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Data | How badly are African-Americans affected by police brutality in the U.S.?

Protests against police brutality have been raging across the U.S. following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, under the knee of a white police officer in Minneapolis. An analysis of police shootings between 2013 and 2019 across the U.S. shows that African-Americans were disproportionately targeted.

Victims by race

African-Americans are three times more likely to be killed in police shootings than white people. Close to 42 per million population of African-Americans were killed in such shootings in the period, the highest among all races.

Which race was most affected by police killings?

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image/svg+xmlRace ofthe victimNo. ofvictimsVictims permillion peopleAfrican American1,94442Pacific Islander4229Hispanic1,33522Native American11220White3,37814Asian1185


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Share of unarmed victims by race

Over 17% of African-American victims were unarmed when they were killed, the highest among all races. They were 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed compared to white people when they were killed. More than 15% of Hispanic victims were unarmed when they were killed. In a significant number of cases, it was unclear whether the victims possessed weapons at the time of the police shooting. The table reflects the share of unarmed persons among known cases.

What was the share of unarmed victims?

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image/svg+xml%unarmedAfrican American17.3Hispanic15.1White13.4Asian10.2Pacific Islander9.5Native American8.9Race ofthe victim


Also read: Data | Why is it necessary to test more to reduce the impact of COVID-19?

Victims of an off-duty officer

African-Americans were also most at risk at being killed by an off-duty officer. Nearly 5% (96) of all African-American victims (1,944) died after being shot by an officer who was not on duty.

Which race was most affected by actions of off-duty officers?

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image/svg+xmlOff-dutykillings%964.9White792.3Hispanic251.9Unknown race243.3Pacific Islander12.4Native American10.9Asian00.0African AmericanRace ofthe victim


Was the police held accountable?

In more than 98% (7,564) of the shootings, officers were not charged with any crime. Charges were framed in 99 instances but convictions were recorded in only 20.

What was the share of instances in which police officers were charged or convicted?

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Last word

A large number of African-Americans have taken to the streets across the U.S. in the midst of the pandemic. This may adversely impact the country’s fight against COVID-19, which has infected a disproportionate share of African-Americans. While African-Americans make up around 13% of the population, they account for 26% of COVID-19 cases and 25% of deaths related to the disease.

In the U.S., race plays a role in access to housing, medical care and employment opportunities, and income levels. African-Americans have a high prevalence of comorbidities and are 1.5 times more likely to not have medical insurance compared to white Americans.

Sources: Mapping Police Violence, Tonia Poteat et al; “Understanding COVID-19 Risks and Vulnerabilities among Black Communities in America: The Lethal Force of Syndemics”

Also read: COVID-19 | State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

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