Task 3: Rough Draft
May 29, 2018
Senior Synthesis Paper 2018
What is the impact of police brutality in the United States and how does racial profiling play a role in police brutality?
On July 5, 2016 Baton Rouge police officers were responding to a call about a man threatening someone with a gun outside a convenience store. Surveillance video from the convenient store shows Sterling selling CDs outside the store. Then Sterling packs his goods as Officer Lake arrives to confront him. Moments later Officer Salamoni arrives for back up, within seconds Salamoni pulls his gun on Sterling and yells, “Don’t f—– move or I’ll shoot your f—- a–. Put your f—— hands on the car.” The body camera footage shows Sterling resisting to put his hands on the hood of the car, then the officers struggle with him to the ground. Finally one of the officers shouts “He’s got a gun!” then shoot Sterling six times. The 911 call was from a homeless man who claimed Sterling pulled a gun when he approached and Officer lake claimed that Sterling had put the gun into his car. Also police said that a .38 caliber gun was found at the scene. In the foot it was also unclear whether he was reaching for it when officers tackled and then shot him. (Chavez, 2018). The entire incident was took under ninety seconds and sadly, “On average, in the United States, a police officer takes the life of a citizen every 7 hours.” (“42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics”, 2017). Neither of the officers was convicted.
Just a day later, in Minnesota at 9:05 pm thirty two year old Philando Castile was pulled over by officer Jeronimo Yanez, for a broken brake light. The body camera footage shows Yanez asked Castile for his driver’s license and proof of insurance and Castile provided the information for the officer. After Yanez checked both then put the insurance card into his pocket, then Castile said “Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me.” Before Castile could finish the sentence, Yanez interrupted, “Okay” then placed his hand on the holster of his gun. Yanez then said, “Okay don’t reach for it” Castile’s response was unclear in the footage but Yanez responded, “Don’t pull it out.” Then Castile said, “I’m not pulling it out,” and Reynolds said, “He’s not pulling it out.” Finally Yanez yelled, “Don’t pull it out!” and shot Castile seven times. Castile’s girlfriend -Reynolds- then cried “You shot my boyfriend!” and Castile moaned his last words, “I wasn’t reaching for it.” Reynolds then live streamed the rest of the incident on Facebook (Park, 2017). Statistics show, “People who are African-American/Black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while being unarmed compared to a Caucasian/White individual.” (“42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics”, 2017)
In Dallas four days after Sterling was shot, Micah Xavier Johnson, a veteran who had served in Afghanistan, sought to kill as many white officers as he could. A peaceful protest was held for the shootings earlier that week; Johnson took the protests as a chance to ambush the officers. Johnson was armed with a sniper and had shot down toward the officers several times. Johnson had killed three Dallas officers from the building Lorne Ahrens, Michael Smith, Michael Krol, and two officers in a parking garage shootout Patrick Zamarripa, and DART officer Brent Thomson. Johnson wounded twelve other officers in the shooting (Karimi, 2016). Although this one week is a of killing seems crazy it is not even a small fraction of the people killed by police that year, “In 2015, there were 1,307 people who lost their lives at the hands of a police officer or law enforcement official. In 2016, that number was 1,152. Although lower, both years are still higher than the 1,149 people who were killed by police in 2014.” (“42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics”, 2017)
Police brutality is the use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police when dealing with civilians. Police officers have been known to say that they agree with the idea that “Always following the rules is not compatible with the need to get their job done.” Sometimes this means using excessive force in order to do what they feel is best in the situation. “Excessive use of force” means a force well beyond what would be necessary in order to handle a situation. (Law Dictionary) Racial profiling is defined as the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offense. (Racial Profiling Definition)
Police brutality negatively affects society, causing communities to mistrust or fear police rather than feeling protected and safe. (Turner and Richardson, 2016) The use of excessive force is a direct violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S Constitution. (US Legal, Inc.) Although it is a direct violation of several amendments of the United States Constitution, “The most common form of police misconduct in 2010 was excessive force. This is similar to the data collected in 2001 by the US Government.” (“42 Shocking Police Brutality Statistics”, 2017)
This paper will review the history of police brutality in order to better look at the effect of racial profiling and police brutality in the United States. It is also important to consider how racial profiling and police brutality are related, as well as the negative impacts it has had on various communities. There are many people that are working to prevent police brutality, but what else can be done?
