Police Shootings and Minorities


Michael J. Irvine

armed Most common weapons people are armed with when shot by police

Perhaps the story of 2015 so far has been the continued tension between the police and minority communities in places like Baltimore and McKinney, Texas. To help make sense of police shootings, the Washington Post has compiled an important, unfortunate dataset of every person shot dead by police in the United States in 2015. They have done some great visualizations of the data on their website, along with excellent reporting by Wesley Lowery and others on the subject, but their analysis left me with some questions.

Generally, I wanted to see whether and how racial disparities are reflected in the data. Members of minority racial groups know through their lived experiences that the relationship they have with the authorities are not the same that white people do. Psychological research confirms that Americans are apt to perceive young, Black men as more aggressive…

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