US Police Brutality and African Americans
According to research, in America, an African American person is three times more likely to be killed by a police officer than a Caucasian person. The research stated that “Black people are most likely to be killed by a police officer than any other race” (Mapping Police Brutality). Despite being only 13% of the population African American individuals experience the most casualties at the hands of police officers. It is wrong that in a blended country of immigrants, that minorities are suffering at the hands of police officers. The opposition argues that it does not exist or that it is necessary, but the facts prove that a black person is more at risk than a caucasian person when it comes to dying at the hands of a police officer, and brutality in any form is never necessary under constitutional rights. Martin Luther King Jr once stated that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” so anyone looking at the statistics and not doing something to change unnecessary deaths is also the cause of the problem. (Martin Luther King Jr) Police brutality against minorities exists, and it is wrong because it is against the Declaration of Independence, enables police officers to harass minority groups, creates bad relationships between police officers and communities; therefore, Americans must look into possible solutions and create change.
America is described as a “melting pot,” and research supports this; over 300 million people in America are classified as “minorities.” However, if there are 300 million people in the United States, then there are 300 million people at greater risk of police brutality than a white person. Under the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson stated that “All men are created equal” (Jefferson), and that “All men deserve the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” (Jefferson) America was founded on the Declaration of Independence, as a result, minorities should no longer be treated unequally by those hired to protect them. Minorities live in fear, and eventually will strike or lash out against those in power to create change. A scholarly source stated that “The lingering inequalities in American society will inevitably be addressed, much as previous injustices were” (Issues and Controversies). Inequalities against any man go against the Declaration of Independence and go against everything civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X fought for. The unequal treatment shown to minorities is wrong and Americans must come together and realize that equal rights are what the founding fathers, civil rights leaders, and people for decades have been fighting for.
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Racial profiling has been going on for decades and is actually the root of the problem when dealing with police brutality against minority groups and black men. Racial profiling enables police officers to stop and frisk anyone they deem is suspicious, which then causes shootings. If police officers did not automatically assume that an innocent minority looked suspicious then many injustices could be prevented. A scholarly source stated that “ Using specious and vague justifications, police use stop-and-frisk and racial profiling to wrongly harass innocent members of minority groups.” (Issues and Controversies) Stopping a person just because they looked suspicious increases the number of minorities being pulled over or frisked. If police officers were not allowed to stop someone from looking suspicious then unarmed deaths would not be as likely. Many shootings of unarmed minorities occur because a police officer thought they saw a gun or thought that the suspect was reaching for a gun. In some cases, the suspect was actually reaching for a driver’s license, insurance, or other information needed during a traffic stop. For example, Philando Castile was fatally shot by a police officer in 2016, when reaching for his wallet while in the car with his girlfriend and their four-year-old baby. The event was recorded and the girlfriend claimed, “ He was reaching for his wallet and the officer shot him in the arm four times.” (Girlfriend of Castile) This is just one case of an unlawful death of an unarmed minority. Another scholarly source indicated that “the Fourteenth Amendment requires that all Americans enjoy equal protection of the law.” (Issues and Controversies) All men are created equal and should be able to exercise their right to fair and equal treatment every day. The unjustified shootings of unarmed black men are caused by a panic in both minorities and police officers communities, improper training, and no consequences for going against the United States Constitution. In order to bring justice to minorities, Americans have to stand up and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.
The heinous crimes being committed by police officers are against the constitution and create hysteria in minority communities which worsen the problem of police brutality. A police officer in Gaston County quoted, in his scholarly article, “the fear of black men is real,” (Shaunte Southern). He also stated that a possible solution to this issue is for his “fellow officers to get out and meet people who are different from you.” (Shaunte Southern) A police officer being scared of the person they are pulling over, detaining, or even questioning can cause the officer to be more focused on the fear than following protocol. This causes black men in-turn to be afraid of the police officers, which can make them treat a good police officer badly. In America, you can either be “pro-black or pro-police” Southern stated. (Shaunte Southern) The question must be raised, why not both? In minority and police communities fear, hatred, and sadness lye because of racial tension. America as a society needs to intermingle with people that are “different.” (Shaunte Southern) Negative statements and rioting causes even more fear in minority communities. When whole communities do not like police officers it is hard to have a good encounter, which raises the death toll. As police officers, their job is to make each other better and hold each other accountable for their mistakes in the field. As a community, it is their job to stop rioting or slandering police officers, and have peaceful protests. If the hysteria was lessened throughout the communities and police officers were not afraid of citizens then the death toll would decrease. The conflict in America between communities and police officers are creating separation between the two, which in-turn increases police brutality.
The hysteria in communities are not the only problem, but actually just a portion of it. Police officers are supposed to be trained so that they can handle dangerous situations and pressure. Police officers are in a dangerous line of work, and this means they will be put in tough situations and have to make tough decisions; however, police officers are “far too quick when using deadly force,” Harvard grad, Alex Smith stated. Black men are scared of going to jail and of being deemed suspicious just because of the color of their skin. The stigma and fear that police officers have about black men comes from the “mass incarceration, brutality against black men, and other harmful policies.” (Smith) Police officers know that African Americans, despite being only 18% of the population, are the highest incarcerated race. Because of this, minority races all over the United States have fear in their hearts towards police officers. Police officers may be prejudice without realizing it because of the history of out nation. An example would be if a Caucasian person was given a choice to walk beside a black man or a white man, of the same height and weight, the person would almost always choose to walk beside the white man. Police officers are not the only citizens who are prejudice without realizing it, but since they are in a position of authority it worsens the situation and creates bad relationships within these communities. The sad part of the killings is that they happened, but it is very sad that the factors that made the officers pull the trigger will go unnoticed by the American Community; therefore, there can be no change.
