The Fatal Police Shootings You Aren’t Hearing About

Reply Thu 14 Jul, 2016 07:54 pm

The Fatal Police Shootings You Aren’t Hearing About
Police killings of Latinos aren’t getting the scrutiny they should, activists say.
07/14/2016 01:18 pm 13:18:36

Roque Planas National Reporter for The Huffington Post.

After speeding down a road at nearly 90 mph, Pedro Villanueva hit a dead end, turned his truck around and barreled toward the car that had been chasing him. Two plainclothes officers who had followed Villanueva in an unmarked car opened fire, leaving the 19-year-old man dead and a passenger injured.

Villanueva was unarmed. The officers who shot him on July 4 in Fullerton, California, had been investigating an illicit car rally where participants raced and did tricks. The passenger, 18, has not been charged with a crime, according to the Fullerton Police Department. Officials declined to release his name, saying the case was still under criminal investigation.

At a time when police killings have dominated national media attention, one might have expected Villanueva’s death at the hands of police to become a major story. It didn’t.

Several other Latinos have died in confrontations with police across the United States in recent weeks. None of them garnered much media attention outside the state press, but many activists and analysts say such deaths deserve more scrutiny in order to better understand the complex relationship between police and Latino communities.

For many, the lack of media attention is a glaring reminder of the scant influence Latinos wield in the country’s leading newsrooms. Several experts interviewed by HuffPost last year after the death of Antonio Montes-Zambrano ― an unarmed Mexican migrant with mental health problems who had thrown rocks at police in Pasco, Washington ― agreed that police killings of Hispanics rarely received national attention in large part because the national media rarely takes interest in Latino issues at all.

A 2014 study published by Columbia University found that less than 1 percent of national news stories focused on Latinos. A majority of those stories covered a Hispanic who was breaking the law.

Others say the Latino community needs more powerful institutions and leaders to attract media attention to Hispanic issues. Rick Rios, a co-founder of the Pasco-based civic group Consejo Latino, praised the work of civil rights leaders and Black Lives Matter, saying Hispanic activists should follow their lead.

“I always go back to the same thing: lack of leadership,” Rios, who played a leading role in publicizing the Montes-Zambrano case, told HuffPost. “We’re not going to legislate discrimination away, we need leadership ... That’s what you see with groups like Black Lives Matter. They’re organized. They’re powerful. That’s what the Latino community needs to do.”
Pedestrians view a memorial on Feb. 18, 2015, in Pasco, Washington, on the sidewalk where Antonio Zambrano-Montes was fatally shot by police.

Franklin Cruz, a program director at the Justice Management Institute, also criticized the Hispanic political leadership for focusing on immigration to the exclusion of other pressing issues like the Latino community’s relationship with law enforcement.

“Politicians who hope to get the attention of the Hispanic populations are overwhelmingly concerned with immigration,” Cruz told HuffPost. “But also, within our own community, we have not been good about raising what the other issues are.”

At an #ElectionVoices event hosted by Twitter and HuffPost Latino Voices last week, Voto Latino president and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar noted that while people of all backgrounds are coming together for protests on various causes ― including minimum wage and Black Lives Matter ― the media has had a role in segregating coverage depending on the issues.

“I think the media does a great job of wanting to silo who we are as Americans,” she said. “They’re like, ‘Oh, that’s the immigrant issue, that’s the African-American issue, that’s the Asian issue.’ No, it’s us. And until we understand that we have a vested interest in all these different topics we can’t actually come together with an American agenda.”

While dozens staged protests for Villanueva, the teen killed by police, and several local outlets like the Los Angeles Times and O.C. Weekly covered the case, the major cable networks and most national media passed it by. The only one of the top-five cable news channels to mention Villanueva’s death in a national broadcast was Univisión, during a July 11 episode of the morning show “Despierta América,” according to a review of data compiled by TV Eyes.

At least five other Hispanics died in confrontations with police in the U.S. this month, according to Venezuelan state broadcaster teleSUR. Some of them, like Vinson Ramos in Bell, California, allegedly had a weapon when they were killed by police. Other cases, like that of Fermin Vincent Valenzuela, remain less clear.

Anaheim police officers allegedly Tasered Valenzuela in the chest after responding to a report that the man had been following a woman. The 32-year-old had two children. Family members say they will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Anaheim Police Department, as well as Taser International, the producer of the stun gun, according to the Orange County Register. Garo Mardirossian, the attorney representing the family, said at a press conference this week that Valenzuela had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder due to family abuse.

One indication of how little influence Hispanics exert over law enforcement institutions is that police departments don’t routinely track the ethnicity of people who die in police killings, Cruz said. That makes it hard to even begin analyzing the Latino community’s complicated relationship with police.

