The Guardian’s ongoing project, the Counted, tracks the number of people killed by the police in the US. As of this writing, at least 863 individuals were killed by members of US police forces in 2016.
The series began at the start of 2015, combining original Guardian reporting and verifiable crowdsourced data to compile details of these cases into a more comprehensive database. This project continues with the hope of understanding how and why these incidents occur, as well as a method to survey the frequency of these killings.
But why is this necessary? The Guardian explains,
“The US government has no comprehensive record of the number of people killed by law enforcement. This lack of basic data has been glaring amid the protests, riots and worldwide debate set in motion by the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old, in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014.
Before stepping down as US attorney general in April 2015, Eric Holder described the prevailing situation on data collection as “unacceptable”.
The Guardian agrees with those analysts, campaign groups, activists and authorities who argue that such accounting is a prerequisite for an informed public discussion about the use of force by police.”
This is an issue that, as libertarians, we must not ignore, but rather stand at the forefront against the use of force by the government’s law enforcement racket. In fact, if we espouse individual liberty for all people, then we must be better on this issue than our peers from other ideological backgrounds and political perspectives. Talking about the non-aggression principle and wondering how many anarchists can dance on the head of a pin is fine and all, but substantive actions and dialogue must occur, too.
Libertarians must articulate objections to the government security monopoly, its perverse incentive structures, its counterproductive methods of law enforcement, the unaccountability of sovereign immunity statutes, and the costs taxpayers are burdened with to fund it all.
And most importantly, we must not remain silent when agents of the State kill people.