Race and policing
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The United States signed the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ("ICERD" or "Convention") in 1966. President Lyndon Johnson's administration noted at the time that the United States "has not always measured up to its constitutional heritage of equality for all" but that it was "on the march" toward compliance. The United States finally ratified the Convention in 1994 and first reported on its progress in implementing the Convention to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ("CERD" or "Committee") in 2000. In August 2022, the Committee will examine the combined 10th – 12th periodic reports by the United States on compliance with the Convention. This report supplements the submission of the government with additional information in key areas and offers recommendations that will, if adopted, enhance the government's ability to comply with ICERD.
The murder of George Floyd in May 2020 spurred a national reckoning around how Black people are viewed and treated by law enforcement and the criminal legal system. Some elected officials, prosecutors, and police have acknowledged their moral responsibility to pursue racial justice by examining racial disparities and inequities. This report addresses one such practice—non-traffic-safety stops. These occur when police stop and detain people for minor traffic violations that pose no identifiable risk of harm to people outside of the vehicle. Vera partnered with the Suffolk County (Massachusetts) District Attorney's Office from July 2020 to March 2022 to study racial disparities in the criminal legal system. Vera's analysis revealed that non-traffic-safety stops in Suffolk County are worsening racial disparities in traffic enforcement. This report shares findings from Vera's analysis, along with proposed solutions that prohibit or deter such stops.
This report outlines recommendations for a unilateral reimagining of public safety systems. It details guidance for redirecting police services to critical areas of public need and building a network of systems and services to support community needs and ensure measures of safety for the entire community.The recommendations are designed to address racial disparities and reduce the harm caused by the reliance on police. The report addresses gaps and inconsistencies in law enforcement policies, staffing and resourcing needs in the police department, and a need for improvement in both oversight and community resources. The recommendations are divided into suggestions to the Mayor's Office, the St. Louis Department of Public Safety, and guidance to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD).
Color Of Change and Public Accountablity Initiative/LittleSis have compiled the most extensive report to date of the links between police foundations and corporations, identifying over 1,200 corporate donations or executives serving as board members at 23 of the largest police foundations in the country. This is the largest known study identifying the acute threat that police foundations pose to Black and Brown communities and democracy.
Black people have always known that systems of criminalization and surveillance are designed to destroy. The overwhelming sadness and rage we feel when one of us is murdered by the police yet again is the same sadness and rage that our ancestors felt. They knew that if they wanted justice, they had to build their own communities centered in love, accountability, and care. Now more than ever, we must follow in their footsteps. As we write this, we are surviving in a police state, during a pandemic that disproportionately kills and disables Black people, with a recession looming and a clear expiration date for our planet. The moment for transformation is upon us; will you step into it with us? We give this resource guide to you as a gift and an invitation. Our hope is that these pages will empower you to take your next step in embracing community-led safety. We offer guidance about starting and leading these conversations, context to help you understand how far-reaching police violence is, and resources across the Twin Cities to support your work. The work to transform the world we live in isn't easy, but we love you, ourselves, and our communities too much to not fully invest in this movement. Consider this an invitation to join us on this journey, to one day reach the liberation we dream of.
The first part of this report is an update to Amnesty International's 2015 report Deadly Force: Police use of lethal force in the United States, which reviewed state use of lethal force laws in all 50 states and Washington D.C. The second part of the report focuses on the policing of protests that have occurred in cities across the USA since the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Amnesty International reviewed over 500 videos of protests and documented 125 separate incidents of police violence against protestors in 40 states and the District of Columbia between May 26th and June 5th of 2020. This report also draws on Amnesty International's interviews with 50 individuals, including protestors, journalists, legal observers and street medics, and a review of media reports, medical reports, photos, and videos. Conclusively, there is a disturbing lack of progress in the last five years in ensuring that police officers use lethal force only when there is an imminent risk of death or serious injury to themselves or others.
