Is the police force in America racist against black people and ethnic minorities?

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According to research by the Washington Post, most violent police encounters result from officers trying to protect themselves or civilians.

In three-quarters of the fatal shootings studied, police were under attack or defending someone who was. 28 percent of those who died were shooting at officers or someone else. Sixteen percent were attacking with other weapons or physical force, 31 percent were pointing a gun.

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Black men in America are more likely than white men to be killed by the police.

Although more white people are shot in total, people from minority ethnic groups are shot at higher rates by population. One paper found that a black man is 2.5 times more likely than a white man to be killed by the police during his lifetime.

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The factor that best predicts the race of a person fatally shot by police is the homicide rate of people of the same race, within a county.

For instance, in counties where whites committed a higher percentage of homicides, victims of police shootings are 3.5 times more likely to be white; in counties where blacks commit more homicides, victims are 3.7 times more likely to be black.

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Poverty, not inherent racial prejudice, is responsible for disproportionate encounters between the police and ethnic minorities.

Police officers are called to poor neighbourhoods more often and there are more ethnic minorities in poor areas— for example, the black poverty rate in America is 22 percent, while the white rate is 8.8 percent.

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Even when assessing only poor areas, those with higher percentages of minorities show higher rates of police intervention and detention.

According to a study by Human Rights Watch, based on data from the US city of Tulsa, some areas that are primarily white but also extremely poor, have significantly lower rates of detentions than those with larger black populations.

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