Yesterday, a new report was released by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about shootings by police during the coronavirus pandemic. The report highlights that shootings by police have not slowed since the beginning of the pandemic despite stay-home-orders and social distancing. In fact, the ACLU identified seven states —Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Montana and Nevada —where there have been more fatal shootings by police in 2020 compared to past years.
The report also noted that in the first six months of 2020, there were over 500 fatal police shootings — which is up from the same period in 2019. The police shootings of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and many others have intensified conversations around police violence and gun violence and their disproportionate impact on Black and Latino communities.
As police shootings continued, an increase in gun violence in cities also made national headlines in recent months. Politicians have attempted to blame this increase on Black Lives Matter protests and gun safety laws with baseless myths. However, in reality, the pandemic has exacerbated existing circumstances that contribute to America’s alarming rates of gun violence, particularly in Black and Latino communities in American cities. Many cities saw increases in gun violence this year well before the protests started following the death of George Floyd this summer.
Meaningful use of force policies encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable. Use of force policies can ensure that laws help advance safety and promote trust in the police.
Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police.
Black people in the United States are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans.
More information on gun violence and police violence here. Read the full article here. To speak with a policy expert, Moms Demand Action volunteer and/or Students Demand Action volunteer, please do not hesitate to reach out.