WaPo’s Police Shootings Graphic

First off, it is awesome and you should go look at it right now: http://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/national/police-shootings/

I am struck in particular by their focus on individual human beings; each victim* is represented as a single figure in the timeline graphic the Post leads with:

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.22.05

Below the original graphic space, the Post shows each victim as an individual, with details about the circumstances as well as a photo when possible. This further emphasizes the humanity of each person.

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.47.55

That all said, I feel like some key context is left out of the graphic that just as easily could have been included, and would have made the racial aspect of these numbers manifestly more obvious.

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.30.45

Almost twice as many white people as black people have been killed by police so far this year. This figure alone, without context, dramatically undercuts the assertion by civil rights activists that blacks are unfairly targeted and killed by police.

Had the Post included census data with those numbers, the impact would be quite different:

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.41.56

Whites are underrepresented by a third, blacks are overrepresented by half. Only Hispanics are being “fairly” represented in these statistics.


9/23/16 Update: Turns out there was a suitable alternative out there all along! Peep The Guardian’s on-going vigil “The Counted: People killed by police in the US” which has a much better way of showing proportionality:

screenshot-2016-09-23-21-08-06

Thanks to BJ Warshaw for sussing it out.


* I realize how charged it is to use this word, but the police involved in these events might also be termed victims; when deadly force is used, everyone loses.

WaPo’s Police Shootings Graphic

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