Problem of Police Brutality in Chicago
The brutality of the police in the United States is considered as one of the serious social problems affecting several cities across the country specifically in Chicago. Police brutality is the use of unnecessary, unfair, illegal, unauthorized, and unwarranted force, violence or brutality by law enforcement agents (police) against members of the public (civilians) whether they have broken the law or not. In recent years, the issue has gained popularity especially with the numerous killing of people carried out by law enforcement agents. Unfortunately, most of the victims of these killings have been young black people and minorities. In the city of Chicago, the police fire a shot to someone every day, on average. Since 2011, the police shot 435 bullets killing 92 people and injuring 170. Very few of these incidences were captured by the mainstream media and were brutally executed by the police. Racial profiling and discrimination are behind these killings. For instance, out of five deaths, four were African-Americans (Hamilton, & Foote, 2018).
Police brutality has agitated a section of the members of the public in various states who have organized themselves into multiple movements to oppose the trend, especially the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. There are different criticisms levied against the police forces in the United States of America, and one of them is unfair discrimination against the people of color. The opposing voices to police brutality have observed that police are lenient towards the white people but cruel and brutal to those of color. It is important to note that there have been many movements in the U.S fighting for social equality, for example, ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement which resembles previous movements in the history of the country. Various personalities have emerged in history to defend the rights and freedoms of the marginalized in the country. The most outstanding observation about these movements is that police brutality, as well as social discrimination against the people of color, has been perennial issues that never disappear. The problems persist in the country even after a series of changes and reforms. However, it is disheartening to see that even in these modern times, people of color and those who confess different religion like Islam continue to face similar threats of police brutality and discrimination as previous generations. The failure of the U.S government to address this menace demonstrates that there may exist in the minds of many people substantial mental barriers that obstruct social progress.
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How it works
The knowledge that most of the police brutalities go unaccounted for presents a lot of challenges to society. Many reasons exist to explain this reality. For instance, in most cases, the police office hides behind the idea that they were dealing with a potential criminal. In a hypothetical killing situation, the police officers always claim that they committed an act in the name of self-defense. What is more surprising is that it is easy for the jury or the judge to believe the narrative of the police especially where there is a lack of more evidence apart from the statement of the parties involved. If racial prejudice is at play, it only means that many people of color will face not only unfair convictions but also imprisonments thanks to police brutality in the first place.
According to Owen (2016), there is even a much bigger problem in the U.S, as far as police brutality is concerned, as the problem seems to be strongly connected to racism. There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that law enforcement officers harass and arrest people of color more than whites. It is also important to note that many young black people have lost their lives in the hands of the police officers. For instance, between 2014 and 2016 nine high-profile killings of young black people took place. Unfortunately, only one of them has led to a conviction (Garner, 2014).
Rendering to the data gathered and shared by the Chicago Tribune in 2016, four-fifths of the killings perpetrated by the police officers were of a young black person (Richards et al., 2016). The Chicago Tribune Report of 2016 only reveals the risks that young people of color go through in their societies. However, one can argue that this report only provides statistics of crime rates among young people of color. On the contrary, there is massive evidence suggesting that there is more to crime rates revelations. For example, Washington Post conducted a study that demonstrated that most cases in which the police were involved, as far as killing black people, did not involve lethal threat that warranted the killing by the police officers on the scene (Lowery, 2016). The research indicated that the police officers might just be biased against non-white people who they believe to be potential criminals. It can also suggest that some of the police officers are abusing their power with full knowledge to conduct racist attacks devoid of facing a similar fate of legal prosecution.
Laquan McDonald was a teenager and was shoot by the police on October 20, 2014 in Chicago Illinois. McDonald had been seen carrying a knife and breaking into cars. After police arrived, he slashed the tires of a police cruiser and refused to follow commands to drop the weapon, according to the police report. Van Dyke, the police officer who arrived to the scene, fired 16 shots at McDonald seconds after he emerged from his vehicle. McDonald did not present an imminent danger to the police officer when he began firing. Van Dyke was charged with first degree murder and was indicted on six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct. The family of McDonald got a five-million-dollar settlement. This case took several years.
