POLICE VIOLENCE IN THE UNITED STATES
For centuries Police Brutality has been a huge issue within the United States- specifically the use of excessive force on victims and the abuse of government granted power. This issue has always contained an element of racial bias, but in recent years the problem has developed to the extreme. Cases beginning in the 1900’s have mostly spurred from racial profiling against the African American community, which has carried into today’s society. This affair has caused innocent African Americans to be beaten and killed in their backyards, the need for parents to teach their elementary aged children how to deal with cops because of their skin color, and it has brought great corruption to our country.
BEHIND THE SCENE
Policemen have been corrupting our criminal justice system under our noses for what seems like forever. There are countless loopholes in the system that allow policemen to shoot, and beat innocent victims without being touched by a judge. Many officers use the term “blue wall of silence” or “blue code” to free themselves from facing charges. The “blue code” states that no policeman can be forced by law to speak of a colleague’s errors, misconduct, or crimes, including police brutality(The Marshall Project). In court, officers are also given special treatment because of their position and commonly claim that they were “doing their job” to protect themselves; it is usually the policeman’s word describing the incident which tends to favor their side.During the 12 year period between 2005 and April 2017, 35% of officers have been convicted; and, only 80 officers were arrested on murder or manslaughter due to shootings. Also, regarding racial bias: African americans are 3x more likely to be killed by the police than whites(Mapping Police Brutality). ___________________________________________________________________________________________TODAY: On March 18, 2018, Stephon Clark was shot 20 times by two police officers while sitting in his Grandmother’s Backyard in Sacramento, California. The policeman believed Clark was holding a weapon, but when investigators looked at the scene they found only a cellphone. Footage of the scene leading up to and including the shooting of Stephon was captured on a policemen’s working body camera [a new tactic to prevent this issue]. It was also noted that minutes after the shooting, the body camera’s audio is cut off after hearing the sound “Hey, mute” from presumably one of the officers. (CNN)
Justice has yet to be served for Stephon which has left the city of sacramento marching for a change in this system and justice for Stephon Clark.
THE VIOLENT PAST
The problem of police brutality was first introduced in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s shortly after significant amounts of foreigners began immigrating into the United States(Penn State). The newly immigrated foreigners caused a racial divide, which lead to many hate crimes and conflict and the need for a police force, which was later introduced in 1838(Penn State). But, these new police forces led to many cultural and racial related court judgments, which still occurs today. Originally, European Immigrants were the system’s greatest target in the North, but soon after African-Americans migrated from the South, they were quickly added to the top of every policeman’s list(Smithsonian). The Illinois Association for Criminal Justice created the Illinois Crime Survey with the hope of discovering the causes of high-crime rates in Chicago and Cook County. This survey also revealed the racism in the department, when it showed that 30% of victims killed by the police were African-American, while they made up only about 5% of the population at that time(Similar to what’s happening today;Smithsonian). But the Civil Rights Era was right around the corner, and police brutality played a large role in society when the peaceful protests of many idealists ended up as violent riots.
HOW IT AFFECTS PEOPLE
I recently came across this video created by the company WatchCut, which put the issue into a different perspective that I believe should be watched:
As depicted in the video, African American families believe it is necessary to teach their children at a very young age how to deal with the police. The fact that a specific race is required to take extra precautions to ensure their safety with officers who were hired to protect them is a problem within itself. One race should not be isolated and forced to
live in fear, nor should they be analyzed by policemen as guilty or worthy of abuse. The brutality taken upon African Americans is causing our world to take major steps backward in our fight to end racism- and racial profiling by police is a great cause of the divide. Policemen should be seen as heroes, not bullies.
Black Lives Matter Movement: This movement is an international activist movement which campaigns and marches against violence and racism towards African Americans. It is a peaceful movement that protests for any and all lives, and is on of the leading groups who marches against Police Brutality(BLM.org).Say Her Name Movement: The movement was created to raise awareness for black women who are victims of police brutality and anti-black violence in the United States(AAPF). _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I am personally invested and interested in this issue because of its great occurrence in today’s society- and because it is only one component of the many surrounding the racism within the government and overall world. I cannot even begin understand what people go through everyday, and I cannot fathom the idea that a human can commit murder and still be untouched by a judge because they wear a badge; Hence why I believe this topic needs to be heavily addressed and analyzed. And, why the solutions to the problem need to be prioritized and taken more seriously._____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
CHANGING THE GAME
There are many actions people have taken in order to eliminate the numerous issues revolving the police department. Many measures have already been taken into consideration and are already being tested- but so far they have not eliminated or decreased the odds. A recent requirement for policeman is to wear body cams, but that has yet to eliminate police brutality and only seems to expose racial bias in the system more.There have already been countless actions taken by people in order to eliminate the numerous issues revolving the police department. Many measures have already been considered, and are currently being tested- though so far they have yet to eliminate and decrease the odds. Rather than approaching the problem with fixing the final act, start from the beginning.
Before The Position:
- Officers should be required to have more training, specifically requiring them to have their 4 year degrees (which many do not).
- Diversify race and gender of Officers.
- Require that all police forces should be required to have more implicit bias training
In The Office:
- Fire the bad officers – brings negative energy to workplace, and can harm others.
- Test officers for PTSD and Racial Bias randomly in the office, then either choose which action to take based on their results.
- Should also reduce violence rate towards African Americans and other potential victims.
- Regular drug and/or steroid tests.
After The Fact:
- Court should not feel obligated to decriminalize guilty police officers because of their position, officers should be punished for unnecessary violence as civilians would.
- As well as for other crimes such as murder.
- Use power of cameras, body cameras, and witnesses to full potential.
- Often looked passed.
- Police should be immediately filmed making a statement after each use of force on a victim explaining their reasoning
Thank you for checking out my page!:)
African American Policy Activists. “#SayHerName.” AAPF, www.aapf.org/sayhername/.
Cosgrove, Abigail Louise. “The History of Police Brutality.” Its a Mad World, Word Press, 12 Feb.
Denby, Gene. “Combing Through 41 Million Tweets To Show How #BlackLivesMatter Exploded.” NPR, Mar. 2016
Giphy. “News Police GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY.” GIPHY, GIPHY, 21 Aug. 2015,
Herwees, Tasbeeh. “Can News of Police Violence Cause PTSD in the Black Community?” Vice, 1 Aug.
“Latest Police Shootings Raise More Questions About Police Training, Tactics.” NPR, NPR, 9 July
“Blue Wall of Silence | The Record.” The Marshall Project,
Nodjimbadem, Katie. “The Long, Painful History of Police Brutality in the U.S.” Smithsonian.com,
Smithsonian Institution, 27 July 2017, www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/long-painful-history-police-brutality-in-the-us-180964098/.
Sanchez, Ray. “The Man Shot and Killed by Sacramento Police Was Turning His Life around, His
Brother Says.” CNN, Cable News Network, 23 Mar. 2018, www.cnn.com/2018/03/23/us/sacramento-police-shooting-stephon-clark/index.html.
Singyewe, Samuel. “Police Have Killed 264 People in 2018.” Mapping Police Violence,
Swanson, Emily. “Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide between Black and White Americans.”
Law Enforcement and Violence: The Divide between Black and White Americans Issue Brief | APNORC.org | APNORC.org, www.apnorc.org/projects/Pages/HTML%20Reports/law-enforcement-and-violence-the-divide-between-black-and-white-americans0803-9759.aspx.
Workneh, Lilly. “#SayHerName: Black Women And Girls Matter, Too.” The Huffington Post,
TheHuffingtonPost.com, 7 Dec. 2017, www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/21/black-women-matter_n_7363064.html.