Police brutality is in some ways a form of prejudice, and most often the victims are people who are of minorities. In the 1800s when most minorities were European immigrants they had still experienced police brutality. America has a long history of police brutality that has affected the people’s trust in the police.
The first signs of police brutality showed around the time of the establishment of the first police department. However, then the most targeted communities were recent European immigrants. It seems the police liked to bully the new kids on the block, because when African-Americans began to flee the Jim Crow south they became the victims of brutal policing in the northern cities (Nodjimbadem, 2017).
A survey was conducted between 1927-1928 to examine the causes of high crime rates in Chicago and Cook County. African-Americans made up only five percent of the area’s population, yet they amounted to 30 percent of the victims of police killings (Nodjimbadem, 2017). This survey shows the racism at the time and how it affected police behavior. Police dogs and fire hoses were used against individuals in peaceful protests or sit-ins were the most widely publicized examples of police brutality in that era. But it was the persistent violent policing in communities of color that built distrust towards the police (Moore, 2017).
In recent times, there have been fifteen police misconduct cases where the victims were either killed by the officers or died in custody. Only eight of these officers were charged of manslaughter, and taken to court. In only two of these cases did the officer involved plead guilty, but only one was convicted of manslaughter. In five of the cases the officers were fired; and in eleven of the cases a settlement was reached (Lee and Park, 2017). The officers responsible for the deaths of Keith Lamont Scott, Paul O’Neal, and Alton B. Sterling were not charged and there was no settlement reached (Lee and Park, 2017). According to Philip M. Stinson, most police shooting can still be legally justified if has reasonable belief that the suspect is an eminent threat (Lee and Park, 2017).
Although police brutality is somewhat less of an issue today than it was before, but it has been an ongoing issue for a very long time. Police brutality has existed for decades, and effected many minorities causing mistrust or even hate towards police.
Racial profiling often causes police officers to overestimate the threat level. One example from recently is the arrest of NBA player Sterling Brown. The incident took place on January 26, 2018 at around 2 am in a Walgreens parking lot. The body camera footage shows Brown walking out of the store when an officer standing by Brown’s car asks him for his driver’s license. When Brown gets close to his car’s door, the officer touches Brown and he tells the officer not to touch him. “Back up! Back up!” the officer yells. “For what? I ain’t did nothing,” Brown responds. He then shows the officer his driver’s license. Brown then says he has no problem with the officer’s questions and the officer replied that he had touched him “because you got up in my face”. Brown responded. “Really?” soon after more officers come for backup. Four officers surrounded Brown, when he was asked to take his hands out of his pockets. Almost immediately the officers scuffle with Brown to the ground. The officers swarm over Brown and one yells “Taser, Taser, Taser!” finally, Brown is heard groaning in pain on the ground (Associated Press, 2018). What had been a simple routine parking violation had escalated to Brown being Tasered and arrested.
Racial profiling is defined as the use of race or ethnicity as grounds for suspecting someone of having committed an offence. It is a form of prejudice towards other people and causes distrust towards people. (“Racial Profiling Definition”) Racial profiling often causes the police officers to be suspicious just from the way someone looks, and often causes the officers to jump to conclusions. Many incidents were caused because officers assumed the victim had a weapon because of the way the victim looked. (Natarajan, 2014)
The bible has many verses that are about being prejudice towards others one of these verses is Matthew 7:1, which says, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (New International Version, Matthew 7.1) This is a verse shows that when you judge someone you will be judged. It also shows that you cannot judge someone else because you yourself have problems. Another verse that relates very well with racial profiling is 1 Samuel 16:7, which says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” (New International Version, 1 Samuel 16.7). This verse shows that people should not be judged by their appearance and should be forgiven because God doesn’t judge your outward appearance.
Racial profiling often escalates the situation and causes police officers to overreact in stressful situations, or in simple routine police patrol. These are a few reasons why police brutality and racial profiling go hand in hand. Racial profiling is a large cause for police brutality, and to reduce police brutality rates we should stop racial profiling.
Police brutality has many negative impacts on communities some physical like when a victim is tackled or beat to the ground. Sometimes the impacts are psychological for example when a child witnesses someone else or is a victim of police brutality, the child will be affected. Ultimately the death of a victim has both physical and psychological effects on communities and individuals.
