Native Americans more likely to be killed by law enforcement

Tribal activists led a protest against the police shooting of Christopher Capps in Rapid City, South Dakota, in June 2010. Photo by Estella Claymore / Native Sun News

Native Americans are more like to be killed by police officers than any other racial or ethnic group in the United States.

According to the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice, Native Americans ages 25-35, 35-44 and 20-24 represent four of the top five groups most likely to be killed in law enforcement incidents. They accounted for 1.9 percent of victims in police killings even though they represent less than 1 percent of the entire population.

"The racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans," the August 2014 report stated.

Native Americans are more likely to be killed by law enforcement than any other racial or ethnic group. Image from Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

Despite the great disparity, police shootings of Native Americans tend not to attract much attention from the general public. Families, advocates and tribes have held protests, organized events and issued reports like Native Lives Matter by the Lakota Law Project but there have been no significant attempts to understand why the incidents keep recurring.

Recent fatal incidents include the shooting of Paul Castaway in Denver, Colorado; Allen Locke in Rapid City, South Dakota; Joy Ann Sherman in Mitchell, South Dakota, South Dakota; Jordan Willis in Mississippi, Mah-hi-Vist GoodBlanket in Oklahoma; Christopher Capps in Rapid City; and John T. Williams in Seattle, Washington.

The death of Williams, who was a traditional First Nations woodcarver from Canada, was one of the few incidents that drew consistent media coverage. It prompted reforms in the Seattle police department though none specifically directed towards Native Americans.

Get the Story:
Native Americans Get Shot By Cops at an Astonishing Rate (Mother Jones 7/15)

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