• Parker Beauregard

How Do Other Death Rates Compare to Nine Unarmed Blacks?

In 2019, there were 9 unarmed black men killed by police. Overall, there were just under 250 blacks killed by police in the same year (compared to just under 400 whites), and despite 19 unarmed whites being shot and killed, it is really the rallying cry of Black Lives Matter and other activist groups to suggest brutality occurs when it is an unarmed black specifically that is killed.

Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Eric Garner, and George Floyd all have four things in common, three of which get reported: they were black, they were considered unarmed, and they were subsequently killed by police in the interactions that ensued. That they resisted arrest is a matter the media and the Left would rather not discuss, but it is a shared feature nonetheless. 

To be sure, the commonality of resistance doesn’t make their demise any less tragic, but it does raise an obvious question: Would they be alive if they complied with the police? In a recent article combing through the Chicago police department’s statistics, officers had to use additional force (tasers, spray, batons, firearms) just over 300 times in 2018, the year the data was compiled, even though they made over 85,000 arrests. It does not take much brain power to wonder why we don’t hear about 84,700 arrests annually in the Windy City. 

The continuous narrative of police brutality got us wondering. How does the number nine, if indeed it is the barometer for brutality, compare to other areas of unlikely yet real mortality. Of course, through this study we would somehow have to disregard the obvious reality that more unarmed whites are killed, and that of all police killings just 25% of them are black (meaning 75% of lethal force deaths are not black). Still, that’s the narrative, so let’s compare it.

In colloquial phraseology, we often compare the odds of something happening to being struck by lightning. Why? Because it is rare, exceedingly so. According to the National Weather service, between the years 2009-2018 there were an average of 27 lightning strike deaths annually. Given all of our advanced warning systems and greater knowledge about safety in storms, even that seems high. Would you believe three times as many people die by freak lightning strikes than they do as unarmed blacks by police? 

Then there is skydiving, a notoriously exhilarating and fear-inducing escapade. In 2019, there were 15 fatalities out of 3.3 million total jumps.  In the past decade the average has been closer to about twenty deaths per year, so a little higher but still extremely low. The risk of death, about 1/250,000 is an acceptable risk for most that undertake the leap. According to the United States Parachute Association, statistically speaking, “a person is much more likely to be struck by lighting” than killed while skydiving.”

Aviation is another field with a large denominator (number of passengers, similar to number of police engagements) and a minuscule numerator (number of deaths). Aviation, by all measures, is one of the safest ways to travel. The FAA recorded 16 million flights in 2019 in the United States, a rough estimate at best given the scale of general aviation and the protocol of not filing flight records for smaller planes. It is likely higher. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, the millions of flights that flew recorded nearly 1 billion commercial passengers. Of those 16 million flights, there were a total of 11 fatal crashes, totaling the loss of 19 lives

Recreational boating is an almost unanimous pleasure sport. No known number exists as to the number of boats available for recreation or how frequently each boat is used, but boat registrations (new and renewed) average anywhere between 10-12 million per year. In 2018, there were 13 deaths from towed water sports (i.e. tubing, skiing, etc.) and 10 from fishing.

Finally, another interesting data point is the overall safety of the smallpox vaccine. Aside from the selfish anti-vax crowd, a plurality of Americans choose to inoculate their children to protect against the preventable diseases that historically contributed to higher infant mortality and shorter lifespans in general. The benefits of an individual vaccination eventually lead to widespread community protection. Despite its near-universal acceptance and use, we must tolerate imperfection. The smallpox vaccine, for all its glorious work, still averages a tiny death rate of one death per million initial administrations. 

At those odds, no decent parent declines the vaccine. Still, because the United States delivers almost four million babies each year, that means in a given year we could expect four babies to succumb to vaccination complications. No one hears about the four innocent babies, who through no individual decisions of their own, were vaccinated and suffered the terrible consequence, and yet we are inundated with messages of racist policing that resulted in the deaths of nine unarmed blacks, nearly all of whom were engaged in willful unlawfulness.

At 4 deaths from smallpox vaccines, no one turns into an anti-vaxxer. At 19 aviation deaths, no one stops flying. At 27 lightning deaths, no one stops going outside. Even at 13 deaths from towed water sports, no one stops boating. And here we are, with 9 unarmed black deaths, and again it must be added that unarmed does not mean not dangerous, society is being forced to bend to the will of the mob tyranny. 

No doubt, some of these protesters, in their sanctimonious and self-righteous rage, also feel superior to normal people while driving and thus conduct themselves in a manner that is faster than their fellow travelers. It would behoove them to know that the act of speeding while driving - irregardless of the legal speed limit, just the act of speeding relative to the posted legal speed - results in 10,000 unnecessary deaths each year on American roads. While those of you out there are decrying the loss of nine mostly unlawful and criminal individuals, or even the totality of 250 black fatalities by police, think about the 10,000 innocent drivers and passengers put to death by intentional speeding. Before you protest again, maybe reconsider what really constitutes a deadly epidemic.

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