Monday, August 18, 2014

Ferguson By The Numbers

(Edited to include additional statistic.)

I know I've been absent here the past few days, and it shouldn't surprise you to note that I've been glued to Ferguson. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you'd see me rather active on those fronts as events have developed, leading up to today's deployment of the National Guard.

I'm not really sure what factoid you want me to throw out here that lays the situation out barer than it already is, but hey, let's just start and see if we find one.

*Michael Brown, according to an autopsy requisitioned by his family, was shot six times, resulting in his death. In 2013, the entire combined police force of England and Wales fired their guns three times (clarification: on three occasions, not necessarily firing only three bullets), killing none. In Iceland, police have killed one person in the entire history of their country.

*Back in 2001, when examining cities with populations of at least 10,000 people, Ferguson was one of only two cities in America with a majority black population and no blacks on the city council. The other was Riverdale, Georgia. Since then, Riverdale has converted to an all-black council. Ferguson has since gone to one out of six, representing a city that has risen to two-thirds black.

*The city of Ferguson has hired a public-relations firm. The firm is 100% staffed by whites.

*In 2012, at least 410 people were killed by American police action, but because reporting that is somehow a voluntary thing, the exact number is unknown but probably ranges around 1,000. Meanwhile in 2012, 543 people were killed by anyone in the entire nation of Canada.

*EDIT: In 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court issued 24,352 warrants, which translates to three warrants per household.

*In 2012, 15.0 police officers per 100,000 were killed on the job, according to the Department of Labor Statistics. 105 died in total, with 51 of them- 48.6%- dying as a result of "violence and other injuries by persons or animals". 48 died in "transportation incidents" (think traffic accidents). Four died from slips, trips and falls, and one died as the result of exposure to harmful substances. So if you're actually looking at the violence-at-the-hands-of-others part, you'd be looking at more like 7.3 deaths per 100,000.

Using the 15.0 number, you might compare it to the death rate of roofers (42.2); 'refuse and recyclable material collectors' (aka garbagemen) (32.3); farmers, ranchers and other agricultural managers (22.8); taxi drivers and chauffeurs (16.2); landscaping services (15.0); and grounds maintenance workers (14.2).

The overall number for all self-employed workers is 12.8.

Going by the 7.3 number, shift your attention to electricians (8.9); 'painters, construction and maintenance' (8.0); 'nonmetallic mineral product manufacturing' (7.9); newspaper publishers (7.5); gasoline station workers (6.8); 'pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters' (6.6); and 'laborers and freight, stock and material movers, hand' (6.5).

*Number of times Amnesty International has deployed a human rights team in the United States prior to Ferguson: zero.

This is ostensibly about Michael Brown, but the matter of Michael Brown is no longer strictly necessary to hold the cause of Ferguson together. Even if it came out that he were really some tweaked-out thug beating the stuffing out of 18 people before he was taken down by Darren Wilson following a long struggle, that no longer matters. Too much more has happened since then that justifies its own outrage, independent of the Michael Brown matter. It didn't justify six gunshot wounds. It didn't justify tear gas, or sound cannons, or flashbang grenades, or armored vehicles, or riot gear, or curfews, and it especially did not justify the National Guard.

President Obama just spoke, and among his statements, he noted that he's going to start looking at how much of the resources allocated to local police forces are actually needed by them.

Back in April, Dodge County, Wisconsin, the county in which I live, got an armored vehicle. I would very much prefer for that not to be in Dodge County right now.

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