Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Michael Brown

Police Don’t Kill People. Guns Do.

I’ve been doing some more thinking about the recent cases in which American police officers shoot and kill people (e.g. Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, etc.). It has occurred to me that there are two important angles to the national debate we’re having, but I’ve only really talked about one of those angles on this blog. They are:

  1. The Race Angle–why do American police officers disproportionately shoot more black people than white people, even when you adjust for poverty and crime rates?
  2. The Civil Liberty Angle–why do American police officers shoot more people per capita than police officers in other developed countries?

In late November, I offered a view on the race angle, but what about the civil liberty angle? What is it about America that causes American police officers to behave differently from police officers from other similarly developed societies? Let’s investigate.

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Racial Unrest in America: The Michael Brown Trial is Not The Point

Yesterday, a grand jury decided not to indict white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. This has resulted in a mix of peaceful protest and rioting in Ferguson, as well as protests in many other major American cities. My Facebook feed is full to bursting with people declaring themselves to be for or against the grand jury’s decision. Unfortunately, I’m seeing many people get caught up in the details of arguing over whether or not the jury made the right decision. This myopic response distracts from the larger structural issue the United States needs to confront–implicit racism in American police forces and throughout American society.

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Michael Brown, Ferguson, and Implicit Racism in America

In recent weeks, everywhere I look I see pieces written by people about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Some of the pieces support Brown, others attack Brown, all of them make explicit or implicit claims about what the incident means for America’s soul. All of them seem to take as a given that this incident tells us something we didn’t already know. The truth is that like any individual death (regardless of whether it was murder or an accident), Michael Brown’s does not tell us what the general trends are in America. All it can serve to do is highlight an issue. To understand what’s really going on, we have to look at that issue in a wider statistical context, and this piece seeks to provide that context.

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Demilitarization of the Police Requires Demilitarization of Civilians

The recent clashes between demonstrators and police forces in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police forces has many calling into question the slow, steady rate at which police forces in the United States have become militarized. If we want to stop and potentially reverse this trend, we need to understand its underlying cause–the simultaneous militarization of the civilian population.

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