Sadness, grief, and fear have plagued African American communities for far too long, and it is our duty as American citizens to change the systematic oppression. Possible solutions to police brutality include stopping racial profiling, holding officers accountable, and offering better police training. The first step in lessening police brutality is to stop racial profiling, which causes more black men to be pulled over in the first place, which would in-turn decrease police on black crime. It is true that it is “127% more likely for a black man to be stopped and frisked than a black man.” (Washington and Lee) The opposition might argue that this is the case because black men are more likely to commit a crime or be guilty, but statistics say otherwise. Washington and Lee found that when white men are stopped and frisked “33% had a successful hit” compared to only “26.3” percent of black males. (Washington and Lee) This should be enough evidence to make police start pulling over black and whites equally, instead of 127 times more likely to pull over a black man. If police officers looked at the numbers instead of racial prejudice than this would be the case, which leads me to my next solution, the police force and white communities also need to hold police officers accountable. When someone makes a mistake at their job they are held accountable, even if they had the best interest at heart. Police officers should be held to the same standard by their communities and workforce.
A website by the name of PowerDMS wrote an article to help a certain police department better their police force, and in this article, they told them to “lead by example” and make sure the “commanding officer is holding the lower ranking officers accountable.” (PowerDMS) The site also told them it would help the police officer and staff know what happened to the best of their knowledge by using “body-worn cameras.” (PowerDMS) When one officer is not held accountable the whole organization is affected in a negative way, and accountability would help with that. My third and final solution is that policemen should undergo longer, realistic, and dangerous training. The dangerous aspect of training could be something like virtual reality or officer on officer combat training. This type of training could help officers see what it would be like to handle dangerous situations so that when a situation arises it is not something new to them. Virtual reality would feel like real life, and this kind of software would tell the Sargent everything the officer did right or wrong, and they would continue training until they could do it with their eyes closed so to speak.
The next step in solving the issues of police brutality is coming together as a community, peacefully protesting, and saying “enough is enough.” The issue of police brutality has gone on far too long. This causes fear, sadness, and brokenness in the minority communities once the issues are fixed then the relationship between police officers and minorities will begin to repair itself. Possible solutions include unity in protests, officers wearing body cameras, and putting hands up at all times and always listening to police officers. Being a minority means that you must take extra precautions like putting hands up, following orders, and not resisting arrest, even if it does not seem fair. Unity in peaceful protests by not only the black community, but also the white communities will show the police force that the community is standing together. Martin Luther King Jr. once states that “darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that” (King). King was speaking on protesting, and today the same rule applies always protest peacefully. There is more power in a peaceful protest than a riot. Another possible solution is for police officers to wear body cameras. In America, “ 75% of police departments do not use body cameras” (National Institute of Justice). The article goes on to say that body cameras have “a number of perceived benefits” (National Institute of Justice). Body worn cameras not only have an impact on police, but also on civilian crime. In Los Angeles the police officers who wore body cameras were less likely to use any form of brutality (National Institute of Justice).
In conclusion, if all police officers wore body cameras it would be inferred that police brutality would decrease. Body cameras would also be useful when convicting civilians, police, or anyone else of any injustice crimes. Another possible solution that would decrease police brutality is to have a training class that shows minorities how to act when dealing with police to ensure their safety and police safety. As a minority it is important to know that a minority will always be deemed suspicious, more likely to be a victim of brutality, and should always be extra cautious when dealing with a police officer. All to often an unarmed black man is reaching for his wallet and winds up getting shot or killed. If the unarmed man has his hands up the whole time, and states “my drivers license is in my wallet,” then maybe they would walk out alive. Following the rules, not resisting arrest, and more can help ensure everyone’s safety. However unfair it may seem, it is best to be safe first, then make a point to the chief of police at the station. In theory, all of these solutions would decrease police brutality, so that everyone can make it home to their families. Decreasing police violence may seem hard, but so did getting rid of Jim-Crow laws. Every change in society will take time, but equality is the end result and it is worth it. In conclusion, many possible solutions include peaceful protests, police wearing body-cameras, and minorities being aware that they must take extra caution when dealing with police officers, even though it may seem unfair it’s best that everyone gets home safely.
Police Brutality is an ongoing problem in America, and it is especially prevalent in the minority communities. A black man is three times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than a white man is, and it is every American’s job to say enough is enough. During the Civil Rights movement, Americans had Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X. My question is who will be the next King and the next Rosa Parks. Enough is enough, police brutality against minorities exists. It is wrong because it is against the Declaration of Independence, enables brutality against minorities, and creates bad relationships between police officers and minority communities; Therefore, it is our job to create possible solutions and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Americans must fight for those who not only lost their voice, but also lost their life including Alton Sterling, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner.