According to the Washington Post, which began tracking police shootings in 2015, the cops have killed more than 5,600 people nationwide. Of those, 24 percent were Black Americans (about 1,300) and 247 were women. Forty-eight of those were Black women. This may sound small, but consider what Marissa Iati, Jennifer Jenkins and Sommer Brugal write in “Fatal Force,” “Since 2015, Black women have accounted for less than 1 percent of the overall fatal shootings in cases where race was known. But within this small subset, Black women, who are 13 percent of the female population, account for 20 percent of the women shot and killed and 28 percent of the unarmed deaths.” (Comparatively, “Black men, 12 percent of the male population, make up 27 percent of the men shot and 36 percent of the unarmed deaths.”) This is shattering.
Statistics say, cops are murdering us all, so it is incumbent upon us to talk about it. Appropriately, there has been more of a push for more media exposure of cases of police violence against women. One consistent advocate has been the African American Policy Forum, most notably, through their social campaign #SayHerName, created to highlight Black girls’ and women’s stories likely to be ignored. From traffic stops to incarceration, Black women are more likely to be sexually harassed and assaulted by white police officers. Here are a few of the less widely know cases and, more importantly, women who were lynched.
On November 21, 2006, Kathryn Johnston, 92, was fatally shot six times during a botched drug raid in Atlanta, Ga. The undercover narcotics unit entered with a no-knock warrant, using a false claim that they’d purchased cocaine at her residence. Scared for her life, Johnston fires a rusty revolver at the plainly clothed officers, and, in return, they shot 39 rounds and handcuffed her as she was dying. All of the officers involved were given plea deals for five to 10 years in federal prison, yet the city of Atlanta still uses no-knock warrants. We must Say Her Name because no one deserves to live to 92-years-old only to be killed by the police.