Five Years After Ferguson

Eighteen-year-old Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer on August 9, 2014.

It sparked protests that spread across the country and launched unprecedented federal investment in policing reform as well as a national task force report with recommendations on how to improve our nation’s police.

Now five years later,

  • Fatal police shootings have not declined,
  • Popular reforms like body cameras have fallen short of expectations, and
  • The federal government has retreated from police reform.
  • Fatal Police Shootings Continue at approximately the same rate.

Before Ferguson, there were no reliable data about police shootings in America. But in early 2015, the Washington Post started a real-time police shooting database to record and analyze every fatal shooting by an on-duty police officer in the United States.

After a decline in 2016, the number of fatal police shootings rose in 2017 and 2018 to earlier rates, and 2019 is on track to meet or exceed those figures.

The data also show 

  • African Americans are shot and killed by police at a disproportionate rate.
  • An unarmed black man is about four times more likely to be killed by police than an unarmed white man.

Since 2015, police have shot and killed an average of three people per day, most of them young men.

Despite resounding public demands for accountability, criminal charges against police officers remain rare. There has been no significant uptick in police prosecutions since Ferguson. Convictions are even fewer.

What would it take to make police use of deadly force a national concern and for us to engage in a national effort to reduce its use by police?

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You can read the full report from the Equal Justice Initiative HERE.

See also the Washington Post report on five years after Ferguson.