How Police Brutality Is Dividing the United StatesFor many decades, those of the minority community have been wrongly subjected to violence by the law enforcement in the United States. This type of violence is a direct depiction of something that may often times lead to death, police brutality. For many years, police brutality has remained a major concern for anyone of color.
According to Sirry Alang and others, “Blacks are significantly more likely to experience police brutality than are Whites, and whiteness affords protection against police use of force” (662). In other words, the group of authors believes that people of color, more specifically blacks, have a higher chance of being subjected when encountering law enforcement. It also is a statement that can often be heard throughout neighborhoods and communities with people of color, but it is a topic that is rarely mentioned in suburbs where blacks are the minority. The “Police Brutality and Black Health: Setting the Agenda for Public Health Scholars” article written by the group of doctors, does an exquisite job of recognizing that there is a problem, while also giving credit to the armed forces. It is no question that the topic of police brutality has been on the table and in the spotlight for an amount of time no one expected. While people realize that there are such actions going on throughout the country, most choose to turn a blind eye and to not get involved. It can be argued that ever since the election of former President Barack Obama in 2008, a division was created in America that has not been seen since the civil war. Without a doubt, there is problem within this country that is being fueled by ignorance and bigotry; a problem which needs to be addressed.
Depending on who the receiver of the question is, some will say that the police are for anyone of darker skin color. On the other hand, some will argue that the blame is not to be put upon the officers, but on the social media for portraying police in a negative manner. While both statements have valid arguments, the chance that there was actual time and effort put into research and sourcing is slim. This is the result of people holding strong to their opinions.
The stubbornness is what divides this great country to this day. No one wants to be wrong, so they will take all opportunities to prove their incorrectness. However, there are some that do research to get the full story and to form an uninfluenced opinion. Those who do so, may stumble upon viable resources that attempt to give the true, untampered story. Upon taking in the information and reading the articles from an unbiased point of view, there are some question that arise. These questions may include, but are not limited to: Why are resources exploited by big money to give inaccurate information about racial issues? Why must politics have so much control over circumstances that involve controversy in the everyday lives of civilians? One cannot a give definitive answer to such questions, or why political views and stances disturb the accuracy of the headlines that inform the population of occurrences. Nonetheless, the ignorance among most citizens plays a big part in the division of the country. Police brutality is a problem in America that mainly impacts people of color.
It is a dilemma that should not only be addressed by the police task force, but also by the higher up branches of the government for the greater good of all civilians. Police brutality comes from the ignorance of U.S. citizens, the lack of leadership in the country, and the bias of major news sources. There is not a definitive answer as to why blacks are targeted, but it is hard to not look into racism. Why are people of color targeted by the police? What percentages of blacks are actually having altercations with special forces? Why is police brutality such a problem? The previous questions are the ones usually brought up when the topic of police brutality is being researched.
The questions that needed to be asked as the rate of excessive force used by police officers increases; there is an outrage that needed to be addressed. According to Alang and a group of associates, they discovered and came to the conclusion that young black men have a much higher chance of being killed by police officers, nine times to be exact, but only after analyzing a newspaper from the United Kingdom dated back to 2015 (Alang et al. 662). Which goes to show that there are facts to back up the claims against being treated unfairly. However, there is a reason police officers are making more stops.
In some communities, police departments are known to give their force a monthly quota for tickets and citations. The outcome is usually not in favor for the citizen on the receiving end. A very good example of that, is when Hayes wrote about the occurrences and situations revolving around Michael Brown’s death. He proclaimed that the city Brown was murdered in, was struggling financially within the task force. In 2010, the police department was struggling financially which was taking a toll on overall collections for upcoming years, which led to a sky rocket in ticket write ups, which put young black males at high risk (Hayes 16). Within police departments, it is known that officers receive a stipend when they give out a high amount of citations out is high, officers take a portion of the money paid.
Even with the stipend being outlawed, departments illegally give an incentive for officers to do their jobs at a higher rate. This results an in increase in citations, leading to dangerous situations for POC’s when pulled over or stopped by the police. When a life is taken by a police officer, especially the life a someone who is black, it causes outrage and riots against the government and leadership. Some of which is due to verdict that may not meet the public’s standards; outcomes in favor of police officer in question. To further and create a better image on this topic, Lichi D’Amelio illustrates a similar situation, The intensity and breadth of the outrage provoked by the verdict has left an indelible mark on the NYPD and the city — and the threat of another explosion lurks just beneath every incident of police brutality, racial profiling, and murder. Protests brought out tens of thousands of New Yorkers and led to the arrests over the following weeks of nearly 1,800 protesters, including celebrities, religious leaders, and public officials. In the aftermath of the trial and the protests, the SCU, which had been functioning since 1971, was disbanded.
