These three words have entered our consciousness, spoken by Eric Garner as he was choked to death by New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in July 2014. In Portland, James Chasse, Jr. died after an encounter with Portland Police officers in 2006.
How many have died?
The journalists at ProPublica have analyzed recent federal crime statistics and report that black male teenagers (age 15 to 19) are 21 times more likely to be killed by police than white male teenagers of the same age. The New York Times reported on the increasing numbers of situations where the “police officers find themselves playing dual roles as law enforcers and psychiatric social workers,” often with deadly consequences.
Portland Copwatch tracks local incidents of deadly force by the police beginning in 1992; however, its reporting by race is spotty.
The public outcry and demonstrations recently have been fueled not only by the deaths themselves but by the decisions by grand juries not to indict the responsible police officers.
How do I find out what happened?
When events like this trend, we hear about it at the library. People come with questions:
- What exactly happened?
- Where has it happened before?
- Who is in charge and what is s/he doing about it?
- Why does this happen?
- How can I help change things?
We have a wealth of resources here at the library, along with the skills and experience to help identify which are the most relevant and impartial.
If you were searching for a comprehensive list of articles and analysis of the shooting death of Michael Brown and the subsequent decision not to indict Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson, an excellent place to begin is at the library database, Opposing Viewpoints in Context. Just search for Michael Brown.
Dig deeper into Opposing Viewpoints for a broad range of information addressing police violence, including discussions from many sides of this important topic. While police violence is not yet an official (i.e., listed) issue in this database, I believe it soon will be. In the meantime, search for police misconduct or police brutality.
Check out this booklist for more in-depth research.
A number of other libraries have created research guides to finding out more about police violence and its unarmed victims.
- The Free Library of Philadelphia collected resources “exploring the roots of the rage at the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO.”
- The Washington University (St. Louis) Libraries created a Resource Guide on Policing, Community Protest and Unrest.
- The University of Arizona Libraries produced a “jumping-off point” for research on all aspects of the Michael Brown case.