Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

By Ruth McCambridge

A recent report by the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice reports that Native Americans are killed by police at a higher rate than any other ethnic group.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that Native Americans make up almost 2% of those killed by police though they are only 0.8% of the population. While police kill young black men more than any other group, they kill Native Americans at a higher rate.

As with African Americans, these killings are not isolated from the larger problem of police and societal violence, as this devastating article in Counterpunch discusses in the particular context of New Mexico, which in 2014 had the highest rate of police killing in the country.

That article reports that “according to a 2003 study by the New Mexico Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Native people experience ‘acts of ethnic intimidation; threats of physical violence, assaults, and other potential hate crimes’ as part of everyday life in border towns like Gallup, Farmington and Albuquerque.”

Chase Iron Eyes is an attorney with the Lakota People’s Law Project in South Dakota, which published a report called “Native Lives Matter” early this year. He says that the DOJ needs to address police violence against Native Americans.

“You can tell they’re shooting out of fear,” he said.

“If it’s not out of hate, for some reason they’re pulling the trigger before determining what the situation actually is. Something does need to happen. Somebody does need to take a look and we need help.” —Ruth McCambridge


Students participate in a “die in” outside Colorado’s state capitol in Denver in December 2014 as one of many nationwide in the wake of officer Darren Wilson shooting and killing Michael Brown in August 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri. The subsequent national conversation about police brutality in the US has largely ignored the suffering of the Native American community at the hands of police. Michael Rieger/ZUMA

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5 thoughts on “Police Killing Indigenous Americans at Astounding Rate*

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