(D’Amelio 42)Basically, what D’Amelio is saying, is that setting standards for a task force, will not only lead to unnecessary deaths, but also local outrage. These statements alone do not give a full understanding of why people make the decisions that they make. They do however, show that people are outraged by the actions and will go to great heights for a change.
However, public outcry cannot always protect against pure bigotry. The most obvious way police brutality is caused, is by ignorance. To start, police brutality in terms of excessive force, is a resultant of lack of training. In addition, sometimes that lack of training can result in big payouts four the victim or the victim’s family, which could definitely hurt the city overall. Khelmani further explains when he states that the county of Camden had to settle two separate court cases by paying a total $150,000 back in 2014. Not only at the district level, but police brutality is a problem all over America. In addition, people all over the country are unaware to the inequality and the unfair treatment officers of the law are putting towards POC’s.
Innocent young black males are being killed all throughout the country every day. An author elaborates by saying, “In yet another death of a Black man at the hands of the NYPD, protocols on how the department deals with alleged suspects’ mental health issues are once again at the forefront” (Barker and Arinde 6). It is pretty disappointing that even those with mental health problems must fear for their lives, which is something that should not be a concern in today’s society. Most importantly, is how the citizens who must trust police officers, must also show respect and support. Police brutality directly stems from the lack of training within the police force. It is something that has not only been admitted by multiple police departments, but even by everyday citizens who keep up with the news (23). It is clear that something needs to be changed within the training regimen, it is a question of when.
With the amount of disapproval throughout the country about the actions of the police officers, most would think further consequences would be taken at a much timely manner. The hope is that the training of police officers improves, which in hindsight would impact the amount of innocent lives being taken. This is better explained Khelmani, “With a better-trained police force and better communication with the communities, law enforcement officials are hopeful the number of bad headlines will shrink” (Khemlani 23). The result would better help all communities affected by faulty training and impulsive actions of an officer. These statements alone do not give a full understanding as to why people do what they do. They do however, show that people are outraged by the action and will go to great heights for a change. Racism is currently a problem in a country that has deep roots in such a tragic topic.
The division in America, results from racism being fueled by the lack of leadership in the United States giving supplemental statements towards the situation. One scenario of this is explained by Hawkins, “The death of Sandra Bland in a Texas jail cell, stemming from a racialized escalation of a simple traffic stop recorded on dash-cam video, remains a mystery, but not an anomaly” (24). As it is known that what happened to Sandra Bland was an act of hatred, it is evident that there is a lack of information. However, there are people who are fighting for the rights of those who are not able. The Black Lives Matter movement is a civilized organization that fights for the rights of minorities who are being treated unfairly by those in superior positions. While BLM gets most of the credit for the assistance towards what is right, there were other groups that triggered the outrage for justice. Joseph illustrates the previous sentence by stating, Like BLM, which was conceived in the wake of across the board occurrences of police ruthlessness, Black Power grew up in the brutal racial scene faced by social equality activists.
On the off chance that Martin Luther King introduced himself as a shield equipped for guarding the dark group from the shades of malice of racial isolation, Malcolm X entered the world stage as a sword fit for overcoming a Jim Crow framework that barred and brutalized dark Americans, showing that while BLM is finishing the job, there were others who fought against the same injustice (Joseph 18). In addition to the racism in America, the current Executive Branch has shown no progress in aiding the bond of all U.S. Joseph states, “Unlike the activists of the civil rights era, those in BLM do not feel forced to make an either/or choice about which model of black liberation struggle they follow” (Joseph 19). Joseph is insisting that the problem in America is not only the ignorance of the higher ups, but also ignorance of those who still practice racism. In addition to the racism in America, the government has shown no progress in aiding the bond of all U.S.
Citizens, in the ways that Black Lives Matter is. Key aspects to ignorance of Americans when it comes to these specific topics are the liable unreliable news sources and stubbornness of those who want to accept change. The world would be different if people could trust what they read to be unbiased. For those that don’t have to worry about if their child will come home alive every night, usually do not think that there is a bias within news sources. Even with that bias, it is very rare to hear about a black cop killing a white child, and the childs mother crying on tv about how he did not deserve it (Gregory 49). Given that POC are unrepresented throughout social media, they usually must represent themselves to spread awareness.
One of those tactics are hashtags that people click to give a viable back story of the whole situation allowing the reader to be aware and to spread the story via social media. An example of those hashtags is, “#YouOkSis and #SayHerName are modern day campaigns made possible by the technological advances of the twenty-first century and fueled by the power of Black Twitter”, these hashtags fuel motivation in situations for women who do not receive credit when it is due (Jones 25). But in the time of crisis, social media may not always do its justice correctly, sometimes it is not necessary to take to the streets and riot. According to Gregory, “If we could ever come together enough, if we had one Christmas boycott against police brutality, then the white folks that are not involved in it — the turkey growers, Disneyland, all you media folks — they would come out and stop it” (Gregory 49). The gameplan that Gregory states is truly something that could work.
