Law enforcement officers have so far killed 190 people this year, and the number keeps rising. One of those victims, named Sharon Mitterling, 67, was hit by a police car in Warsaw, Indiana when she was walking down her driveway to get her mail. There has been no conviction in the investigation of reckless driving against the officer who killed her.
“Say their names.”
That’s the message behind Josh Begley’s, Brooklyn-based data artist and researcher, new app Archives + Absences. The application sends the user a push notification every time the police kills someone in the U.S. It has a simple interface with only two screens – one, a map of the country with pinpoints everywhere someone has been shot and the other, a streaming rolodex of names.
Peter Phalen is an Indianapolis-based graduate student and coder. For him, the issue of police violence couldn’t be overlooked any longer. So, he decided to code Archives + Absences for Android. With the rise of media coverage in relation to police violence and abuse of power, the past five years have seen a corresponding rise in activism against police violence. All of the data on the app comes from The Guardian’s active archiving program called The Counted, which is the first source to collect and record concrete statistics of all police killings.
Recently, the American public has seen an increase in activism regarding police violence. The severity of civilian killings by police shocks people, and cases that have gotten nationwide coverage (like Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner) have prompted a larger look at our police forces. These killings have even prompted bigger cultural protests, like the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
The Archives + Absences app is one that adds accountability for police forces and makes information regarding police killings available to the public, a positive step in police reform.