Notes:?Estimates are based on lynching data from 1882–1930 and officer-involved shooting data from 2015–2020.

Source:?Author’s analysis of Historical American Lynching Project data and officer-involved shooting data from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Mississippi.

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Taken together, these three figures suggest that lynchings continue to plague our communities, including our police departments.

As we see protesters across the country demanding justice for Floyd, Arbery, Taylor, and countless others, let’s remember that no amount of justice will bring their lives back. While justice is necessary, there needs to be a fundamental change to how, and on whom, laws are enforced. By demanding change, in addition to justice, protesters can stop being forced to demand justice, with varying levels of success, every time police officers lynch Black people.

There are steps being taken to stop these heinous crimes, including an anti-lynching bill that, as of Thursday, was being held up in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who added an amendment to the bill, strongly opposed by several Democratic senators, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).

Lynchings, she stressed in a speech on the Senate floor on Thursday opposing the amendment, are “the great stain of America’s history.”

“Senator Paul is now trying to weaken a bill that was already passed—there’s no reason for this, there’s no reason for this. There is no reason other than cruel and deliberate obstruction on a day of mourning,” she said, about Floyd’s memorial service in Minnesota.

To learn from our past, we must break the cycle of state-sanctioned violence.