Without having to spread our own news via twitter and word of mouth, POC as a whole could force the news and credible reporters to have to come out and do a report. Additionally, there are specific news sources that are know for not being as credible, due to their obvious stances on politics. This statement comes from an article on Fox News written about how cops are the innocent ones in relation to police brutality, in the article Macdonald says, “Several subsidiary untruths buttress that central myth: that the criminal-justice system is biased against blacks; that there is no such thing as a black underclass; and that crime rates are comparable between blacks and whites, so that disproportionate police action in minority neighborhoods cannot be explained without reference to racism” (Macdonald).
This is a great example of how the news will twist any story to flip it around on the victim. It is very hard to see how ignorance and biases are not being confronted more often, as there is clearly an outrage at hand within those who actually care about the future for people of color. In light of all the evidence in plain sight, many still manage to find a way to prove that in most cases of police brutality, it was the victim’s fault. Macdonald further explains, “In the summer of 2014 a lie overtook significant parts of the country and grew into a kind of mass hysteria.
That lie holds that the police pose a mortal threat to black Americans—indeed, that the police are the greatest threat facing black Americans today” (Macdonald). While there are some scenarios where it was the victim’s fault, with further investigation, the police officer in question blew the situation out of proportion. An example of this is written by Wolverton, “Rather than jump blindly to the defense of his deputies, Madison County Sheriff Scott Mellinger handled Johnson’s accusations in a way that should be followed by his fellow sheriffs throughout the country” (Wolverton II 33). To further explain, the head sheriff i the town, had an officer accused of excessive force in one circumstance. Unlike most, sheriff Scott Mellinger did not immediately protect the officer, as it was evident that what the officer did was foul play. If this was the outcome in some of the more serious situations, then maybe the outrage would be less drastic. Another example of excessive force by police officers proclaimed by Wolverton, “Perhaps the most widely reported incident of a police officer exonerated of misuse of deadly force was that of Ferguson, Missouri, Officer Darren Wilson.
In March, the Justice Department cleared Wilson of charges that he violated the civil rights of Michael Brown, who was killed last August” (33-4). A case that will forever go down in history, as one of the most controversial in terms of racial profiling. There were riots in the streets for many days to protest the ruling made for the future of the police officer. One reason for the decision going in favor of the officer, might have to do with the lack of evidence. A claim people make is that there was not enough evidence to prove what actually happened, key evidence that is very supplemental in determining the ruling on such a sensitive case. However, there is also the argument, that POC’s are subjected to profiling and discrimination at a higher rate than other races.
An example of this is exclaimed by Macdonald, “Blacks are killed by police at a lower rate than their threat to officers would predict. To cite more data on this point: in 2013, blacks made up 42 percent of all cop killers whose race was known, even though blacks are only about 13 percent of the nation’s population.” This is a valid argument; however, with the improvements and crackdowns on body cameras and microphones, that explanation is very implausible.
Wolverton states, “During the investigation, surveillance video was released that showed that, contrary to Johnson’s claims, the injuries he claimed were inflicted by the arresting officers were already clearly visible before Johnson was booked” (Wolverton II 33). The arguments against the reality that is police brutality, fail to disprove the hatred and excessive force of which they are oblivious to. Thus proving that there is no argument against police brutality, which is fueled hatred and ignorance. Due to the impact that police brutality has played in the division of the United States, it is something that should be addressed by the government on a broad spectrum. With the division on beliefs on what is truly happening in cases of excessive force, the government refuses to draw attention to it.
Police brutality comes from the lack of leadership in the country, the ignorance of U.S. citizens, and the bias of major news sources, and if the government fails to realize that, this country may divide into its eternal downfall. It is obvious that the higher ups are attempting to play both sides equally in order to keep the country together. However, in times of crisis and unorganization, it would be very supplemental to the cause if the leaders of this country gave stance on each circumstance. In other terms, the last thing needed for this country is for there to be separate sides, based on points of views. In times of crisis, the population as a community need to come together as one covalent bond to comfort all and to stand by eachother.
The government may not be perfect, but they are elected officials who are in their position to represent their people to the fullest. And if the people feel the representative is not doing his/her job to the fullest, then it is at that point when the community should come together to make a change. Instead of blaming the higher ups for what they may or may not be doing, people should use their words to make a difference. If there really is a problem within communities in terms of racial profiling and discrimination, the response is not violence. The response should be peaceful protests to continue the ways of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The practice of peaceful protests solely depends on the union of those who want to make a change.
When everyone comes together, they make up the majority, which in turn forces those in power to notice and satisfy the needs of the people. It is time to stop watching from the sidelines and take action against what is wrong.