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The history of Police Brutality for minorities; especially people of color has left America wondering have times changed. Police brutality has deemed the opportunity for socioeconomic advancement or access to good and services for many Black/African Americans dating back as far as 1955. The system of Police brutality has affected many realms of society for minorities’ employment and family life. After some scholarly research, police brutality is still prevalent in the Black/African American community; moreover, it comes in many different forms and fashions. Police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. Excessive use of force is a means of force well beyond what would be necessary in order to handle a situation. This research seeks to understand the history of police brutality and how it continues to be prevalent; if not, more prevalent in presently than in the past.
The history of police brutality dates back to slavery, encompasses the civil rights movement, and defines the growing accounts of modern situation in which Blacks/African Americans have been treated wrong by law enforcement. Elijah Anderson (2000) claims, “the idea of the race man goes back to the segregated Black/African American community, in fact all the way back to slaver” (Elijah Anderson, 2). Modern leaders like Jesse Jackson could be viewed as a race man; meaning, his help is deeply imbedded when he feels the Black/African American community has been treated unjust. As a leaders of the Black/African American community, there is always a time to become actively involved in the community, especial pertaining to police brutality. Secondly, Emmett Till is another example of police brutality, but in another form.
Note, Emmett Till was not beaten by the police; however, his brutal beaten came from a group of white men in Money, Mississippi. I define this travesty as police brutality due to the milestone of social inequality that police brutality has fed off of. Bob Blauner (1992) reveals, “Chicagoan Emmett Till in Mississippi has been awakening to the end of social equality (Bob Blauner, 1). Instances such as the brutal killing of Emmett Till led to the civil rights movement. The civil rights movement was geared toward helping not only Blacks/African American community, but helping America dismantle discrimination, segregation, lynching, double standards of laws and rules, police brutality and overall equality. The civil rights movement was filled with many acts of police brutality. For instance, a woman in Riverside, California was shot several times by law enforcement officers. They claim they were threaten by her, but had no idea this woman was engulfed in a diabetic coma.
Legalized Cop Violence (1999) shares, “Dontae Dawson was sitting in his car and was ordered to raise his hands, when he did he fatally shot and killed the officer claims he thought the young man had a gun” The New York News, 12). The civil rights era proved that law enforcement officers did not serve the poor, the powerless or the un-influential. The legalized violence that was committed throughout the civil rights era has drastically changed; however, police brutality is still presently evident. For instance, officers of the law are servants of the state. They hold deeply to the interest of capital, wealth, and government to corporate figures. Currently, Black/African American leaders are still dealing with the vicious killing of two youth. These two particular situations has rocked the nation. First, Trayvon Martin, who was seventeen years old was walking from a community store in Sanford, Florida and was shoot to death at close range. No, he was not shot by the police; moreover, this situation has ignited once again racial inequality which is no stranger to police brutality.
Although Trayvon Martin’s assassin was found not guilty, laws in the State of Florida allows citizens to stand they ground if they feel threaten. The 2014 State Statues of Florida 76.013 reveals, “home protection; use or threatened use of deadly force; presumption of fear of death or great bodily harm” is permitted. Despite the important racial progresss our society has made since Emmett Till’s death, from the civil rights era, to present increase of police brutality has still left the Black/African American community in shadows of segregation. The second most recent shooting of teenager Michael Brown has left citizens in ongoing battles with law enforcement officers of Ferguson, Missouri. New Statement (2014) reports, Missouri police similarly attempted to retain control of the narrative, claiming Brown had stolen cigars, and then paying for them, and then claiming he was a bad child and attacked the officer who shot him” (New Statement, 21).
Brown autopsy reveals he was gun less and shot six times. Police brutality is not solely about Ferguson, Emmett Till, or the civil rights movement, but it is simply about the history of capitalism and police brutality in America and having many forms of it. Which leads us to the question has times really changed are is police brutality still very surreal. Granted we talked mostly about Emmet Till, Trayvon Martin Michael Brown, and the civil rights these are not the only men or eras in time where police brutality has and still to this day is taking place. A few others who have suffered and died from police brutality include: Ezzel Ford who was mentally disabled and John Crawford III who was playing with a toy gun in the toy section of Wal-Mart. I know there are more people and time eras that have faced police brutality but these are just a few that are having a major impact on the world as we see it today. Which rises brings us to the question is Police Brutality the problem or as we as African America/ Blacks causing the problems and then when police are called to settle or solve the problem we over react or act as if we have done nothing wrong.
Some cases in which police were called to a scene and they were hurt or out in danger include in July of 1920 five police were called to a home in New York to settle a dispute between two brothers where in return all five of the cops were injured, another time is in September of 1991 when three of duty officers in the state of New York were in a argument with a 18year old who in return pulled out a box cutting razor knife slashing one of the officers. Now I am not saying that because of these incidents this gives cops a reason to act the way that they do, but my question again is are we as African Americans/Blacks completely innocent or do we sometimes react to situations when cops are just doing their jobs that make them feel threatened so they have to kill. Yet there are more and better ways to deal with situations. Just like we the people should not always resort to violence and killing and committing black on black or white on white crime police need to and should follow the same rules of the world.
Every man woman boy and girl should be treated how they would want to be treated. I’m sure the way police treat African Americans/Blacks when we commit crimes is not how they would want their family and or friends to be treated. There are some people who think that the way to downgrade police brutality is to adopt more white ways specifically the white perspective and to manifest intensively. Granted this is true; however, I do believe that just like us African Americans can sometimes over react and over step our boundaries, I believe that cops have a bad habit of doing this as well. Yes your job as a police officer is to protect and serve the communities that you are in but moreover we are all humans and at this day in age no one is better than the next person no matter what race ethnicity sex or community you live in we are all said to be treated equal but are we treated as equals? If we were would there be so much police brutality and hostility toward police.
Since the Trayvon Martin, and Michael Brown case I can see and understand why so many people have so much hate in their hearts. Although Trayvon Martin was not shot by a police officer he was shot by “a watchman of the area” Which in my opinion means if you are here to watch our neighborhood and protect us then he should of known \who Trayvon was he should have been tolerant t figure out if Trayvon was really a threat to the neighborhood or if he was just “overreacting and looking for somebody to shot” and the same with Michael Brown who was actually shot by police men were the jumping the gun and did not take the time to find out if he really was stealing or if there was a miscommunication which I believe that’s what it was. Which leaves us to the question with the belief that slavery has ended and that all people are equal; then why is that police have and continue to get away with the brutally killing of African Americans.
Abu-Jamal, M. (1999). Legalized Cop Violence. New York: The New York Amsterdam News.
Anderson, E. (2000). Beyond the Melting Pot Reconsidering. International Migration Review , 1-7.
Anderson, E. (2014). Emmett and Trayvon. Washington: The Washington Monthly.
Blauner, B. (1992). Talking Past Each Other: The Black and White Language of Race. The American Prospect , 1-6.
Edwards, B. (2014). 4 Dead Unarmed Men and the Police: What You Need to Know. The Root.
Penny, L. (2014, August 20). Welcome to America, Where Police Shoot an Unarmered Black MAn Six Times-and then call him a Villain. New Statesman , pp. 22-28.
Tucker, W. (1993, January). Is Police Brutality the Problem? Commentary , pp. 23-28.