This article was originally published by Matt Agorist at The Free Thought Project.
As TFTP reported this week, James Williams, 46, spent his last seconds on Earth wondering who shot him during their family’s celebration to bring in the New Year. It would later be determined that the person who shot him was a Canton police officer, who executed Williams as this father of six celebrated New Year’s Eve in his own backyard.
Without identifying himself, the officer reportedly shot in the blind from the other side of Williams’ 6-foot tall privacy fence. As he was killed just after midnight on New Year’s Eve in the Eastern time zone, Williams became the first person to be killed by police in 2022. He was innocent, a father of six, a loving husband, and he was executed in his own backyard.
Williams was the first of at least 1,000 people who will be killed in 2022 by America’s security force. He had harmed no one and his life was taken from him. Unfortunately, this will happen nearly every day as the year progresses.
According to a recent analysis of police killings in 2021, carried out by the folks at PoliceViolenceReport.org, the majority of police killings involve calls in which there was no crime or that the suspect is only suspected of a non-violent offense.
“Most killings began with police responding to suspected non-violent offenses or cases where no crime was reported,” the report states.
It gets worse.
According to a comprehensive database of all American mass shootings that have taken place since 2018, constructed by Mother Jones, there have been exactly 202 deaths attributed to mass shootings that have taken place on American soil.
As Mother Jones notes, in their database, they exclude shootings stemming from more conventional crimes such as armed robbery or gang violence. Other news outlets and researchers have published larger tallies that include a wide range of gun crimes in which four or more people have been either wounded or killed. While those larger datasets of multiple-victim shootings may be useful for studying the broader problem of gun violence, our investigation provides an in-depth look at the distinct phenomenon of mass shootings—from the firearms used to mental health factors and the growing copycat problem.
If we compare the 202 citizens killed in mass shootings to citizens killed by police in the same time frame, the comparison is off the charts. We are talking about a 2,223 percent difference.
As 2022 begins, American police polish off another deadly year, ending 1,124 lives in 2021. This number is set to increase by one, on average, every 8 hours.
Since 2018, cops in America have killed 4,492 citizens. And most people are not saying anything about it.
These shocking numbers highlight a major problem when it comes to how police are policing. For starters, police have proven their incompetence in dealing with mental health issues. Since 2015 alone, police in America have killed over 1,400 people during a mental health crisis. Many of these folks were never accused of a crime prior to police arriving on the scene.
This inability to resolve mental health issues without using deadly force is the impetus behind programs like the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program in Denver.
As TFTP has pointed out, even cops who voluntarily attend Crisis Intervention Training (CIT), have shown that they are quick to the trigger when dealing with the mentally ill.
The list of unarmed and often completely innocent mentally ill people killed by police is immense. TFTP archives are full of tragic stories in which police were called to help someone in a crisis and end up murdering them. People are killed even when they aren’t in a crisis and simply act differently like Elijah McClain, who was on his way home from buying groceries and was murdered by police because he was an introvert and wore a ski mask.
This is why some municipalities have begun removing cops from the situation entirely.
On June 1, 2020, Denver began the Support Team Assistance Response (STAR) program, which sends a mental health professional and a paramedic to some 911 calls instead of cops. When we first reported on the program in October 2020, their results were fantastic. Now, it seems that departments that continue the old way are doing a disservice to the mentally ill.
According to their latest data, STAR has responded to more than 2,500 calls to 911 in which police would have normally been sent out. The STAR team — armed only with experience and compassion — has never once called police to back them up and no one was ever arrested.
Since we originally reported on STAR last year, they have gotten a fleet of vehicles and are expanding their services.
They have settled every single call without killing someone, beating them, ruining their lives, or using violence. Imagine that.
Another type of encounter that turns deadly all too often is the traffic stop.
While most everyone in America commits these same traffic infractions designed for revenue collection instead of safety, most of the people targeted by police for these crimes are the poor and minorities. Oftentimes, officers treat these stops as gateways to fish for drug activity or other victimless crimes. While ending the drug war would have a much more profound effect, some municipalities have kicked around the idea of removing traffic stops from the mission of police officers.
Traffic stops in the land of the free, are a means of bolstering the prison industrial complex by extracting revenue from those who can pay and incarcerating others who cannot.
For those too poor to pay their tickets, routine traffic stops end up in repeated imprisonment due to mounting fines. Cities across the country are running a de facto debtors’ prison this way.
When cops aren’t routinely extorting and locking people up for petty traffic offenses, they are killing them.
This is why moves like we reported on in October, are important. As we reported, lawmakers in Philadelphia have passed legislation banning cops from making minor traffic stops. The law is expected to go into effect by February of this year.
By a 14-2 majority vote, the city council approved the Driving Equality measure which they say will deter and reduce disparate, unequal police practices in how minority motorists are stopped by police for minor offenses like broken tail lights and expired inspection stickers.
According to Councilmember Isaiah Thomas, who worked with the Defenders Association, and the city Law Department to draft the bill, it is designed to “significantly reduce car stops by police for minor infractions that advocates believe discriminate disproportionately against Black and Brown motorists.”
The 120 day period before it goes into effect is specifically designated as a police training period so officers can be educated in how not to prey on the poor and minorities through predatory laws like license plate lights, window tint, seat belt laws, expired stickers, and other laws designed to extract revenue from citizens.
Unlike other legislation, which claims to aid society by limiting certain prosecutions for thefts and other petty crimes with actual victims, this bill truly does stop the persecution of a myriad of real victimless crimes.
If we want cops to stop killing more people than mass shooters, these steps and others must happen.