By Hector Villagra, @OHectorV
So far this year, police in the United States have killed 970 people. The number of people killed by police in Germany and the United Kingdom combined is two. To be sure, the U.S. population is larger than that of Germany and the U.K.—about 2.5 times larger—but not hundreds of times larger.
We are in the midst of a crisis. But it’s not just about deadly policing. It’s about deadly and biased policing. People of color make up less than 38 percent of the population but a startling two-thirds of the unarmed people killed by police. This year police have shot and killed an unarmed black man every five days, according to a running tally in the Guardian newspaper. Each death shows just how painfully far our nation remains from equality and brings us back to the same crossroads.
Are we going to accept a deeply divided nation where only some can trust the police? Are we willing to accept that growing up black in this country too often means being vulnerable to the brutality of racism, even by police? The answer should be clear. We cannot remain coldly silent and ignore what is happening.
Quentin Tarantino has decided that he will not be silent or ignore what is happening. He has spoken out, as is his right, in the strongest terms against the biased policing that has led to this sickening tide of fatalities. Organizations representing police officers immediately distorted Mr. Tarantino’s comments, suggesting he was referring to all officers and calling him a “cop hater.” Police unions, as is their right, have called for a boycott of Mr. Tarantino’s films.
The ACLU of Southern California stands with Mr. Tarantino and supports his condemnation of those police officers who have killed unarmed citizens who pose no threat. He has given voice to the frustrations of millions of Americans who stand for justice, and we raise our voice with his, speaking up as we have for decades to make it very clear that we condemn not the police, but police brutality and challenge the conspiracy of silence around police abuse.
Hector Villagra is executive director of the ACLU of Southern California. Follow @ACLU_SoCal on Twitter.