This Report is the product of a year of research and questioning that was initially prompted by the killing of Trayvon Martin, February 26, 2012. Since then, we have verified that at least 313 Black children, women and men have been killed by those employed or protected by the government. By international human rights standards, these killings are extrajudicial because they were executions without the formal charges, trials, or jury deliberations of due process. The Report also documents the militarization of police forces – equipping and training peace officers for war, rather than for protecting and serving communities.
Age: 66% were young people under 32 years old—with 40% of the 313 in the range of 22-31.
Geography: The Report presents a map of states and a table of cities where extrajudicial killings are prevalent. Police in Chicago, New York and Atlanta kill the largest numbers of Black people. When the total number of Black people in each city is taken into account, the highest rates of extrajudicial killing occur in places such as Atlanta, Birmingham (AL), New Orleans, and Saginaw (MI).
How the deadly encounters began:
- - 19% began with calls to 9-1-1 for help with emotionally-disturbed household members.
- - 43% began with some form of racial profiling that singled out the “suspect” for appearing, behaving or driving suspiciously.
- - 7% began with calls to 9-1-1 for assistance in situations of domestic violence or abuse.
- - 7% died as “innocent bystanders”
- - 24% began with police investigating activity defined as “criminal” in the given state.
The issue of arms: Press releases by police and media often justify killing “suspects” by simply stating that they were armed. Yet it is legal to carry guns, even unregistered ones, in most states. Forty-four per cent of suspects had no weapon at all at the time they were killed. 20% did possess guns. The armed status of the remaining suspects involved cutting implements or was in dispute.
How police “justify” shootings: The us-and-them mentality of militarized police, layered with white supremacy, creates an “enemy” who is semi-human, demonized and feared. One consequence is that 47% of the extrajudicial killers shot because “they felt threatened”. An additional 22% “justified” their killings with more specific versions of “feeling threatened” like “suspect lunged” or “reached for waistband”. 14% of “suspects” fled (many of whom were shot in the back). All these “justifications” for shooting-to-kill share the officer’s sense of feeling out-of-control. Only 13% of the suspects are alleged, in fact, to have fired weapons.
Killing with Impunity: Ninety of the Black people who were killed seem to have been forgotten after a brief police press release announcing their deaths. Out of the 250 homicides committed by police that clearly involved excessive force, only 3% (8) officers were charged. Out of the 25 killings by security guards and vigilantes, 15 were charged.
Other Features of the Report
- Memorial pages dedicated to the 313 who were killed.
- FAQ’s that answer questions about the meaning and development of “Operation Ghetto Storm”, the name of the Report; about our sources and the reliability of the data; about “Black-on-Black” killing; about comparisons with white killing; and about women.
We offer this Summary as a convenient reference to our quantitative findings. It cannot substitute for reading the Report.