Those of the minority community have been subjected, for many decades, to violence by those in law enforcement in the United States. This type of violence is a direct depiction of police brutality, which often leads to death. Police brutality has been an issue for many years, and it remains a major concern for those of the minority community.
Over the past five centuries, black people have endured violence in many different ways. Today, police officers use deadly, excessive force that leads to inexcusable assaults, beatings and shootings.
This demonstrates the governmentТs role in initiating and prolonging racial suppression and provides the explanation for police brutality to become a federal crime(Black Radical Congress, 3). In history, racist violence, police brutality, has been used to suppress the racial blacks and to preserve power and privileges for the white race. This was done for five primary purposes. First, it has forced black people into slavery or low wage situations. Secondly, to steal land and other resources. A 3-rd was to maintain social control. A fourth purpose was to eliminate conflict in politics, social life, and employment. Lastly, the fifth purpose was to unite white people across the ethnic, class, and gender boundaries. However, after the Emancipation, lynching became a prominent form of violence used against the blacks. The use of lynching was a means of controlling and putting fear into the blacks, making them afraid to go against anything the white man said or authorized.
In the mid 1900’s, race riots and lawful executions began to replace the practice of lynching. This became the new method of social control and white supremacy could be controlled through racial discrimination. Harassment and discrimination are two other forms of violence, they have been practiced for many centuries and are still being practiced today as a means of control.
The practice of police brutality has a strong affect on a main segment of the American population.
Those affected are minorities and the elderly causing them to have strong hatred towards the whites in America. Police Brutality is abuse by law enforcement, where a police officer feels that because he/ she has a badge and a gun therefore it puts them above the law and they can use unnecessary force against another individual. Police Brutality is not a new issue; it has become more focused on recently due to some cases that have occurred in the past few years that have been highly publicized.
The abuse used by police officers is a serious offense that violates a persons human and civil rights.
These violations are seen nationwide to the minority community and are committed by various police officers that fail to receive punishment for their action. The Civil Rights Act “provides protection to those persons wronged by the misuse of power, possessed by the virtue of state law and made [it] possible only because the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law”. There is a violation of the fourth amendment when innocent people become victims of police brutality. Many minorities are stopped because they are driving a luxury car. They are assumed to be either drug dealers or a criminal. The protection of the fourth amendment, however, is shrinking; it can only be used with the presence of a warrant (Meeks, 9). The presence of the warrant keeps from unlawful police searches and abuse to occur.
Racial profiling is the more common form of police brutality. This is the most frequent violation of the fourth amendment. It is the tactic of stopping someone because of his or her skin color. Racial profiling mainly targets young Black and Latino men and is believed to be a justified form of law enforcement. In other words, it is a form of legal prejudice that occurs daily nationwide. Although, there are many questionable areas in racial profiling that cannot be avoided nor proven. First, it is difficult to prove, in a majority of cases there is no evidence and the police officers can claim the stop to be a routine traffic stop. An example of this is when a black person is pulled over for a traffic violation the type of vehicle is first determined and then their skin color. A majority of Blacks and Latinos drive either flashy or historical vehicles, this determines the ethnicity of the driver. Harassment takes place and no one can prove this but the victim and the police officer.
Secondly, the courts have to acknowledge that racial profiling occurred and in most cases this is hard to prove. There are also other forms of racial profiling. In many professions, this type of profiling is used as a form as security. Taxi drivers and security personnel engage in profiling when they feel fearful or threatened. Taxi drivers use this type of judgment when refusing to pick up a customer at night and security guards use it to find suspects while working. Racial profiling is considered to be a profile used by police officers to identify suspicious criminal or violators of the law. A typical profile used is the CARD system. CARD is an acronym for class, age, race, and dress. This system is used to fit individuals into categories for means of identification. The problem with the CARD system is that many minorities fall into this category. This makes them primary targets and poses a problem for some of the white people that also fall into this category. Nevertheless, there are a few positive sides to profiling. For one, it can be considered to be a survival skill, allowing one to see if people are doing justice. Secondly, it puts people on an innate level. Profiling shows signs about people and certain criteria. Lastly, it is not considered to be racism. Police officers who use profiling use it as a tool because they think that they are color blind in certain situations.
Police brutality also occurs in prisons where the prisoners are mistreated because it becomes a simple case of authority. Humans have their freedom to express their rights and police brutality violates their human rights. The main targets of police brutality are two third African American or Latino and the majority of the time the officer is white.
There are five stages through which force can progress and lead to brutality:
- verbal persuasion,
- unarmed physical force,
- force using non-lethal weapons,
- force using impact weapons,
- deadly force.
Enforcement personnel should use the deadly force stage only when an officer’s life or another person’s life is in danger. By having the deadly force stage, the law permits someone to commit a murder, and justifies its use. Many law enforcement officials appear to have a tough exterior towards crime, but are very sensitive to crime on the inside. Police officers build up negative feelings towards certain races, sexes, or religions. Officers tend to get the impression that if one or a few people treat them with disrespect, than other people of that same sex, race, or religion will treat the officer in the same way. Another cause of police brutality and misconduct is the amount of stress that is put upon the law enforcement official.
Law enforcement officials who are accused of police brutality are required to attend a civil court hearing with a judge and a jury present. Most of the time the jury will find the officers not guilty, or guilty of a lesser crime. This is true in the case of the officer who used an illegal chokehold on Anthony Bees, a twenty eight-year old Puerto Rican, after Baez’s football hit the patrol car. Baez was killed due to the force of the chokehold, but the officer was found not guilty. However, due to racism and society, the demand of tough treatment towards criminals will encourage police officers to remain violent. The extent of police brutality can be improved through the training of police officers and racially integrated departments resulting in the decline of police violence. Many ways to correct police misconduct have evolved. Such corrections include sufficient training, recruitment, and integration. In recruitment, tighter screening and background checks could be used to avoid violence and racism to enter into the police force. By means of integration, the presence of more minorities can help to dissolve the hatred towards minorities in the society, giving affirmative action an opportunity to take precedence. Police officers should also be required to go to a class that re-teaches them how to act appropriate in an arrest and other situations. A majority of these police officers also feel as though they did not commit a wrongdoing and that they are innocent. One of the ways to curb police brutality is to implement new laws, to punish the wrong doers that may bring about the decrease in police brutality. Today, officers know that there are laws dealing with etiquette during an arrest, but many do not attempt to apply what they know, and let physical strength, and force overcomes them. Also, severe or reasonable consequences should be given to police officers who participate in police brutality. Suspension, verbal reprimands, an investigation, anger management classes, or the loss of their jobs are some consequences that should be given to violating officers.
Although there has been some progress and education, training and integration with of the law enforcement population, the are still incidents of racial profiling and police brutality. With continued efforts and corrections of racial injustices, this type of abuse and punishment will lessen when the law moves more towards the justice for minorities. Doing so will cause less brutalities and deaths to occur and more social justice.
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