Data, Justice, and Police Brutality
Accurate data is crucial in understanding structural issues, including the impact of police brutality and abuse of power. We are compiling data, resources, and other useful tools for those interested in learning more about the issue. This page will be regularly updated.
We would like to highlight that unlike the US, Canada does not release racial information on police-involved deaths. Please sign this petition urging the Attorney General to do so.
At the bottom of the page, you will find suggestions and information on how to help. The best and most comprehensive information is provided by Black Lives Matter Canada.
Canada: Understanding the Issue
"Police officers can’t serve and protect people that they fear or see as inferior. And Black and Indigenous Canadians should not have to fear mistreatment or death at the hands of people who are supposed to keep them safe."
More than one-third of people shot to death over a decade by RCMP officers were Indigenous by Colin Freeze for The Globe & Mail.
"Criminologists says that data deficit is unfortunate, because previous studies have shown that Indigenous people are seriously injured or fatally shot by police in Canada – and not just by the RCMP – at much higher rates than other groups."
Black people more likely to be injured or killed by Toronto Police officers, report finds by Molly Hayes for The Globe & Mail.
"While black people made up only 8.8 per cent of Toronto’s population in 2016, the report found they were involved in seven out of 10 cases of fatal shootings by police during the latter period."
Racial profiling: Mayor shocked, Montreal police 'humbled' by new report by Jesse Feith for the Montreal Gazette.
"Despite stopping short of admitting racial profiling by its officers, the Montreal police force says it’s humbled by a new report showing black, Indigenous and Arab people are far more likely to be stopped by police in the city."
17 years of police violence in Canada, an interactive blog post by Pivot Legal Society using data from Deadly Force CBC (also linked above).
Report: POLICE USE OF FORCE IN ONTARIO: An Examination of Data from the Special Investigations Unit, a project conducted for the African Canadian Legal Clinic. The report discusses police subculture, racist bias within the police, and suggestions for an anti-racist strategy.
Report: POLICE-INVOLVED DEATHS: THE NEED FOR REFORM, by the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association published in 2012. The report makes apparent the need for change almost ten years ago. In 2020, there is still a lack of data on police-involved deaths in Canada.
News piece: A timeline of police violence against people of colour in Quebec, by Jesse Feith for the Montreal Gazette.
Data & Reports
A Timeline of U.S. Police Protests, by Marie Patino and Linda Poon in CityLab.
"The following is a timeline of major protests in response to police brutality, especially instances where officers remained in their jobs or weren’t held accountable for violent or fatal arrests. These demonstrations are part of a broader movement against systemic racism in America, and don’t include the killings of people such as Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin by fellow civilians."
Caught on camera, police explode in rage and violence across the US, by TC Sottek in The Verge.
"Any one of the videos we’ve seen could have sparked a national discussion, with people picking apart their elements, searching for context to argue about, and digging through the pasts of everyone involved. But it’s not just one act of violence. It’s everywhere."
How racist policing took over American cities, explained by a historian, by Anna North (interviewing Khalil Muhammad) in Vox.
"In the process of compiling the report, white experts also testified that 'the police are systematically engaging in racial bias when they’re targeting black suspects,' Muhammad said. The report 'should have been the death of systemic police racism and discrimination in America.' That was in 1922."
American Police, Khalil Muhammad on NPR Throughline.
Paper: The logic of the slave patrol: the fantasy of black predatory violence and the use of force by the police. (2019) Laurence Ralph in Nature.
Database: Police shootings by the Washington Post. Similar to Fatal Encounters, the WP began to collect all police shootings to create a comprehensive database. Within the last year, 1,039 people have been shot by the police in the US.
Paper: Risk of being killed by police use of force in the United States - by age, race-ethnicity, and sex. (2019) by Frank Edwards, Hedwig Lee, and Michael Esposito in PNAS.
Paper: Police Violence, Use of Force Policies, and Public Health. (2017) by Osagie K. Obasogie and Zachary Newman in the American Journal of Law & Medicine.
Data & Reports
Campaigns and Further Reading
A conversation between 8 Can't Wait and 8 To Abolition. The former campaign, created by activist Deray McKesson and Campaign Zero, puts forth eight methods of police reform. In direct response, abolitionists including @sheabutterfemme created the latter campaign which instead offers eight goals of police and prison abolition.
Lawsuits.org, Scraping Court Records Data to Find Dirty Cops. "While it might not be possible to prevent predictive policing from being employed by the criminal justice system, perhaps there are ways we can create a more level playing field: One where the powers of big data analysis aren’t just used to predict crime, but also are used to police law enforcement themselves."
National Resource and Education Tool (US) created by NYU student Alexis Williams. The website has information on victims of police brutality, podcasts, resources, and information on how to support Black Trans Lives. All ad revenue will be donated, an amazing way a student coder is using her skills to support the BLM movement.
Ethics, Society, and Computing (ESC), a centre "dedicated to intervening when digital media and computing technologies reproduce inequality, exclusion, corruption, deception, racism, or sexism."
Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present by Robyn Maynard
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
When Police Kill by Franklin Zimring
Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color by Andrea J. Ritchie
The End of Policing by Alex S. Vitale
Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin
Ways to Help
Show Up to Protests (If You Can)
Attending a protest means showing your support and demanding change with your presence. It is important to know how to protest safely, as well as observing proper social distancing and mask-wearing. Make sure to do your research on who is organizing protests - the best source for this is your local BLM chapter. Those who are vulnerable to COVID-19 can find alternatives to physical protests, such as online activism.
Social media is a great way to let your peers, friends, and family know where you stand. There are many activists on Instagram and Twitter, often creating educational resources and shareable material. We would like to note that an initiative called #ShareTheMicNow will happen on June 9th, where Black women will post on the accounts of white women. For instance, actress Sarah Paulson will be giving her Instagram to activist Rachel Cargle. The goal of #ShareTheMicNow is to amplify the voices of Black women, who have been silenced and ignored.
Petition signing is also important, as petitions of a certain threshold must be reviewed by government bodies (the exact requirements change from place to place). BLM Canada has a number of petitions that are looking for to meet certain goals, as does the US counterpart.
If you are able, donating is one of the most tangible ways you can help. Again, BLM Canada has comprehensive information on donating monetarily and its alternatives. To note, the Minnesota Freedom Fund has met its goal and is asking that donations be directed elsewhere.
Listen & Learn
Directed to non-Black and non-Indigenous folks. As the articles and resources above show, police brutality and violence is not new -- it is intricately linked to slavery, racism, and colonization. Black and Indigenous people both in the US and Canada have talked about, organized, and protested these injustices for many decades now.