Failing to collect such data confuses other basic information like the arrest rate. Law enforcement agencies have often lumped Latinos arrested in the Southwest together with whites when they aren’t given an ethnicity option, according to Cruz. In other areas with large Caribbean populations, like New York, law enforcement might instead classify Hispanics as black.

Those agencies that do identify Hispanics often classify them as a race, which contradicts the practice of the U.S. Census Bureau. (The terms “Latino” and “Hispanic” refer to an ethnicity. Those of Latin American heritage can belong to any race.) Consequently, it remains unclear from government data how many Latinos die at the hands of police.

The Washington Post has compiled one of the most extensive independent databases, but it only includes data through last year. The paper has identified 518 people killed by police so far this year, including 80 Latinos ― about 15 percent of the total. That figure is roughly proportional to the percentage of Hispanics in the U.S. population, though the paper couldn’t identify an ethnicity in dozens of the 518 cases.

“What we call a criminal justice system is not built as a system ― its data is fragmented,” Cruz told HuffPost. “I don’t think we know the scope of the problem.”
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 857 • Replies: 9

mark noble
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 07:44 am
@bobsal u1553115,
You'll hear about them when you're MEANT to hear about them - Timing is everything.
Red, Blue, Red, Blue.......
Get it?
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 07:53 am
@bobsal u1553115,
I don't think white murders are getting the attention they deserve either. Police reform is an American issue. Racial inequality is a bolded-font bullet point under that umbrella.

We have a deadly serious cop problem that has to be addressed.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 08:36 am
No doubt about it: the cops shoot too many people of all ethnic backgrounds. But they do shoot PoC at a higher rate.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 08:43 am
0 Replies
mark noble
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 08:43 am
@bobsal u1553115,
When it's DRUMMED into you - Your next arrest may be your last arrest. (Fatality incurred).
WTF do you expect?
Stop blaming the police for being ****-SCARED of not seeing tomorrow, their families, kids, etc.
Think about it, dipshit.
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 08:52 am
@mark noble,
Whats with your nastiness, anyway????????

Garbage collectors are more likely to die on the job than police patrol officers

Police officers run to disperse demonstrators during a protest against the G20 Pittsburgh Summit in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania September 24, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
It sure looks like it's dangerous work (Reuters/Carlos Barria)
Written by
Gwynn Guilford
May 24, 2015


This weekend, Americans will remember their fallen soldiers, a holiday traditionally observed with barbecues and the Indianapolis 500 car race. The US military isn’t the only industry that often asks the ultimate sacrifice of its workers. Some 4,585 American civilians died in the line of duty in 2013, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (pdf). Certain jobs in particular are alarmingly risky:

Strangely, police patrol officer—a job the American public commonly recognizes as one of the riskiest gigs around—doesn’t even break the top 15.

Some might find this surprising. The mortal risks of police work has gotten more air time of late, thanks to debates around the Aug. 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, as well as a slew of other controversial police killings of unarmed black men. Defenders of the deadly force used in those cases often invoke the daily dangers of police work. It also comes up to justify police departments’ growing embrace of military gear.

This isn’t to say that cops don’t, as US president Barack Obama recently said, “risk their own safety for ours every single day.” Still, the data do defy the conventional wisdom that policing is one of the country’s most dangerous jobs.

Though 2013’s fatality rate is lower than past years, it’s not exactly an aberration. The annual average from 2006 to 2013 is about 15.8 deaths per 100,000 police patrol officers. Even the number of deaths itself undermines the notion that hundreds of cops are murdered in the line of duty each year, as New York’s police commissioner recently stated. That’s not even close to accurate:



Of course, it’s possible that BLS’s data is off. The 79 on-the-job cop deaths it recorded is lower than the 107 and 117 fatalities that other organizations documented for 2013. Even using those data, though, police officers are less likely than taxi drivers to be killed in the line of duty.


Of course, this doesn’t mean being a cop is exactly safe. The mortality risk they brave is still many times higher than the 3.3 deaths per 100,000 that full-time American workers face overall. It’s also a heck of a lot higher than that for journalists, a job so sheltered it doesn’t even merit its own category on the list.
mark noble
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 08:58 am
@bobsal u1553115,
I'm not being nasty.
Live a day as a cop in the Usa - Before you slag them off.
I'm not defending them, or you.
Your social-system is fu****d, not the people who are BOUND to it.

When you build upon psychotic-foundations - Psychotic begets the NORM.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 16 Jul, 2016 09:24 am
@bobsal u1553115,
0 Replies
bobsal u1553115
Reply Sun 17 Jul, 2016 07:32 am

How We Wrongly Learn to Love White Men With Guns

We learn to see white men— and especially white men with guns—as the definition of American, and those most deserving of our empathy.
By Imraan Siddiqi / The Establishment
July 15, 2016

Millions of Americans watched videos online last week which showed police officers being shot and killed in Dallas. The terrifying attack was carried out by a lone gunman who was apparently targeting “white officers.” In subsequent coverage of the violence, which resulted in the death of five people, many news outlets described the events of the night as “shocking.”