Elaina Turner is a woman that had a miscarriage after a police officer used a stun gun at her on the afternoon of August 2, 2013, to tow Green’s van, Turner fiancé at that time. The couple maintains there was no legitimate reason for the tow, and they began arguing with the officers about why the car was being taken. Turner, who was several weeks pregnant at the time, started filming the interaction on her phone. She asked to retrieve three of her children’s car seats and Green’s work boots and badge from the vehicle before they towed it, and was told she could not. Turner said officer Patrick Kelly used his stun gun on her three times, hitting her stomach, leg and arm. She claims the officer used the weapon while she was standing and again after she was on the ground. The couple filed a lawsuit and won a compensation of $500K on 2017.
Maurice Granton a 24-year-old man fatally shot by a Chicago police officer on June 6, 2018, the Chicago Police Department said Maurice Granton, Jr., was shot after failing to stop during a police chase in the Bronzeville neighborhood. Videos show Granton running from one officer, eluding that officer by quickly scaling a fence that borders a gravel parking lot, and being shot while on or getting down from a second fence seconds later. Within four minutes, police stand over a pistol about 20 to 30 feet from his body. The officer who killed Granton was placed on routine administrative leave for 30 days in June of that year.
Opposition View Points
There are various explanations and theories why police discrimination and brutality exist against people of color. One explanation points to the bitter history of the United States marred with segregation, racism, and slavery. Racial tensions existed in the country to the mid-21st century. This reality prompted police officers to employ a strategy of brutally treating and discriminating against people of color in pursuant to criminal offenders (Owen, 2016). It is also essential to note that individuals are allowed to abuse their social position (police officer) in some cases to conduct hate crimes that are racially motivated. These crimes are later ignored or justified as carrying out his duty of keeping the society safe.
In a developed democracy that endeavors to appeal to the world as a good example, it is unacceptable to see the police treating her citizens not only unequally but with brutality. In some states of the country, the police officers are allowed to get away with brutality. When racial prejudice is used as a basis to decide who walks free and who is imprisoned, it is illegal and poses a severe threat to democracy. When we have people in positions entrusted by the society freely abusing the law for selfish gains at the expense of innocent civilians, it is easier to breed oppressive and undemocratic society. Regardless of ethnic background, police brutality should be a worrying concern. Police brutality, as well as discrimination, interferes with the people’s lives regardless of whether they are innocent civilians or criminals. Millions of people of the targeted populations live in fear of being a potential candidate of police brutality. It is even worse when the potential victim and the police officer know that such acts go unaccounted for. The issue has led to significant challenges in society to an extent that psychologists are suggesting that it can result in emotional and psychological trauma to people of color even by just hearing or reading about it in media (Turner, 2016). As a consequence, many people may turn out to develop anxieties and anti-social behavior making society more ungovernable.
Compare and Contrast
In Los Angeles California, Police officers and sheriff’s deputies shot people in 78 incidents in 2017, according to figures provided to KPCC by the county District Attorney. That’s down from the previous two years, but in line with the general trend of recent years. Law enforcement officers in the county have been involved in 1,520 shootings between 2000 and the end of 2017, according to the data. The shootings tracked by the D.A. include incidents in which suspects were shot and killed, as well as non-fatal shootings. They also include shootings by off-duty police officers and sheriff’s deputies. On the other hand, in Canada, approximately 460 people have been killed as a result of police brutality since 2000. Studies show that the majority of the victims were suffering from mental health symptoms or issues of drug abuse (Carty, 2017).
