A Major Problem of Police Brutality against Black Communities
Over the years, the topic of police brutality against black communities has been a major problem that affects many states across the United States. There have been unwarranted murders in the black community that have clearly caused a national outcry for justice and equality. The issue has gained special notability in recent years thanks to the numerous killings of young black people that have been committed by police officers. Research shows that young black men were nine times more likely to be killed by police than other Americans in 2015 with the total amount of deaths reaching 1,134 at the hands of law enforcement (Swaine et.al., 2015). It does not only demonstrates the systematic problem that police have with use of deadly force, but also the implicit racial bias that the system perpetuates as people of color continue to be victimized the most. Police brutality is not a new phenomenon. The Department of Justice (DOJ) office of Civil Rights (OCR) has investigated more than a dozen police departments in major cities across the USA on allegations of either racial discrimination or police brutality (Gabbidon and Greene 2013). The black community has been fallen prey to the idea that black lives does not matter. Society is in desperate need of a reality check we need a clear understanding of the definition of Community Policing, the responsibility, accountability and the duties. The federal government needs to address police brutality because it inaugurates a deeply-rooted structural complication that has caused indescribable amounts of sorrow and rage as it has been disregarded for too long by those in command and demands to be taken action before any more lives are lost senselessly.
Black community fear for their lives daily and if law enforcement do not hold accountable for the injustice, there will never be true justice and serenity for a nation that demand liberty, fairness, and serenity. In my essay, I will be providing examples of police brutality against black communities and how police brutality effects the health of the people subjected to this sort of torture. As well as, the methods of solving this serious problem with police efficiency. Therefore, I feel social inequality has become worse in today’s society with all of the cases of heinous acts and believe there needs to be a change in the way our justice system is addressing and handling situations like these. Standard operating procedures have played a huge role in police brutality incidents as they are almost always referred as the prime cause on why officers should not be sentenced because they acted or obeyed accordingly to the law. But the author of Racial Profiling Symposium, Theresa A. Martinez believe that was just an excuse for racial profiling. In Martinez’s article, racial profiling can be defined in various ways “”the use of race as a key factor in police decisions to stop and interrogate citizens, “”the use of race as a criterion in police decision making during discretionary traffic and field interrogation stops and “”racial profiling is a crime-fighting strategy – a government policy that treats African Americans, Latinos, and members of other minority groups as criminal suspects on the assumption that doing so will increase the odds of catching criminals (Martinez, 2004). Therefore, I have provided past incidents that illustrates exactly why these problem needs to be made aware in order to prevent further injury or loss of life. These incidents shows a clear disparity between racial profiling and the safety of the public because too many victims have been asserted in events where police officers are just complying by their instructions.
The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates
On July 16, 2009, a professor at Harvard University, Henry Louis Gates, was experiencing some difficulty getting into his home (front door to the house was jammed), so he had to force open the door but he was caught on action by an elderly woman as a break-in (Wilkes, 2010). Gates was then arrested for disorderly conduct on the front porch of his Cambridge, Massachusetts home by Sgt. James P. Crowley, a Cambridge police officer (Wilkes, 2010). Police mugshots of Gates, as well as a photograph of him in handcuffs on his porch, surrounded by armed policemen gone viral, and a message was sent out to the black community that police can do as they wish to whom they wish (Wilkes, 2010). Because of this story, people realized there was racial profiling towards black people up till today. The blacks have been dealing with excessive force, mistreatment, and persecution when unnecessary, due to the color of their skin (Carboda, 2016).
Oscar Grant’s Death
On January 1, 2009, a group of young men returning from New Year revelry were pulled from a train car at a crowded Oakland, California, subway station by Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police officers (McLaughlin et al., 2009). Responding to reports of an alleged altercation, the officers handcuffed most of the young men (McLaughlin et al., 2009). In the resulting confusion, as Grant was seized and pressed face down on the platform, where officer Johannes Mehserle stood above Grant and fired a single shot into his lower back (McLaughlin et al., 2009). The bullet ricocheted off the solid platform and punctured Grant’s lung, resulting in his death seven hours later (McLaughlin et al., 2009). The event was recorded by passengers on the train with their cellphones (Stannard and Bulwa, 2009), and multiple videos of the incident from different angles were uploaded to the internet within a few days. The incident sparked widespread protests and rioting among residents of Oakland, eliciting comparisons with the 1991 beating of a black motorist, Rodney King, that was also captured on camera (Egelko, 2009).