There’s no doubt that these videos stood out as such, given how many were moved to respond to the violence. The National Rifle Association made a statement honoring the “heroism” of the police, mainstream media outlets widely shared the sympathetic life stories of the officers killed, and a national outpouring of sorrow led some teachers to ask children to “wear blue” to school in remembrance of the victims.

When two Black men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, died at the hands of the police earlier in the week, many of those same news outlets used the word “shocking” to describe that footage of violence. But it’s worth asking: Did these videos truly have that effect? The NRA didn’t make a statement then, mainstream media was less focused on championing the victims’ lives, and we didn’t see a similar national embrace of Black families. While there were certainly protests and even a Presidential response to the videos, they were not rooted in the same sense of appall.

It’s not difficult to discern why reactions to these violent episodes differed. We are not accustomed to watching the killing of police officers and white people, two groups for whom being indiscriminately murdered is statistically abnormal. In fact, the death of five officers in Dallas made it the deadliest day for police in the U.S. since September 11th . Conversely, as Ezekiel Ekewu wrote for MTV last week, grainy videos of Black people being killed by the police are not out of the ordinary in 2016. They are very much commonplace.

Indeed, Sterling and Castile join a long list of names — and montage of images — of Black people we’ve become familiar with as a result of viral videos capturing their final moments of life,  videos which are played over and over again on our Facebook timelines and then again and again in our heads for weeks afterwards.

It’s much stranger for us to see white people in uniform — normally the ones holding the weapons — being directly attacked. A day before the attack in Dallas, another clip of a white man being shot, this time by the police themselves, also circulated online, though not quite as widely. The footage of 19-year-old Dylan Noble being killed in Fresno, while lying on the ground, was also described by some in the media as “shocking.” Yet perhaps because police were still holding the guns there, it didn’t quite shake us in the same way.

Generally, a white person being executed on camera is not a common sight on our Twitter feeds. But sniper attacks on police officers are rarer still, and thus particularly unsettling for many (even if we might be accustomed to such scenes in foreign countries).

This isn’t to say that intentional attacks on these groups never happen, but that they’re not images we’re used to seeing in America. In fact, while we are conditioned from very early on to view Black people in the context of criminality, rather than in the context of humanizing love or joy, we learn to see white men— and especially white men with guns—as the definition of American, and those most deserving of our empathy.


Clips of Black life dehumanized — dismissed and discarded by those in power — are mirrored by the images we commonly see of Black people in popular media. As others have pointed out, there’s a direct line from the videotaped murder of Sterling to the lynching postcards of the past, or to newspaper photographs of Emmett Till in 1954.

We also see echoes of these images in less overt ways every day. This includes the images on the biggest screen — Hollywood cinema — where we’re more likely to see Black people in distress, or creating distress, than we are to see them in joy, or expressing love (if, of course, we even see them at all).

A quick scan of the year’s most successful films proves as much, with only the occasional children’s film or Kevin Hart vehicle breaking through a sea of whiteness. This is not to say that Black people don’t appear in other top movies — including this year’s #1 live-action hit, Captain America: Civil War — but that they aren’t centered, and thus aren’t given the majority of our attention or empathy.

When we examine this further, it means Black people on camera are not often in situations which might explicitly counter the fear, danger, and violence of the recorded deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, or dozens of others the public has now witnessed.

In a 2011 study titled “Media Representations and Impact on the Lives of Black Men and Boys,” researchers found that more often than not, when we do see Black men in “positive” roles on screen, they still “tend to be associated with a relatively limited range of qualities, such as physical ability and/or entertainment skills.”

We’re more likely, in fact, to have in our memories an entire history of media images associating Black people with crime, violence, and demeaning pity, from Birth of a Nation to the Rodney King beating to Precious. These are the same associations which led people to wrongfully accuse a random Black man of being a suspect in the Dallas shooting and to “congratulate” a successful Black actress for being able to fly first class last month. And they’re why we so easily ignore the epidemic of violence against Black trans women.

That 2011 study of media representations concluded that “a consumer of most of American media can hardly help thinking of black males in terms of problems.” In her 2014 essay, writer Jade Davis went further, saying “the moment we see a black guy on our screen — any screen — we expect him to die.”

Meanwhile, images of white people in love — embracing, kissing, laughing together — are completely normalized. Search Google for “people in love” and it’s almost exclusively white couples. Every one of the entries on the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Romantic Comedies of all time list stars straight white people. This is so commonplace in our culture that it becomes ingrained in us from childhood — that love looks a certain way.

