Killed and Killer Cops
Harris County, Texas, Sheriff Ron Hickman claims that one of his deputies, Darren Goforth, was shot to death “because he wore a uniform.” Goforth was gunned down while filling up his tank at a Houston gas station. Shannon Miles, the 30 year-old Black man charged in the killing, has a history of mental illness. Of course, a Black person doesn’t have to be crazy to want to harm a cop. But, cop-killing in the United States is actually quite rare, when compared to the huge number of civilian lives snuffed out by folks that wear “the uniform.” If there is some kind of war with the cops, as Sheriff Hickman deceptively infers, then it’s a very one-sided conflict.
We will never know the full historical extent of police mayhem and murder, since U.S. authorities have never compelled local police departments to keep records of who they kill, and why. Withholding information is part of police impunity from punishment—or even criticism—in this country. But, the cops are keen to keep track of their own casualties “in the line of duty”—which, it turns out, are at historically low levels. An FBI study of police fatalities shows that an average of 64 police officers per year were feloniously killed between 1980 and 2014. Only 27 cops were killed in 2013, the lowest death-toll for the whole 35-year period. The next year, 2014, cop killings went up, with 51 officers dead. But, that’s still way below the average of 64 a year. This year, the number of felonious police deaths from all causes is on track to be about the same as in 2014. So, the statistics tell us that there has been no rash of attacks on cops. Those who try to portray cops as victims of what Sheriff Hickman calls “dangerous national rhetoric” are simply attempting to silence the real victims of police-terror.
Thanks to a process begun by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement’s 2012 “Operation Ghetto Storm” study of extrajudicial police killings of Black people, the civilized world is aghast at the bloodthirstiness of U.S. police. As the Guardian newspaper reported earlier this summer, U.S. police kill more people in days than other countries kill in years. For the first time, the names and pictures of the fallen are posted for planetary observation, so that the rest of the species can know how the U.S. government really feels about human rights. The figures are not yet in on the civilian body count for August, but July was the deadliest month this year for people who found themselves on the other side of police guns, Tasers, chokeholds, and batons.
Civilians are also killing each other in large numbers, with homicides up in many cities. The cops want you to believe that’s because officers are being less aggressive in fear of being charged with brutality. That’s insane. First of all, U.S. cops are already by far the most lethally aggressive and demonstrably racist in the developed world, which is why one out of every eight prison inmates on the planet is an African American, and why the U.S. stands alone in police violence against civilians. Secondly, in the Black community, the cops’ job is not to protect the residents. It is to contain, control and terrorize the population. Sheriff Hickman wants to get on with the business of police terror, because that’s all he’s good at.
—Black Agenda Report, September 1, 2015