Genocidal Realities

Philadelphia Police Shoot Almost 400 People in Eight Years—Mostly Black Men

March 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. The word “genocide” comes from the ancient root words “genos” (people) and “cide” (killing)—according to the UN, genocide is the deliberation imposition on a national, ethnic, racial or religious group of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.


In the past eight years, Philadelphia police opened fire on someone almost 400 times—about once a week—according to findings of a just-released report from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The 390 shootings involved 454 officers. And overwhelmingly... yes, you might have guessed, overwhelmingly the targets of those police shootings were Black men.

Black people accounted for 81 percent of those shot by the Philly police, and their average age was 20. Fifty-nine unarmed people were fatally shot over this period, and half of the unarmed people were shot because the cops claimed they saw something (like a cell phone) or some action (like a person pulling at the waist of his pants)—and then used that as justification for firing.

These statistics are stark and point to a pattern: the targeting of young Black men for use of deadly force by the Philadelphia police. And this is part of a larger pattern of a genocidal program in this country aimed at Black and Latino people. But the DOJ report itself says nothing about the blatantly racist targeting of Black people—about the fact that the Philadelphia police have basically declared open season on young Black men. And the fact that 34 percent of the cops involved in the shootings were Black, or that the Philadelphia police chief is African-American, does not “take race out of the equation”—it shows that more Black police is not the answer to police murdering and brutalizing Black people.

3/19/15: People refuse to accept lies and police murder at "town hall meeting" Philadelphia

As outrageous are the stats revealed by the DOJ report, this just scratches the surface. The record of cop crimes against the people of Philadelphia is a long one. Just to name a few: In 1985 the cops dropped a bomb on the house of the radical Black nationalist group MOVE. The house was allowed to burn and six adults and five children were killed. There have been recent videos of cops punching and beating people. Last December, 26-year-old Brandon Tate-Brown was stopped by a Philly cop for driving with his headlights off. He ended up dead. The cop said Tate was reaching for a gun. Tate, of course, is not alive to dispute this story—the same story that lets so many other cops off after they kill a Black man.

The targeting of Black people by the Philly police is NOT a unique situation. This is what is happening in cities and towns ALL OVER this country. What’s new is that since the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, people have been taking to the streets to say NO to the epidemic of police murder and brutality of Black and Latino people going on in the USA.

The DOJ report on the Philadelphia Police Department comes on the heels of two recent DOJ reports on Ferguson. One let out a small sliver of truth about the widespread, pervasive, systematic, and inescapable racism that permeates the town of Ferguson and every branch of its government. But then this was wrapped in another DOJ report—with a big lie, basically saying that Michael Brown caused his own death and exonerating the murdering cop Darren Wilson.

So in light of its findings on the Philadelphia Police Department, did the DOJ recommend a stop to racial profiling and unjust shooting of unarmed Black men? NO. The Justice Department simply called on the department to be “more forthcoming with details” about the shootings, publish annual data, appoint an independent investigator... blah, blah, blah.

Bullshit to their “conversations,” “reports,” and “transparency”! Like the people in Philly who righteously disrupted a recent “community meeting” held by the police chief to try to justify why yet another cop is not being charged for shooting a Black person, more and more people need to be saying, “We ain’t having this shit!”


Volunteers Needed... for and Revolution

Send us your comments.

If you like this article, subscribe, donate to and sustain Revolution newspaper.