Police State/Civil Liberties

The still-urgent problem of police violence in America

By Ryan Cooper, The Week

This can’t be fixed with minor tweaks, as tens of millions of Americans increasingly realize.

New evidence recently emerged about a Los Angeles police officer fatally shooting two people on December 23: one a seemingly deranged man who was assaulting random people in a Burlington store with a bike lock, and the other a 14-year-old bystander. Body cam footage shows the officer rushed into the scene despite being told over a dozen times by other police to “slow down,” then shot the man with a rifle without giving any verbal warnings or attempting to disarm him. In the process, the officer killed a young girl with a ricochet.

This is a tragedy. It’s also a reminder that despite the national backlash against meaningful police reform both among conservatives and centrist Democrats, there is still an epidemic of police violence in this country, and it will keep happening unless someone does something about it.

The Los Angeles story is just the most prominent recent story of police violence. Overall, The Washington Post counts some 900 Americans fatally shot by police so far this year. Reading through the database provides a grim cross-section of human dysfunction — people killed after a police chase following a stop for allegedly driving on a suspended license, or because they allegedly advanced on officers with a knife after a domestic dispute, or because they allegedly went on a bizarre rampage with a backhoe, and on and on.

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