How Much Is a Black Life Worth? We Calculated It

This week, Phil and Castile’s family changed into presented $3 million to settle a civil wrongful demise lawsuit against the tiny township of St. Anthony, Minn. A week in advance, CNN reports, the circle of relatives of Mike Brown reportedly acquired $1.5 million from the metropolis of Ferguson, Mo., in the 2015 death of the 18-yr vintage.

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Imagine you were sitting at home, watching Power (because I am the only black man or woman in America who doesn’t watch the display), while you heard the doorbell ring. When you opened it, there stood a sharply dressed attorney maintaining a briefcase. You asked him what he desired, and he stated:

Inside this briefcase is $5 million. It is tax-free and untraceable. I can help you count it in case you desire, but—agree with me—it’s miles all there. I will hand it throughout to you proper now and never contact you once more. The handiest one component I require in trade is that you must allow me to stroll as much as the character you adore maximum in this world and shoot them in the head.
Would you do it? How approximately this one:

You review your water invoice and note that it has surged by $ ninety-two.Ninety-three. You name town hall and ask the receptionist about the more charge. She clears her throat and responds: “Well, that’s how plenty it prices your city to now and then kill a black child. Will you be paying with the aid of cash or test?”

If it appears ridiculous, that is due to the fact our figures are excessive. Cities, counties, and entire states throughout the country publicly pay thousands and thousands for police misconduct every yr. Even although most of the instances against law-enforcement officers never result in convictions, municipalities often secretly (and from time to time publicly) settle civil fits with victims or the families of victims.

When a Chicago cop pumped sixteen bullets into 17-12 months-antique Laquan McDonald, the metropolis refused to release the video proof, and the officers saved their jobs. However the city had already secretly forked over $5 million in hush money to McDonald’s family. Tamir Rice’s own family received $6 million from the metropolis of Cleveland for taking pictures of him seconds after police encountered the 12-12 months-vintage playing in a park with a BB gun. Sandra Bland’s own family acquired $1.9 million when she turned observed lifeless in police custody in Texas after she changed into arrested for failing to signal. No officer has yet been convicted of any of these crimes. However, the businesses worried about those deaths have paid millions to the families.

After the Castile and Brown settlements hit the information, along with different excessive-profile lawsuits, The Root determined that we’d want to recognize the fee of black life. How a whole lot does it price to kill a black person?

Of the same importance is the quantity you pay. Police departments, officials, or cities don’t pay those settlements; taxpayers do. We desired to determine out how plenty men or woman taxpayers paid for the loss of black existence. Here’s how we did it.

The Data

As it’s often noted, there is no country-wide database for police shootings, so this is crucial to recognize—this is not a peer-reviewed, scientific study. Police departments shouldn’t even document police shootings to a federal corporation.

The best way to find the agreement amounts is from news reviews, so we discovered 41 cases where police either settled out of the courtroom or have been determined courteously answerable for the deaths of a black character. Instead of using the highest-profile cases, we also jumbled together instances that didn’t make national headlines. We also deliberately used incidents from great regions throughout the usa.

You can download a listing of the man or woman instances we used right here, at the side of the settlement quantities, which entity paid the settlement and the populace of the paying birthday celebration.

The Math

We took the settlement amounts that courts, police departments, coverage corporations, legal professionals, and the households of victims reached and averaged them to discover a representative quantity for the price of black existence. This quantity represents each taxpayer’s financial obligation for a police killing.

We also checked out the kingdom, county, or municipality that paid the settlement for every case. Using information from City-Data.Com, we used the 2014 populace for every entity (that is the maximum current) and divided each character settlement by the number of humans chargeable for paying the amount that police gave the victim’s circle of relatives, giving us the number each citizen ought to pay when police erase a black life.

For example, for the deaths of Sean Bell, Akai Gurley, and Eric Garner alone, New York City paid $17.05 million. This means the Big Apple figures a lifestyle is worth approximately $five,683,333—which seems like plenty—until you recognize that every of the town’s eight,491,079 residents best needed to kick in about 67 cents apiece to cowl the NYPD’s invoice to kill a black guy.

You likely own multiple pairs of footwear that fee more significant than the average man or woman will pay for a lifeless black frame. Our worth cannot rely on dollar amounts, but they on occasion degree our weight in Skittles and Arizona iced tea. It is shorter than a percent of comfort to keep Swisher Sweets laid quit-to-end and extra fragile than a unfastened cigarette.

Jessica J. Underwood
Subtly charming explorer. Pop culture practitioner. Creator. Web guru. Food advocate. Typical travel maven. Zombie fanatic. Problem solver. Was quite successful at developing wooden tops in the aftermarket. A real dynamo when it comes to exporting glucose in Bethesda, MD. Had moderate success managing action figures in New York, NY. Set new standards for selling crayon art in Salisbury, MD. In 2009 I was getting my feet wet with sock monkeys for the underprivileged. Spoke at an international conference about merchandising toy elephants in Nigeria.