Andrea Wilkinson /Nevada Sagebrush Samuel Sinyangwe, data scientist and policy analyst for Black Lives Matter gives a presentation on campus on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Nevada is ranked the fourth in the nation for police violence.

Andrea Wilkinson /Nevada Sagebrush
Samuel Sinyangwe, data scientist and policy analyst for Black Lives Matter gives a presentation on campus on Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Nevada is ranked the fourth in the nation for police violence.

Michael Brown was shot dead by police in the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, on Aug. 19, 2016. Out of the anger and confusion incited from the national attention the case received came Black Lives Matter, a movement to shine a spotlight on racial inequality and police brutality that most of the country thought was left in the 1960s.

Since the protests led by the forming BLM group in Ferguson, there have been three times as many protests than any other time period in U.S. history, including the height of the civil rights movement.

The informal organization needed data in order to back its claims and gain politicians’ attention to start changing the policing systems in the U.S. Samuel Sinyangwe, a student at Stanford studying racial relations and suppression, became the person to start collecting the data BLM needed and co-founded platforms to start the change the movement sought.

Sinyangwe came to the University of Nevada, Reno, on Monday, Oct. 24, to present his findings to students and other members of the community.

“Many individuals, on and off campus, really do not understand the reasoning behind the Black Lives Matter movement,” said Blane Harding, director of The Center Every Student. Every Story. “This will give them the opportunity to gain a greater understanding of the issues and perspectives of this national movement. I am hop

of the issues and perspectives of this national movement. I am hoping that the use of data can provide clarity and urgency to this matter.”

Sinyangwe said people began to question whether this was an isolated incident or if this was a national epidemic. What they found was that the federal government didn’t collect sufficient data about people who are killed by police. This led Sinyangwe to start collecting data and searching for non-government databases with this data.

Brian Burghart began to question the same thing after noticing an unusual amount of police cars on Arlington Avenue in May 2012. He began to research how many people were shot by police officers in America. What he found was that no one knew how many killings by police officers there were.

“I was offended, to be honest,” Burghart said. “The FBI had been allowing the American news media to report inaccurate numbers without correction for decades.”

That’s when Burghart started the database Fatal Encounters. He wanted to find out the correct number of people shot by police in the U.S.

By the time BLM started to mobilize, the data the group needed to support its cause was already there. Sinyangwe said the FBI denied the data existed, but it had been collected on Burghart’s database for years.

Sinyangwe started to collect data of his own. The FBI reported under 500 people killed annually by police officers in the country. Sinyangwe found the number was actually more than double: Around 1,200 people are killed by a police officer each year. Three hundred  forty-six people killed by police officers in 2013 were black.

“This shows that Ferguson is everywhere,” Sinyangwe said. “This is not a St. Louis issue; it is not a Baltimore issue. People are being killed everywhere across the country, a range of three to four people every day.”

There have been over 900 killings in 2016 so far, 234 of them black people.

Sinyangwe then created a data and policy platform for the movement. The platform is called Mapping Police Violence. It tracks who was killed, where and why they were shot, what agency is responsible, whether the officer was charged, a brief description of the incident report, and a link to its source.

It also gives other data that backs BLM. Black people are three times more likely to be killed than their white counterparts, and 30 percent of black victims in 2015 were unarmed. Only 19 percent of white people were unarmed.

The platform ranks states based on their police violence. Nevada has the fourth highest rate of police violence. The platform also lists the top 100 cities where police violence occurs, Reno being No. 20.

According to the platform’s data, there is no correlation between the violent crime rates and police shootings in an area.

Sinyangwe said people began to ask why this was happening, and he determined from the data that it was because of a lack of police de-escalation training. He found that officers spend more time training to fatally shoot a subject than learning to de-escalate a non-violent situation gone wrong.

That led him and other people of BLM to create a 10-point platform calledCampaign Zero that could be implemented in police training across the country on federal, state and local levels.

Campaign Zero includes limiting the use of force, filming police, more training on important tactics and demilitarization of the police.

This platform caught the attention of politicians and police leaders in the country.

Sinyangwe and other BLM members met with Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to incorporate the platform into the Democratic party’s platform.

Police leaders in cities such as Philadelphia caught wind of the training policy of the platform and decided to incorporate some of its eight policies into their own training.

The training platform holds a standard to regulations of a police department. For example, police cannot put a suspect in a chokehold, have to exhaust all means before shooting a suspect and have to intervene if they think an officer is using excessive force.

The platform gathered data about what happened when the policies are implemented and found they were beneficial to the officers and the community. Police officers are 72 percent less likely to shoot someone and less likely to be killed in the line of duty if four or more of the policies are implemented simultaneously.

The Reno Police Department incorporates none of these eight policies.

These policies would be enforced through the police unions and the Police Bill of Rights the union has with each department.

In Nevada, the Police Bill of Rights delays interviewing a police officer until 48 hours after they shoot a suspect. They can view footage of the incident before interrogation, should there be any, and limits the amount of discipline an officer can receive, making it difficult for the justice system to prove them guilty of any misconduct.

In Reno, records of misconduct are erased after three years and cannot determine the status of an officer’s employment.

However, members of Reno’s government are working to change the policing policies. On Monday, Reno City Council and the Reno Police department committed to finding solutions to the problem.

“I look forward to continuing to engage and support local activists to help hold them accountable to this goal,” said Sinyangwe. “You don’t need permission to act, to build, and to organize for change.”

The goal of these platforms is to gather comprehensive data and end police violence through their policies. Sinyangwe and other BLM membersare still working to incorporate these policies into more departments across the country but have successfully implemented them in Sacramento, Philadelphia and Orlando, the number one place for police shootings.

“We have seen 28 states enact legislation related to one of the 10 platforms of Campaign Zero,” Sinyangwe said. “There is a lot of hope, there is progress being made, but as we know this issue continues to impact communities, so we have to stay vigilant.”