen. Rand Paul, who recently called for the GOP to hold a Black Lives Matters town hall.
Faced with political inaction on police violence, some Black people are reevaluating their living arrangements and considering emigrating to other countries where the police are not as hostile. Kyle Canty, a Black man born in America, recently sought refugee status in Canada claiming he didn’t feel safe in the United States.
Darnell Walker, the director of Seeking Asylum, a documentary about Black people exploring life abroad, said living in America is a stressful experience. In an interview with The Daily Beast, he describes how he feels when he is stopped by the police.
“My heart stops and my hands start shaking,” he said. Then he thinks, “Oh my God. I am going to die right now? Is something going to happen?”