A Yahoo! News story published today equates concerns about police brutality, the militarization of law enforcement and videotaping cops with wanting to carry out violent murders of police officers.
In a piece entitled Online rants, anti-government radicals fuel fear of U.S. cop killings, Senior National Reporter for Yahoo! Jason Sickles cites the murders of Las Vegas police officers Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo last month to make the case that there is “an exploding right-wing movement” which is “creating anxiety about attacks against police.”
Sickles notes that cop killer Jerad Miller posted of his intention to murder law enforcement officers on a Facebook page belonging to Cop Block, an organization that encourages citizens to document examples of police brutality. The fact that the organization has over 780,000 Facebook fans, all but one of whom have never murdered a police officer, doesn’t prevent Sickles from honing in on the group as being partly responsible for the deaths of Beck and Soldo.
After spending almost the entire article equating the murders with Cop Block, Sickles then notes that the organization, “encourages the public to submit home videos, photos and stories of rogue officers for discussion.”
The hit piece then broadens out into the wider implication that concerns expressed online about, “the economic crisis, proposed gun control, Barack Obama’s election, NSA spying and the militarization of police,” are intimately connected with violent extremism and attacks against police officers.
The article makes no mention whatsoever of the innumerable examples in recent years of police officers murdering citizens, which far outnumber fatal attacks by citizens against cops.
Sickles fails to cite the case of Kelly Thomas, a homeless man who was pummeled into a coma as he begged for his life during an incident in 2011. The Fullerton, California police officers responsible for his murder were acquitted.
The article also omits a more recent case involving 38-year-old James Boyd, who was executed by Albuquerque Police Department officers for the crime of camping illegally on a remote hill. The Albuquerque Police Department alone has been responsible for murdering 26 people since 2010, many of them mentally disabled, a statistic which didn’t stop the department from recently acquiring 350 assault rifles.
The number of Americans killed by police in the United States now outnumbers the amount of U.S. troops killed in Iraq. Over 5,000 Americans have been killed by cops since 9/11, a figure that suggests,”Americans should be more fearful of the local cops than “terrorists,” writes Katie Rucke.
To illustrate the sheer scale of the violent threat posed to the public by police officers, in cities like Seattle, 20% of all homicides are carried out by cops.
According to a recent ACLU investigation, the excessive militarization of American policing, which has contributed to cops treating citizens “like wartime enemies,” has contributed to a huge increase in injuries and deaths.
In comparison, although 2014 saw a spike, the general trend shows that police officers themselves have never been safer in the line of duty, with the number of cops killed by citizens dropping to a 50 year low back in January.
These statistics, none of which were included in Sickles’ smear piece, clearly illustrate that police officers pose a far deadlier violent threat to the American people than vice versa. That doesn’t justify violence against cops, but it does underscore the fact that concerns about police brutality are rooted in a very real problem and cannot be blamed on politically driven arguments about anti-government extremism as Sickles attempts to portray in his factually bankrupt hit piece.