While it’s also true that white men are the majority of villains on screen — after all, they are the majority of everything on screen — the fact remains that nearly every popular hero throughout the history of cinema has been a straight white man. And that means we’ve been taught that not only are white men more likely to be deserving of love, but that they are more likely to have “good” intentions — more likely to want to protect us from harm.

We’ve been taught that white men are the solutions to our problems. In the AFI list of the 50 greatest movie heroes of all time, published in 2003, only one Black man was named — In the Heat of the Night’s Virgil Tibbs. In a 2012 list of the “100 Greatest Movie Characters,” voted by readers of Empire, only three Black men are listed, and no Black women made the cut.

Furthermore, the vast majority of the heroes on these lists are men like James Bond and Indiana Jones — those who use violence to keep us safe; who brandish weapons to serve and protect. Even when mainstream media does find Black heroes to celebrate — like Tibbs or Pulp Fiction’s Jules Winnfield — they also tend to be straight men in uniform or defined by hyper-masculinity.

Military veteran Roy Scranton recently wrote an essay for The New York Times titled “Star Wars and the Fantasy of American Violence,” in which he discusses the mythic qualities our culture assigns to the military and “the story” we tell ourselves about this fascination with violence.

This is the predominant story of Hollywood: A good man with a gun is what protects us from “evil,” and his actions represent who we are as Americans. It’s one of our favorite narratives at the movies, from How the West Was Won to Guardians of the Galaxy.And even when the antagonists on screen are the police — which happens occasionally — the hero is typically another man who believes in violence as righteous justice. Thus we become extremely practiced in putting ourselves in the shoes of these types of men.

In this context, it makes sense that to see police officers attacked — especially by a shooter who is Black—scares us (especially if we are white), because it flips the popular and founding story of this country. It shocks our sense of security. To see a Black man in the same position, though, is far less likely to stir us. To see a police officer break down in tears after his colleague is killed, as we saw in Dallas, is more likely to cause many Americans to well up with emotion, than to see a 15-year-old Black boy, or his mother, break down on camera after the murder of Alton Sterling.

This is because we have been trained to feel extreme empathy for the men in blue, or any straight white man trying to “do good,” but have been asked to feel very little empathy for Black people, especially those being confronted by white men with guns.

In his essay, Scranton goes on to describe how, as a soldier in Iraq, he learned to view himself and the brown-skinned enemies he was attacking in the context of that Hollywood-American story:

“I was both caught up in that myth and released from it: I could see what ‘the work of peace’ really looked like, what American violence did to Iraqi homes and bodies, yet it remained my job to be an agent of that violence . . . ”

Cinema and popular media’s long history of such images — of lynchings, foreign wars, fire-hosing, beatings, police killings — collectively and overwhelmingly puts violent white people in the position of “hero” and people of color in the position of “enemy.”

In order to challenge a lifetime of learning to center white lives and seeing violence as good, we need to see — recondition ourselves with — images of Black people who are not just killing or being killed. We need to see a celebration of Black love on the biggest and smallest screens, too, including in white and other non-Black communities. We need more Lemonade, #CareFreeBlackKids2k16, and Timbuktu.

This doesn’t mean representations need to be perfect, or that they should avoid tragedy, but that Black people, especially women, deserve to be seen more often as just human — happy, angry, sad, and alive.


The distorted visuals of white supremacy not only teach non-black folks to see Black people in a fearful light, but affect Black people themselves— including children like four-year-old Dae’Anna, who sat calmly in the backseat of the car while her mother’s boyfriend Philando Castile was murdered. Children grow up learning a certain picture of criminality, violence, and heroism. They watch blockbusters, experience trauma, look in the mirror, and learn to associate some meaning with their skin color.

Cinema has an opportunity to show them truer reflections of their value. If media has played a role in telling the story of America—however flawed the current tale is—it can play a role in changing it, to move it away from the violence of the police and the military, and toward the love expressed by women like Dae’Anna’s mother ,  Diamond “Lavish” Reynolds.

If our films could tell more complete stories about Black women, we might one day create the context for all Americans to recognize that Reynolds was among the great heroes we saw on camera last week—a Black woman, without a gun or uniform, who had the courage to livestream her boyfriend’s death at the hands of the police, in the face of certain danger. She calmly brought the world’s attention to the injustice happening right next to her — taking action to make us all a bit safer.

Yet the fact that some still viewed her with suspicion, questioning her motives in that harrowing moment with the police, is evidence enough of how much reeducation is needed. It’s a reminder of how deeply ingrained the story of heroic white American violence, and “good guys with guns,” is embedded in our minds — and how often it is retold.

Read more at The Establishment, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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