Atop the various activities that constitute police misconduct is police brutality. Notably, police brutality is not an American problem or a problem that is only prevalent in certain regions. Police brutality is widespread and it is sad to note that its extremity appears to be on the rise in some jurisdictions. It is quite appalling to see citizens suffer in the hands of those that have sworn to protect them. What is even more petrifying is the collision between police and various actors throughout the justice system to perpetrate such misconduct on grounds of color of law which is in itself illegal. In other cases, police brutality roots purely from destructive stereotypes such as racism and religious segregation (Chaney and Robertson, p480). This essay delves on police brutality and its influence on various issues.
How does the murder of unarmed black people by police support white supremacy?
The establishment and enforcement of white supremacy puts white people at a pedestal and subsequently offers them an array of advantages and perks that significantly undermine the wellbeing of individuals from other ethnic backgrounds. In this context, African Americans are the ones who experience the repercussions of white supremacy at the most intense degree. This is accredited to the fact that the illicit movement curbs all efforts of black men with regards to autonomy; as such efforts would undermine the values as well as the foundation of white supremacy. White supremacists use the tactic that views the black folk as both “dangerous and subhuman” as narrated by Officer Darren. This way, the murder and brutalization of African American citizen become more de-sensitized to the population, eventually leading to the lack of punishment for said crimes (Nuwer, p44).
White supremacy is inherently reinforced when juries actively deny that African Americans undergo numerous forms of victimization and inhumanity. Because of the significant number of white individuals making up the juries, the probability is high that most of the jury members would share similar views as the law enforcement officers who would stand trial for crimes specifically against African American folk (Chaney and Robertson, p45). This is to say that a greater portion of the jury would have comparable opinions to the police with regards to their disdain of the black community, and in turn would fail to convict any white law enforcement officer for perpetrating illegal acts against black folk.
In retrospect, police exhibition of brutality towards minority groups during the era of slavery in the US was strangely similar to tactics used by supporters of white supremacy to oppress African Americans and correspondingly reinforce the might of the white folk (Chaney and Robertson, p46). Not quite different from acts of inhumanity being witnessed from police today, policing during that era was accompanied by acts of utter impunity and the dispensation of horrendous forms of ‘justice’ that involved tortures such as lashings, maiming, castrations, and unrestricted lynching. In fact, the killing of slaves was considered an effective remedy in ensuring that minorities toed the line and became so prevalent during that time, which saw over three thousand minority members lose their lives. A significant portion of that tally comprised African Americans who were often accused of disrespecting specific racial norms.
What do non-indictments of police suggest about the lives of unarmed black people?
The non-indictment of police officers responsible for the mistreatment or the murder of members of minority groups such as African Americans tends to trigger specific propositions with regards to the lives of unarmed black individuals (Chaney and Robertson, p45). For starters, the perception that the lives of white folk are intrinsically more important than those of black people is created and more so reinforced when members of law enforcement responsible for the loss of black lives do not face indictment.
Regardless of the fact that a huge portion of the white demographic may find fault in the statement, facts and past records prove beyond reasonable doubt that the police as well as other law enforcement members seldom face indictment, neither are they convicted for the maiming or murder of unarmed black persons (Nuwer, p44). Looking back, between the year 1999 and 2015, cases in which guilty officers were indicted were merely thirteen (Alang, p1128). To put this into perspective, in every 6 cases where officers were facing indictment for the excessive use of force when dealing with the African American demographic, only one did officers get charged.
Similar to the views of Critical Race Theory, the law enforcement officer was responsible for validating the justification of the manslaughter of a helpless black elderly lady in her very own home (Alang, p1127). This is a gross display of the superiority rendered to the white race with a corresponding relegation of the African American race, as well as the absence of justice being denied to the black individual even after their demise.
Secondly, the manslaughter of women from the black community does not receive “half as much attention as the murder of black males” as illustrated by Dionne, which regrettably renders the execution of African American essentially without consequence (Nuwer, p44). In reference to a law article, identities of unarmed African American women murdered by law enforcement officers seldom resonates in the public spectrum as potently as those of black men such as Michael Brown. It’s heartbreaking that the demise of black ladies at the hands of the police does not trigger similar degrees of nationwide outbursts in comparison to the death of thirteen-year-old Zimbabwean lion named Cecil that was poached unlawfully by a rich Midwesterner in 2015. The perpetual invisibility of these demises is heart-rending since the State barely recognizes the emptiness that is felt by individuals close to and relatives of these women.
In addition, the social standing of African American children is quickly being rendered fragile by the non-indictment of law enforcement officers in the United States. It is disappointing and saddening that black children are perceived to be rehabilitation candidates and are prevalently associated with criminal activities rather than being viewed as innocent young citizens (Nuwer, p44). This was clearly exhibited when media houses made a monster of a young African American male called Trayvon Martin who was labeled as a physically and athletically gifted drug-dealing thug (Nuwer, p46). This was despite the fact that during his time of death he had engaged in no criminal activity. Due to the perception that white supremacy aims to create with regards to race, white children are more often than not considered to be virtuous while on the other hand, African American children are viewed as guilty.
