sommers1_Stephen MaturenGetty Images_usprotestgeorgefloyd Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

America’s Mis-Police State

The mass protests sweeping the United States following the death of George Floyd are born of many factors, but chiefly reflect frustration and rage at America's long history of racist law enforcement. Addressing that problem will require reducing the pressures on both urban communities and those tasked with policing them.

MILWAUKEE – George Floyd’s death at the hands – and under the knee – of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has triggered a wave of peaceful protests and violent rioting in most major cities across the United States. Caught on video for the world to see, the incident has driven home the perception that African-Americans are excluded from America’s grand narrative of progress, in which conditions supposedly improve over time.

The data bear out that perception. According to a recent Brookings Institution study, as of 2016, “the net worth of a typical white family is nearly ten times greater than that of a Black family.” And though the US accounts for just 5% of the global population, it is home to 21% of the world’s incarcerated people, one-third of whom are African-American.

Scarcely a week goes by without a new story about African-Americans dying at the hands of police or vigilantes. Each episode is met with media handwringing and calls for reforms of police procedures. But the problem is never resolved, in part because it is actually many problems.

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