Many incidents involving police brutality will bring a lot of media attention to both the victims and the officers involved. Most times media could also escalate the problem by promoting people to start protests, or encouraging people to commit hate crimes. But sometimes media can help with footage of incidents and raising awareness of police brutality (Turner and Richardson, 2016). An example of when media was used is when Philando Castile was shot his girlfriend live streamed the incident on Facebook to raise awareness and to document it.
Many incidents also result in court cases but are sometimes unresolved or settlements are reached, but the police officers often do not plead guilty (Lee and Park, 2017). For example the (Liptak, 2018)
Psychologically, police brutality can cause trauma that can have many effects on the victim. One of those beings an increased risk for anxiety disorders and depression. The death of a victim can also disrupt child development and affect the quality of emotional attachment in family and social relationships (Delgado 2016). Police brutality can sometimes lead to the death of the victim. Which leads to anger throughout the community, increasing aggression towards the police. When people attempt to control the physical and social environment it can result in violence from street gangs, domestic violence, and defiant behavior. This also causes the communities to have a heightened sensitivity to threats, which will cause people to be defensive in situation and appear to be tough and impenetrable (Smith Jr. 2010).
Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work.” (Smith, 2018) “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Smith, 2018) These two verses show that people should respect the authorities, but also that authorities shouldn’t provoke their “children”. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Smith, 2018) “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Smith, 2018) These verses show that no one should act in hate towards another but we should love one another.” Lastly the verse “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (Smith, 2018) shows that we all should remain calm and patient in stressful situations.
Police brutality not only negatively affects the society but it causes people to act violently towards police creating a cycle. Society is greatly effected by police brutality, but not only does it effect the community, it effects people’s family and individual lives.
Police brutality is something that can easily be prevented, and many people are making an effort to do so. But with everyone pointing fingers it creates a divide between people making it harder to solve the problem at hand. There are also other obstacles such as the people who want revenge and start the cycle all over again.
One way of preventing police brutality is by diversifying police forces; this will reduce racism or prejudice towards other races. If not towards each other, the officers won’t be racist towards their own races and the more races in a police force the less opportunities for racism.
Body cameras have also been implemented into police uniforms so that they can be monitored and held accountable. The footage provides evidence for investigators to see if it was the officer or the civilian who was at fault. (Wiley, 2017) Body cameras haven’t been very effective in preventing police brutality but they do help in many court cases as evidence. Sometimes footage from the body cameras are released to raise awareness of police brutality .Many police misconduct incidents include another officer who either helped the fellow officer or just watched. Active bystanding is when someone usually another cop stands back and watches the other officer. Active bystanders are more than capable of preventing excessive force (Novotney, 2017). If active bystanding is stopped there will be a significant decrease in police brutality cases.
There have been many protests against police brutality by organizations such as Black Lives Matter or simply communities come together. Protests haven’t been very effective and can sometimes lead to police acting upon the protests escalating the situation. (Meyerson, 2017) Many things are being done and can be done to prevent police brutality. Some of the strategies being used may not work, but many people are trying to stop police brutality.
“American Christians have joined movements to pray, march, and advocate for justice. Yet whether they find themselves supporting Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, or somewhere in between depends more on their race than their particular Christian tradition.” (Shellnutt, 2017).Police brutality can be prevented if people work together as a whole instead of against each other but the divide between the police and African Americans is one of the biggest obstacles preventing the problem from being solved. Everyone seems to want an eye for an eye but as the saying goes an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.
Romans 12:10 says: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (New International Version, 1 Samuel 16.7). This is a great verse to summarize the biblical perspective towards police brutality because it shows that violence towards others is not acceptable. It also shows that we should not act in hate but in love towards others.
Police brutality is an issue that has been occurring for too long and needs to be resolved soon. It’s not an issue that can only be solved by civilians or only by police it needs to be solved by them both. I believe if both sides were actually willing to solve the problem then it would’ve already been resolved, but because some people don’t see it as an issue or see it as the victims fault it hasn’t been resolved.
In conclusion racial profiling and police brutality both negatively affect the entire country, separating the police from civilians; also making some people fear the police when they should feel protected by them.
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