Can better training help?
Several studies suggest that is possible to reduce levels of inherent bias through subjecting officers to exposure. An experiment using a shooter video game was used by psychologists from Florida State where both white and black suspects in the game were equally expected not to be bearing arms. Officers participating in the experiment proved to be more accurate and less prejudiced while targeting suspects. Nonetheless, they were quicker to pull the trigger at black assailants than white ones when they chose to fire. It is however not proven that such enhancements through training could directly translate from the lab to actual situations. Different research also displays that incrementing the number of positive encounters with members of minority groups could aid in blunting the innate bias.
That notwithstanding, regardless of the degree of promise the aforementioned studies show, it would be ill-advised to compare real-world settings to virtual simulations appearing on screens. The actual world has added pre-existing conditions that cannot be controlled. Despite the fact that statistics on police shootings of unarmed African Americans suggests that unwarranted prejudice plays a pivotal role, the association of the two, regardless of how convincing is only correlational. Herein lies the million-dollar question, whether law enforcement officers are zeroing in on race, or is the color of skin confusing the real variable driving the gap.
It is unclear whether a police officer would treat differently a white individual in the same residence as a black one, wearing similar attire and exhibiting the same behaviors. Presently, official national data, as well as records of law enforcement-involved shootings, are non-existent. Contrary to previous belief that one can’t hide a human body, personnel from the criminal-justice-statistics often miss a considerable number of homicides, which is partially accredited to the fact that they classify them as accidental demises, and that the Bureau of Justice Stats doesn’t directly follow-up on officer-involved shootings. It is needless to state that if there’s a lack of fundamental understanding about policing and the role played by unwarranted bias in it, it highly likely to know even less regarding countermeasures. Probability is high that most current proposals aimed at reducing such occurrences at this time are founded on opinion and speculation rather than concrete evidence.
How do individuals perceive the police department?
Responses drawn from 36 individuals who were part of an investigative study on the perception of the people about the police were quite varied. Regardless of the variance, the greater portion of the segment disclosed to have negative attitudes towards law enforcement officers (Austen, p3). Members of the respondents that held this opinion not only had contempt for police officers but also exhibited significant levels of suspicion with regards to how they conducted their policing activities and further viewed them as guilty parties engaging in police brutality.
That notwithstanding, the collection holding contrary opinion accredited its standpoint its creation of a distinction between law enforcement personnel. This is to say that not all law enforcement personnel appointed by the government were dirty and that departments such as firefighting crews, as well as EMTS workers, were considered to be law-abiding enforcers (Austen, p3). It was largely due to the fact that both of the aforementioned departments actively engaged in the saving of lives, in contrast to the police department. Results from the study also displayed that most people had well-founded doubts with regards to the police acting in a manner depicting honor was accredited to the fact that it was public knowledge that most police were fully aware of their inappropriate actions, especially when using force, and subsequently attempted to conceal their misdeeds, as well as those of their fellow police colleagues. They believed that if statistics were provided exhibiting the number of times the police looked the other way or covered for their partners in the event of an unlawful transaction, most of the police would be found wanting.
Further findings showed that people believed there was a disparity in reference to the laws and regulations that applied to normal citizens and those that applied to law enforcement officers. With this in mind, police officers in a way held the upper hand in making decisions that would hurt citizens because they were aware of the double standard in existence providing leeway for them to conduct unlawful deeds. Moreover, respondents claimed that police officers often demanded respect from members of the society while blatantly disregarding the same when dealing with the people. They viewed the law and justice as two different entities.
Critics may stand behind the point of view that statistics display that African Americans exhibit higher levels of disregard for the law and law enforcement personnel. The rise in criminal activities is predominantly seen in black neighborhoods, and black-on-black violence has reached an all-time high due to the increased number of youths engaging in illegal activity. Nonetheless, this number has grown and has been growing due to the levels of poverty being experienced in these areas. Moreover, the lack of enough resources can be largely accredited to the current form of governance that tends to lock out African American folks who seek jobs and better ways of living. Moreover, the widespread incarceration of black males has left a void with respect to family breadwinners, leaving the youth to seek alternative means of putting food on the table.
Alang, Sirry. "The More Things Change, the More Things Stay the Same: Race, Ethnicity, and Police Brutality." (2018): 1127-1128.
Austen, Ben. "To Protect and to Serve. Really." The New Republic. N.p., 2018. Web. 1 Dec. 2018.
Chaney, Cassandra, and Ray V. Robertson. "Armed and dangerous? An examination of fatal shootings of unarmed black people by police." Journal of Pan African Studies 8.4 (2015): 45-78.
Chaney, Cassandra, and Ray V. Robertson. "Racism and police brutality in America." Journal of African American Studies 17.4 (2013): 480-505.
Nuwer, Rachel. "When Cops Lose Control." Scientific American Mind 26.6 (2015): 44-51.