Furthermore, historical evidence of public of black bodies by police dates back at least to the era of slavery, when police controlled blacks and recaptured those who escaped enslavement (Alang et.al., 2017). Blacks were viciously abused in most cases causing to either extreme injuries or death (Alang et.al., 2017). But as others have mentioned, brutality goes greater than physical force; it involves emotional and sexual violence as well as verbal assault and psychological intimidation (Alang et.al., 2017). In the article of Police Brutality and Black Health, the author argues that police brutality is a social determinant of health and today, little experiential work has associated police brutality to poor health among populations who disproportionately involved in brutality (Alang et.al., 2017). In 2005, Dondi Johnson was arrested in Baltimore, Maryland, for public urination and placed in a police vehicle. Mr Johnson entered the police vehicle in otherwise good health and left a quadriplegic, later dying from injuries sustained in the vehicle (Alang et.al., 2017). Videos such as that of Eric Garner saying, I can’t breathe 11 times until he lost consciousness or that of Diamond Reynolds (the girlfriend of Philando Castile, who was killed by police in Falcon Heights, MN, 2016) stating to the police officer, You shot four bullets into him, sir. He was just getting his license and registration, sir (Alang et.al., 2017). All of these events intelligibly demonstrates that police brutality has a large impact on the health of blacks.
After much studies, these are the intersecting mechanisms through police brutality that links to excess morbidity among blacks; (1) fatal injuries that increase population-specific mortality rates for some victims of police brutality, death is not immediate but results from repeated physical injury while in police custody (Alang et.al., 2017). (2) Adverse physiological responses that increase morbidity witnessing or encountering harassment, routine unwarranted inspects, and deaths that go unpunished sends a message to black community that their bodies are police property, disposable, and undeserving of equity and dignity (Chaney et.al., 2013). (3) Racist public relations that cause stress or anxiety arguing that victims were somehow responsible for their own untimely murders (dissecting the guilt or innocence of the murdered persons versus understanding how White supremacy might have caused this) (Alang et.al., 2017). (4) Arrests, incarcerations, and legal, medical, and funeral bills that cause financial strain job loss after incarceration, survivors of brutality may have to deal with disabilities resulting from police use of excessive force (Alang et.al., 2017). Which means, disability decreases efficiency and the ability to accumulate financial resources. Financial strain and poverty affect the health of blacks by limiting access to healthy food, exposing families to environmental hazards and poor housing conditions, and making it more difficult to access health services (Szanton et.al., 2010). Lastly, (5) desegregated brutal structures that cause structured disempowerment unrestrained police force and insufficient prosecution of perpetrators might surge sense of powerlessness in the black community, reducing recognition of gains made by the civil right movements (Alang et.al., 2017).
Despite all of that, there are certainly ways to prevent this problem and from what I have read, police efficiency such as community policing and diminishing the inherent fear of blacks by hiring more persons of color who are acquainted with the communities in which they work may ease the problem of police harassment or misbehavior (Gee, 2004). (1) Making the Police Commission more elected and diverse by expanding the Commission from five to seven members and dividing the appointment power between the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors (Gee, 2004). (2) Expanding the Police Commission’s independence by staggering the terms of Commissioners and precluding removal without the consent of the Supervisors (Gee, 2004). (3) Making visible that the Office of Citizen Complaints must have permission to all necessary records in managing its investigations and lastly, (4) giving the Office of Citizen Complaints the ability to convey cases immediately to the Police Commission, prohibiting cases from being disregarded (Gee, 2004). Hence, I do believe that if all of these are taken into actions, the rate of death for black community in police brutality will decrease.