This research focused on the history of police brutality against Latinos in the U.S. and thedifferent types of police brutality. It starts off with an overview of what police brutality is and providing examples of police brutality in the different states.
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The examples intend to provide the reader with knowledge of how police brutality affects the Latino community and some other minority groups. Additionally, it talks about injunctions and the system of points (used in Boston), which allow police officers and city attorneys to unfairly label teenagers that live in low-income areas as gang members making it easier for them to be deported or detained and violating their constitutional rights.
The purpose of this research paper is to inform people about the fact that police brutality against Latinos is a thing. Many people are completely unaware that this is a problem that many members of the Latino community face on a daily basis. They believe that discrimination is history because they do not see anything on the news talking about police brutality due to discrimination. The reason for this is that the government and the media makes sure that cases like this do not go out public because they are worried that public trust could be affected or what people could do if they find about such thing. However, public figures and members of the government sometimes promote these behaviors. As mentioned in Richard Horniak’s study,Opinion is dependent of the education of person, of the characteristic of his work and his activities, insufficiency of information and knowledge about the subject, which significantly restricts rational core of the opinion, which then can be just shallowly and incorrectly evaluated certain type of phenomenon or event (2016). Therefore, a police officer that did not get the proper training or lacks knowledge about immigration topics, what discrimination is, or different topics relating Latinos could be easily influenced by anything mentioned on the media or by any member of the government.
The term police brutality was used as early as 1872, when Chicago Tribune reported on the beating of a civilian under arrest at the Harrison Street Police Station. Police brutality is a civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than necessary. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 2003 and 2009 at least 4,813 people died while being arrested. In addition 2,876 of the deaths were classified as law enforcement homicides and 57.1% of the people who died were “people of color”. Another case that caught people’s attention was RodneyKing’s case. Rodney King ad his 2 passengers were brutally beaten while a civilian recorded everything. Due to the media coverage and the charges against the police officers involved the trial occurred only hours later (Matiash, Rothman, 2016), However, due to this Los Angeles riotsof 1992 commenced.On the other hand the history of Latino-American discrimination began in 1848 when the U.S won the Mexican American War (Blakemore, 2017). The 19th century political events in Mexico caused emigration to the U.S. This was good for American workers since it meant cheap labor (IE. help building new railroad tracks etc.). However as a result of this discrimination rose and Latinos were segregated into urban barrios in poor areas. Additionally, illegal deportations, school segregation, and lynching occurred. In some cases people from the Latino community were being persecuted by mobs and ignored by the police. In Texas, there has been a struggle for equity by the state’s Latino population. It goes back to even before Texas became a state and has ranged from mob violence and massacres-some perpetrated by Texas Rangers- to voting and employment discrimination and school and housing segregation. No one was ever punished for any of this, the Texas police mainly ignored and in occasions cases of discrimination since it is something that goes back years in history and they consider this something normal.
On the other hand officials in Boston and other cities mentioned that their cities are safe spaces for immigrants. This was mainly due to the Trump’s administration deportation efforts. However, this is not true, in reality they are making it easier for deportations to occur. Young immigrants are being slandered and deprived of their rights. They are being targeted and unfairlyalleged to be involved in different gangs, which makes it easier for their deportation to occur since they are put in the Boston Police Department database. Teenagers, who mainly left their country to escape violence, are being arrested and deported just because of whom they are, whom they know, and even what they wear. They are being accused of being in a gang using a system called the house of cards. Without them knowing they earn “points” and the police officers decide which points apply to who. These “points” enable law enforcement to label people as gang members even if they have never been suspected of any wrong doing or have done anything illegal (Holper, Valentin, 2018).
In Puerto Rico, they have the second largest police department in the U.S, which is plagued by a culture of unrestrained abuse and brutality (ACLU, 2012). Some of the abuses presented in the ACLU report were: Use of excessive force against civilians in poor areas and black neighborhoods (often resulting in death or serious injuries), violent suppression of peacefulprotestors (using batons, rubber bullets, and toxic form of tear gas), and failure to protect victimsof domestic violence and investigate crimes. In 2010 and 2011, PRPD officers killed at least 21 civilians. The per capita rate of fatal police shooting in 2010 was almost triple that of New York. This is due to the lack of procedures to monitor and investigate abuse complaints-which tend to be covered up by the government as mentioned in the report. In addition to inadequate systems totrain, supervise and discipline officers.
Another example of police brutality would be the Stop-and-Frisk phenomenon. This is a strategy that encourages cops to stop and questions mainly minority citizens first and come up with reasons later. Based on the fourth amendment, police officers can legally stop and detain a person only with reasonable suspicion that a person committed a crime or is about to do so. Therefore, the stop-and-frisk goes against the fourth amendment since as Judge Shira Scheindlin,of Federal District Court in New York, mentioned and ruled tactics underlying New York’s City stop-and –frisk program violates constitutional rights of minority citizens (Editorial Board of the New York Times, 2013).On the other hand, police brutality is mainly the result of stereotypes created by the media and the government. Stereotypes are widely but fixed and oversimplified image or idea of a particular type of person or thing. It undermines officer’s self-legitimacy, encouraging overreliance on force and coercion to maintain situational control (Arizona State University study). This leads to a decrease in public trust.
Additionally, police officers use of racial profiling could be an example of police brutality. Racial profiling is a practice by law enforcement officials of targeting individuals for suspicion of crime based on the person’s race, ethnicity, religion, or national origin. It mainly focuses on certain characteristics that are believed to be associated with crime. An example of racial profiling could be the targeting of Arabs and Muslims as a result of the September 11thattack.Racial profiling could be associated with injunctions. An injunction is a civil suit that seeks a court order declaring the gang’s public behavior a nuisance and asking for special rules directed toward its activity. They are mainly used to criminalize young Black and Latino men in areas where there is a lot of crime. It mainly turns common behavior into crimes. They started in Los Angeles and were based off police and city attorney’s opinion. The Youth Coalition and ACLU challenged the city’s enforcement of injunctions since they argued that they violate the constitutionally protected due process rights.
A federal court agreed, finding that the process wasprone to error and granting a preliminary injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing its injunctions against anyone who has not had the opportunity to challenge the designation in court before they were made subject to the injunction.Injunctions are something similar to Boston’s system of points. Since in both the gang designations are the result of stereotypes and preconceptions based on: clothing, associates (friends), and if you live in alleged gang areas.All in all police brutality is something that could be avoided if things like community policing programs existed in more low-income communities. They intend to build public trust between the community and the police and prevent segregation. In addition, every state should have something like Saint Paul’s report. This is a program that mainlycollects data on arrests and analyzes that data to come up with conclusions on who is more prone to getting arrested or whether they should change something in police training. These solutions are important because they could help prevent police brutality not only against Latinos but also other minority groups. As mentioned before police brutality decreases public trust, which can lead to riots or many otherthings that are not good for the people or the government. Therefore, it is important that the government pay attention to the various forms of police brutality and comes up with more solutions so bigger problems can be prevented.
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M. (2018, March 27). LAPD Gang Injunctions Gave Cops a License to Harass and Control Black and Latino Residents. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/lapd-gang-injunctions-gave-cops-license-harass
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