Also, I added this massive paragraph, perhaps redundantly, to my Medium post on Roland Fryer’s use-of-force data. Does it make sense and add up to you? (Only if you have time. It’s a bit heady. I just don’t get how people can argue that )
Use of force by police is estimated, in several studies, to be about 2.5 times higher for African Americans in raw numbers compared to the general population, and The Guardian and The Washington Post consistently shows killings are 2.0 times higher (13% of population, but 26% of deaths). The difference with whites is slightly greater. Think about those two data points, 2.0 and 2.5, and ask yourself: “Shouldn’t those numbers be fairly close?” But I’m often fed the argument, “Well, you don’t know the many unofficial times police mistreat black people, so your analysis is highly limited and you should question use-of-force data.” Yes, racial bias and line-crossing brutality by police does occur. Police lie. Though, I argue it’s isolated and often shared with the outside world through viral videos and anecdotally with little evidence of one key aspect: prevalence. This stands in contrast to current systemic arguments of racial discrimination, to name some examples, inhousing, hiring practices (the bias against “black-sounding” names, also see:Fryer’s research with a Freakanomics co-writer), and prison terms (10% longer sentences for blacks than whites). The lynchpin underneath my argument that use-of-force data and death-by-police data are intertwined rests on two uncontroversial points: 1. Yes, police can theoretically hide abused people through non-reporting; 2. No, they can’t hide dead bodies. But how much are they “hiding” data for one group of people (black males), but not another (white males), the implication behind point #1? Logic dictates that if one set of violence, like use of force, really happened 3–4 times more for blacks than the general population (and, again, it’s documented as 2.5) then police involved killings would also have to be 3–4 times higher (and it’sbasically a fact it’s 2.0). For now, the crowdsourcing data vigorously gathered by The Washington Post and The Guardian is the gold standard until the FBI and law enforcement get their act together in terms of data collection. Thus, I argue the “common knowledge” or “ethnographic” explanation — and argument stopper — of racially motivated police harassment (“white privilege”) is deeply suspect. I’ve yet to be convinced, though I’m open to any evidence or argument, that police are beating up people people up at twice the rate they’re killing them.