Solutions and Implementations
From an optimistic angle, police brutality appears to be an issue that will be a thing of the past with the advent of technologies. Many things are now possible because of technology. For instance, accountability and oversight on the part of the police officers will improve. The use of dash cameras in police settings will record everything taking place owing to their strategic location on the car (front of the vehicle). The use of technology will protect the police officers from false claims by members of the public besides instilling accountability behavior. However, the potential of abuse will still face a challenge as the dash cameras have a problem of only focusing on a limited angle. The government is adopting body cameras as a solution to this problem. It is installing them all across police forces in the country. The body cameras will gather potential information, as far as police brutality is concerned, which is admissible in court during criminal proceedings. According to Wiley (2017), body cameras allow police officers with integrity and honesty to escape wrongful convictions of police brutality. It is important to know how to use technology in these cases, the number of convictions in police brutality cases has risen dramatically, and for one major reason: people are carrying fully functional video cameras with them everywhere they go in the form of cell phones and smartphones. When people sense a possible case of police brutality, or when they see an injustice, they wisely start up their iPhone video recorders and mobile devices. In many cases, the abuse will never occur as soon as the potential victim or observer pulls out his or her phone. Second, the victim’s Chicago police brutality attorney can use the video file to empirically prove that a police officer broke the law and caused injury.
The widespread use of social media and the internet have acted as techniques for civic education and creating awareness about unequal treatment and police brutality. The problem of police brutality is now a public issue thanks to social media and the internet. Many people and communities will gain their voices through social media something that many people could only dream of before the advent of the internet. Today, it is common to see any story gaining a large international audience owing to its impact. As a result, many police brutality acts are hard to hide and let them go unpunished.
Police brutality is not only an unfortunate social phenomenon but real as well. It leads to abuse, persecutions, and discriminations that are unethical and unlawful of millions of people. Many people live in fear after learning that the police forces are prejudiced against them. For a very long time, the police officers have considered the people of color in the U.S as a threat than the fact. This stereotype is reinforced by the comparison with the white population as far as crime statistics are concerned. Some police officers have either an ingrained prejudice mentality or a personal world-view that is negative courtesy of bitter American history. Regardless of the side that one picks, the reports and ongoing cases of police brutality is an indication that much still needs to be done on social justice. It is important to understand that not all cops are bad cops. In fact, the majority of police officers have your wellbeing at the forefront of their mind and work every day to promote peace and safety. You can help these police officers by communicating with them, getting to know the officers in your own neighborhood, and thanking and supporting police officers that uphold the law with compassion and pride. In addition, you can be part of the solution by engaging in peaceful organized protests in your community.
- Carty, V. (2017). Case Studies of Protest Activity in Canada and the United States. Social Inclusion and Usability of ICT-enabled Services.
- Garner, E. (2014). “After 9 High-Profile Police-Involved Deaths of African-Americans, What Happened to The Officers?”. WBUR. Retrieved from: http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2016/07/11/america-police-shooting-timeline.
- Hamilton, A. R., & Foote, K. (2018). Police torture in Chicago: theorizing violence and social justice in a racialized city. Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 108(2), 399-410.
- Lowery, W. (2016). “Aren’t More White People Than Black People Killed By Police? Yes, But No.”. Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/post-nation/wp/2016/07/11/arent-more-white-people-than-black-people-killed-by-police-yes-but-no/.
- Matthew Hickman (2006-06-26). “Citizen Complaints about Police Use of Force”. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Archived from the original.
- Owen, T. (2016). “Black and Hispanic People More Likely to Be Victims of Police Brutality, Study Says”. VICE News. Retrieved from: https://news.vice.com/article/black-and-hispanic-people-more-likely-to-be-victims-of-police-brutality-study-says.
- Richards et al. (2016). “92 Deaths, 2,623 Bullets: Tracking Every Chicago Police Shooting Over 6 Years”. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved from: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/watchdog/ct-chicago-police-shooting-database-met-20160826-story.html.
- Turner, E. (2016). “Racial Trauma Is Real: The Impact of Police Shootings on African Americans”. Psychology Benefits Society. Retrieved from: https://psychologybenefits.org/2016/07/14/racial-trauma-police-shootings-on-african-americans/.
- Wiley, M. (2017). “Body Cameras Help Everyone — Including the Police”. Retrieved from: http://time.com/4771417/jordan-edwards-body-cameras-police/.
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Problem of Police Brutality in Chicago. (2021, Jun 26). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/problem-of-police-brutality-in-chicago/
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