Data: Black people in Pa. are more than 5 times as likely as whites to be killed by police | Tuesday Morning Coffee

June 1, 2021 7:21 am
Black Lives Matter protesters march outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol on Sunday, 6/7/20 (Capital-Star photo by John L. Micek)

Black Lives Matter protesters march outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol on Sunday, June 7, 2020 (Capital-Star photo).

Good Tuesday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

Black Pennsylvanians were 5.4 times as likely to be killed by police than the state’s white residents between 2013 and 2020, according to new data compiled by the Mapping Police Violence Project.

And while Black Pennsylvanians make up 11 percent of the state’s population of nearly 13 million people, they accounted 33 percent of the 192 fatalities involving law enforcement officers during that seven-year window.

In the state’s two, largest cities, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, 25 Black people and 7 Black people respectively were killed by police between 2013 and 2020, the data showed. In total, 40 people and 8 people were respectively killed during interactions with police in those two cities during the report’s window.

The data’s release came amid observances of the one-year anniversary of the death of George Floyd, a Black man from Minneapolis whose death at the hands of white police officers on May 25, 2020 sparked a historic wave of civil rights protests and a nationwide debate over how police departments use deadly force and the disparate ways in which it is deployed.

Despite that debate, and the increased public focus, 439 people have been killed by police nationwide in the first five months of 2021, according to the the Mapping Police Violence Project’s data.

(Capital-Star file)

Last week, during a news conference marking the anniversary of Floyd’s death, members of Pennsylvania’s Legislative Black Caucus continued to press the case for a package of police reform bills that would, among other things, ban chokeholds and provide for special prosecutors in police deadly force cases.

Lawmakers’ call for accountability and reform shouldn’t be “used to inflate budgets,” but should, instead, be “heard and included in discussions, not diluted, ignored and waved off,” the Black Caucus’ chairperson, Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Philadelphia, said in a statement.

“We marched, we prayed, we demanded, and we saw some change,” Bullock continued. “Yet, we still have work to do.”

Rep. Jake Wheatley, a Pittsburgh Democrat, added that the “work of our advocates, community members and families of those killed has pushed the legislative process to the point that we are [at] today. And now, we as members of the General Assembly must do more to address police brutality.”

Here’s a list of the caucus-sponsored reform bills now before the General Assembly:

  • H.B. 1086 (Reps. Donna Bullock and Brian Sims, both Philadelphia Democrats) – Require police officers statewide to have their badge, with pertinent identifiable information, visible at all times, without exception.
  • H.B. package 1198, 1199 (Reps. Ed Gainey, D-Allegheny, and Morgan Cephas, D-Philadelphia: False Reports to Law Enforcement package.
  • H.B. 533 (Rep. Austin Davis, D-Allegheny): Citizens Police Review Board.
  • H.B. 870 (Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia): Banning chokeholds and positional asphyxia by law enforcement.
  • H.B. 626 (Reps. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny and Davis): Transparency in recording law enforcement.
  • H.B. 676 (Sims and Rep. Summer Lee, D-Allegheny): Special prosecutor for police deadly force cases
  • S.B. 45 (Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Philadelphia): Create a more explicit and just standard for the use of force by police.
  • S.B. 105 (Sen. Sharif Street, D-Philadelphia): Demilitarize local law enforcement agencies.

Last year, Black lawmakers commandeered the House floor to press the case for reform, finding an unlikely ally in former House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Alleghenywho entered into closed door negotiations with House Democratic leaders on reform bills, the Capital-Star reported at the time.

In a video posted to the Black Caucus’ websiteRep. Napoleon J. Nelson, D-Montgomery, catalogued the systemic inequities facing Black Pennsylvanians that stretch beyond encounters with law enforcement Those include disparities in housing, access to educational opportunity, and environmental injustice, among many others.

“Lives are being lost every day. We must stop the hate. We must stand up for each other. We must do what’s right.” he said. “The right thing is always clear. The question is, do we have the courage and conviction to step into the light?”

After our terrible and transformative year, that question should answer itself. Lawmakers need only act to make it so.

Pennsylvania State Capitol Building. (Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller.)

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller dives into some 2020 Census data and finds that Pennsylvania’s response rate exceeds the national average.

Pennsylvania’s election code is in need of some repairs. But whether those reform plans meet with local needs is another matter entirely, Marley Parish reports.

Philadelphia City Council is looking to diversify the city’s public workforce by getting rid of the so-called ‘Rule of Two,’ which regulates the filling of city civil service vacancies and promotions by limiting the eligibility pool to the two candidates with the highest scores on examinations and assessments, our partners at the Philadelphia Tribune report.

The national debate over infrastructure funding should be more narrowly focused on safety, advocates tell our colleagues at

Just in time for the start of Pride Month, the respected Phily AIDS Thrift is expanding, our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News report.

On our Commentary Page this morning, our friends at The Conversation speak with photographer Ron Tarver, now a professor at Swarthmore Collegewho captured the experiences of Black cowboys in Philadelphia and other cities across the country.

En la Estrella-CapitalRep. Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia, pide salvaguardias contra la manipulación de circunscripcion de prisiónes en mapas legislativos de Pa. Y respondiendo a llamados a la transparencia, el comité del Senado celebra la primera audiencia pública sobre la redistribución de distritos.

kenney crop
(Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney)

The Inquirer
 checks in on Philly Mayor Jim Kenney’s police reform efforts after a year, and finds they’re a work in progress.
Could more women officers help in that police reform effortPennLive takes up the question (paywall).
Officials say that Pa.’s new unemployment system will be faster and easier to use, the Morning Call reports (via the Post-Gazette).
The Post-Gazette looks at Pa.’s move toward normalcy now that many COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
To deal with a chronic worker shortage, Lancaster County employers are raising their wages to $15/hr.LancasterOnline reports (paywall).
Pennsylvania movie theaters are ditching their mask mandate, the York Daily Record reports (paywall).

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:


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A post shared by Nature Pacific (@nature_pacific)

SEPTA has launched a new effort to reduce jumps and deadly falls onto its tracks, WHYY-FM reports.
WESA-FM looks at the consumer impact of a pandemic-induced lumber shortage.
A World War II era submarine, the U.S.S. Cod, is getting repaired at Erie’s shipyard, GoErie reports (paywall).
Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, and his wife, Gisele Fetterman, visited Washington County’s Pride Picnic, the Observer-Reporter reports.
PoliticsPA runs down last week’s winners and losers in state politics.
Roll Call has 10 things to know about President Joe Biden’s 2022 budget proposal.

What Goes On.
10 a.m., online: House Democratic Policy Committee
1 p.m., Monroeville Borough Building, Monroeville, Pa.: Senate Democratic Policy Committee

Gov. Tom Wolf heads to Lancaster County for a 2 p.m. stop to talk about his charter school reform plan.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Best wishes go out this morning to reader Gabby Richards, of PR firm Berlin, Rosen in Washington D.C, and to Erin Laudenslager at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, both of whom celebrate today. Congratulations and enjoy the day.

Heavy Rotation.
Here’s one that popped up unexpectedly last night. From 2003, it’s Primal Scream, featuring model Kate Moss, with a duet of the Lee Hazlewood/Nancy Sinatra classic ‘Some Velvet Morning.’

Tuesday’s Gratuitous Hockey Link.
Rallying from a three-game deficit, Montreal eliminated Toronto in Game 7 of their playoff series on Monday night, winning 3-1 over the No. 1 seed. The Habs will face the Winnipeg Jets in the North Conference final.

And now you’re up to date.

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