A Pattern of Racial Targeting

Same race. No racial discrimination. No problem. Roughly once a week over the past eight years, Philadelphia police officers opened fire at a suspect. Almost always, the suspects were black. Often, the officers were, too.

The statistics were laid out in a Justice Department report, which does not allege racial discrimination. When federal investigators looked at the race of the officers and the suspects, they found no statistically significant difference in the outcomes: 85 percent of victims and perpetrators in Philadelphia are black. It is the kind of data that has been nearly absent from the debate over police tactics that began with a deadly shooting in Ferguson, where a black and unarmed 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white cop. Commissioner Ramsey reminded people of the violence plaguing the city: “Folks need to quit killing each other. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m black myself.” Philadelphia saw more police shootings than New York, a city with five times the number of residents and officers.

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