A new project by the Guardian has revealed what we already know: police in the United States are trigger-happy igniting a fatal epidemic in the country. The project entitled “The Counted” is tracking every police killing in 2015 and on Tuesday the Guardian compared the year’s first few months of data with police violence numbers in other countries. The results capture an escalating phenomenon unique to the U.S. that ultimately screams we have reached crisis levels of police violence and brutality.
Of the shocking facts, the most telling revelations were:
Iceland has had only one fatal police shooting ever in the nation’s 71-year-existence while Stockton, California has killed three people in the first five months of 2015.
More unarmed black men were shot and killed by police this year than people of any race in Germany for two years. American police have shot and killed an unarmed black man every week this year while Germany has shot 15 people in 2010 and 2011.
Australian police have fatally shot 94 individuals in the span of 19 years. The U.S. exceeded that number with 97 fatal police shootings in March 2015 alone.
American Police fired more bullets in one shooting than Finland’s police have done in one year. In Pasco, Washington, police fired 17 bullets at Antonio Zambrano-Montes, who was armed with a “rock.” That number is almost three times greater than what Finnish police fired off in 2013.
The data bluntly demonstrates we have a clear problem in the U.S. of police violence, racism and gun control. As the Guardian notes, “America is the outlier”, that even among countries with similar economic and political standing we are far behind other established societies in maintaining peace and simultaneously not erupting into violent chaos.
The extreme militarization of police has made cops see themselves more as warriors rather than protectors in the communities they patrol. Combining this power-hungry, heavy militarized control with America's long history of racial profiling and segregation and our relaxed policies on guns (more guns means more armed criminals and more police apprehensively firing off because of that concern) have created the conditions necessary to turn police brutality from a rare occurrence in other parts of the world to a striking phenomenon in the U.S.