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Mistrust of police major contributor of gun violence in US: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
New York City students and youth activists participate in a news conference and rally against police violence, on August 08, 2019. (Getty Images)

The lack of trust between police officers and the communities they are paid to protect is a major driver of gun violence in cities across the United States, according to a new report.

In many major US cities, acts of police brutality have eroded trust, making residents less likely to place their trust in law enforcement and more likely to seek vigilante justice, based on the study by Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

“Everybody has largely missed the fact that if people can’t count on help from the state and its agents, they’re going to take care of themselves,” says David Kennedy, the director of the National Network for Safe Communities, a violence reduction research center.

“Sometimes taking care of yourself looks like day-to-day gun violence,” he added.

“Communities have the answers and can address and treat gun violence. But law enforcement gets the lion’s share of any city budget in the country,” says Fernando Rejón, the director of the Urban Peace Institute.

Gun violence in America is still highly concentrated and disproportionately affects African Americans and Hispanics

Overall, blacks accounted for 51 percent of gun homicide victims nationally from 2010 to 2017, while only accounting for 7 percent of the US population, the report said. 

Nationally, nearly one-third of Americans seriously injured in crimes involving weapons did not report the crime to authorities, the report says, while more than half of homicides of African Americans never led to an arrest, according to a Washington Post investigation cited by the report. 

“We hear about disproportionate impact and it’s important to speak clearly about how that’s a racial injustice,” says Ari Freilich, a lead author of the report and policy director at Giffords. “That number would be unheard of in every high-income country in the world.”

Instead of acknowledging this complicated phenomenon, many police departments advocate the false notion of “murder capitals”, where residents of cities are accused of being complacent about gun violence and unwilling to help police hold shooters accountable.

Numerous demonstrations have been held across the US in recent years over the killing of unarmed black men by white police officers.

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