AP images

The activists behind the project aimed for a comprehensive national snapshot of police violence.

This week the U.S. Department of Justice released a blistering report following an investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. The report included a long and (to some) shocking list of discriminatory police practices. But discrimination and police violence aren't limited to one police department, and a team of social justice activists has created an interactive map to demonstrate how pervasive such practices are across the United States.

The map shows that police violence disproportionately targets black men on a national scale. Or, in the words of data analyst Samuel Sinyangwe, one of the map's creators, it shows "that Ferguson is everywhere."

Sinyangwe and his fellow activists have been compiling information and resources to help support the #blacklivesmatter movement on the ground. In the process, they realized that a comprehensive national snapshot of police violence was missing—guided in part by articles from Reuben Fischer-Baum of FiveThirtyEight, who has argued that official figures on police killings aren't reliable.

Using non-governmental databases highlighted by Fischer-Baum, including Fatal Encounters and Killed By Police, Sinyangwe and his collaborators estimated that there were 1,175 total police killings in 2014. They then sorted the records by race and found that 302 of the deceased were black—or 26 percent of the total. That's an overrepresentation of African Americans, who make up 13 percent of the general population.

"In terms of comprehensiveness, our estimate is that [the data] is capturing at least 90 percent of all folks who are killed by police in 2014," Sinyangwe tells CityLab.

Black people—particularly young, black men—were more likely to be killed by police in certain parts of the country than in others. To Sinyangwe, such data dismantles the argument that police violence is simply a response to black-on-black crime, because levels of police violence vary between regions with similar crime rates and shares of black population, he says.

The map site also has a tool to compare different police departments so protestors can make more sophisticated arguments against naysayers, wherever they are in the country:

Sinyangwe hopes the project will help convince doubtful parties that there's a problem with police brutality in the United States compared with other developed countries—one that disproportionately affects black people. The animated map fills in police violence by geography over the course of 2014. "Being able to see that unfold over the year communicates the level of urgency in a way that statistics don't," he says.

Take a look at the map:

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    British People Feel Locked Out of London

    Britons who live outside the capital consider it too expensive and crowded for them to live there, a new report finds.

  2. Passengers wait in a German subway station
    Transportation

    The Global Mass Transit Revolution

    A new report confirms that the U.S. lags behind the rest of the world in mass transit.

  3. Transportation

    Like Uber, but for Cartographers

    Streetcred, a blockchain-powered open-source mapping startup, will pay you to map. (And then give the data away for free.)

  4. Equity

    What’s at Stake in Washington’s Heated Battle Over Tipped Workers

    Does paying tipped workers the minimum wage spell death for the city's restaurant industry, or dignity for the city's employees?

  5. A row of homes under the Montreal sun.
    Perspective

    Why Is the Homebuilding Industry Stuck in the 1940s?

    Embrace pre-fabricated, adaptable homes! Growing inequity, out-of-reach housing prices, and the speed of innovation in energy efficiency and technology demand it.