WHY SO MANY POLICE KILLINGS IN THE U.S. COMPARED TO EUROPE?
April 21, 2021
For a start to answer this question, please read this informative article about this interesting question. The author explains how European policing manages to maintain "law and order" without killing nearly as many people as U.S. policing.
Clearly the U.S. ruling class could make policing here (in particular regarding training and use-of-lethal-force policy) be like it is in Europe and although that wouldn't change the fact that gun ownership is more widespread in the U.S. than Europe (one, but not the only cause of more police killings here than in Europe) it would nonetheless substantially reduce the number of police killings in the U.S.
The question then (which the article does not address) is HOW COME the U.S. ruling class shows no inclination to make U.S. policing like European policing? Here's one reason. Class/economic inequality is substantially greater in the U.S. than in Europe, and greater class inequality requires greater use of police to cow the have-nots into submission. Cowing the have-nots into submission is indeed the main task of U.S. police forces. (The "nice helpful" things that the police do for mainly middle or upper class people and sometimes working class people are merely a form of public relations, not the actual purpose of the police departments. It's like when the Marine Corps sponsors its "Toys for Tots" program while invading other countries and killing innocent people on behalf of the billionaire ruling plutocracy.) The main factor that correlates with a higher probability of being killed by the police is poverty (which, of course is disproportionately greater among non-whites), as discussed in this analysis of the data.
The poverty caused by economic inequality is now greater in the United States than in Europe, and this is largely why police killings are greater in the United States than in Europe--the U.S. ruling class needs to use more violence than the European ruling class, to cow its have-nots into submission to worse poverty than what the have-nots in Europe experience.
The reason economic inequality is now less in Europe than in the United States is in part due to the different effect of World War II and its aftermath in following decades in those places. In Europe WWII led to a great reduction in class inequality. In the U.S. class inequality also fell to an all time low by the end of the 1960s, and according to two sources (here and here) economic inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient was in 1970 a bit less in the United States than in Europe. But U.S. economic inequality increased dramatically following the early 1970s as I discuss here and as noted above is substantially greater now than in Europe.
Furthermore, the racism that began with the practice of, and ideological defense of, chattel slavery in the United States (but which did not occur in Europe) has enabled the U.S. ruling class to drive down ALL of the have-nots (as discussed by MLK, Jr.) more effectively than the European ruling class has been able to do the same thing to European have-nots.
WHAT LIES AHEAD IN EUROPE?
Because the capitalist rich upper class holds the real power in Europe, class conflict rages there today. Recently the Yellow Vest movement in France broke out--a conflict between the have-nots and and the haves over how much economic (and political) inequality would prevail in France. The French ruling class responded with greater violence against the have-nots than it had generally used previously. A 2019 ForeignPolicy.com article titled, "Emmanuel Macron’s Year of Cracking Heads: France’s past year offers a possible preview of the West's future: growing protests against liberalism—and growing brutality against the protests," reported:
"As of November 2019, 315 people have been injured in the head, resulting for some in a fractured skull or jaw; 25 have lost an eye; five have lost a hand; and one woman died of injuries caused by a grenade, according to French journalist David Dufresne, who has kept a meticulous count of injuries for news website Mediapart."
Economic inequality is increasing in Europe as I discuss in "Why They're Rioting in Sweden" and "Class Inequality Soars in 'Social Democratic' Germany" and "Denmark: A Class Conflict Battleground" and "The 'Iceland Did It Right' Myth."
MORAL OF THE STORY
Allowing the rich upper class to remain in power means always having to fight its attempts (often successful) to increase economic inequality, and it means having to deal with the increased police violence that the ruling class will use to enforce that inequality on the have-nots.
There is only one way to ensure that police violence in Europe will not one day be as horrible as it is today in the United States, and that is to remove the upper class in Europe from power with an egalitarian revolution, which the Yellow Vests in France were coming closer and closer to aiming for.
Likewise, the only way to end the horrific police killings in the United States is to make an egalitarian revolution here. Fortunately, such a revolution is possible, as I discuss here.