"No Police in Schools: A Vision for Safe and Supportive Schools in CA" analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Education's 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), the 2019 California Racial and Identity Profiling Act (RIPA) Stops dataset, and data from Stockton Unified School District on police in schools. The data conclusively show harmful and discriminatory policing patterns in schools. School police contribute to the criminalization of tens of thousands of California students, resulting in them being pushed out of school and into the school-to-prison pipeline. Critically, the data suggest that schools underreport the number of assigned law enforcement officers, so these problems are likely even more severe.
"Chasing Justice" reviews and cross-analyzes data Baltimore Police Department provided to Code for America's Project Comport, which includes with five years of information about misconduct complaints, use of force incidents, and officer-involved shootings, from 2015 through 2019. The purpose of the report is to examine 1) race disparities in different aspects of policing, 2) how police departments contribute to violence in the community and further distrust of both the legal justice system and internal disciplinary process; and 3) the consequences of failing to hold officers and departments accountable.
Throughout history, the US has created laws that have discriminated against people of color, and as a result, examples of differential treatment on the basis of race can be found throughout the criminal legal system. This brief aims to provide a comprehensive overview of racial disparities at each level of the criminal legal system and highlight how each decision point of the system impacts the next, resulting in continuous, disparate outcomes for people of color. Our findings suggest that in order to address these disparities, researchers must approach their work with appropriately contextualized research questions and an understanding of the language they use. Additionally, researchers should frame reported statistics with the appropriate historical setting, and actively approach research through community engaged methods.
Policing in America has always been the entry into the criminal justice system. A system which has clear links to slavery, Black Codes and Jim Crows laws, now looks like police brutality and mass incarceration. For some, policing in America has never been synonymous to public safety—the bold idea that all people should feel safe in their homes and communities. The National Urban League produced its 21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust ("21 Pillars") to offer a framework for advocacy that redefines public safety and restores community trust – paving a way beyond the status quo. Our forward-thinking plan is emphasized by five key themes designed to promote the protection and preservation of life, dignity, and trust, while also building safer communities. The five themes are:Collaborate with Communities to Re-Envision Public SafetyAccountability Change Divisive Policing Policies Require Transparency, Reporting and Data CollectionImprove Hiring Standards and TrainingFor too long communities around the nation, particularly Black communities, have had their lives, safety, and freedom threatened by discriminatory and violent policing. Our communities deserve to feel safe in their homes, in their cars, and on their streets, including being safe from police violence. The 21 Pillars presents a look at what is possible – a plan forward. Public safety must be re-envisioned.
As a result of years of persistent multi-organizational advocacy, the public has access to data on policing in New York City public schools. First passed in 2011 and then amended in 2015, the "Student Safety Act" mandates that the New York City Police Department (NYPD) post quarterly datasets. As ofAugust 2021, there are now five full school years of reporting on school policing. From the 2016-2017 school year to 2021-2021, there have been a total of 40,233 reports of school-based police interventions. During that time, Black girls represented 57% of all school-based police interventions targeting girls, but made up only 22% of the girls in the public school system.
Approximately 240 million calls are made to 911 every year in the United States. Only a small fraction of these calls are for serious or violent crimes. Even in communities with high homicide rates such as Baltimore, Camden, New Haven, and New Orleans, fewer than 4 percent of 911 calls are related to violent crimes. Instead, the majority of these calls are related to incidents of disorderly conduct, noise complaints, suspicious people or cars, mental health issues, substance use, and homelessness.Programs that deploy public health professionals and crisis workers to situations involving mental health, substance use, and homelessness—referred to as alternative dispatch programs—offer an emerging solution that can save lives and provide critical services to those in need. Alternative dispatch programs utilize first responders who are specifically trained to resolve the emergencies that most commonly arise in communities with methods that address root problems and minimize the risk of force or deeper involvement with the justice system. These programs provide communities with a critical means for addressing crises, while also freeing police to focus on preventing and solving serious crimes.