Americans of all genders, classes, ages, ethnicities, and races have experienced police brutality. In spite of the diversity of people who have suffered police cruelty in the United States, African-Americans have been the most significant victims (Clarence, 2013). In the approximation of key experts, an essential aspect describing the prevalence of African-American in the group of causalities of police harshness is anti-black racism out of a group of mainly white police divisions. Similar stereotypes are believed to have contributed to brutality committed by police against various historically marginalized or oppressed groups.
There have been some significant events and moments that have occurred, which began to highlight incidences of police brutality. Around 1960, police brutality accelerated several riots that occurred in American cities, including the 1967 Detroit Riot and the 1965 Watts Riot (Clarence, 2013). Come 1980, Miami’s section of Liberty City exploded following the police murder of an African American man. A span of three days witnessed the death of 18 people and the other 1,000 arrested. Property worth 100 million US dollars was damaged in the process. In 1992, officers from Los Angeles assaulted Rodney King by beating him. The police officials have acquitted on charges of excessive application of force an assault. This acquittal prompted the 1992 Los Angeles Riots, still regarded as the most severe race riots in the history of America. In another six days, over 50 individuals were murdered, and approximately 2,300 sustained injuries while property worth almost 1 billion US dollars was damaged. Evidence has shown that media is a compelling way of creating awareness regarding police brutality. One of the most recent incidences of police brutality involved the shooting and murder of Michael Brown, an eighteen-year-old who was unarmed at the time of the incident (Reynolds-Stenson, 2017). The killing, which happened in Ferguson, Missouri, was broadcasted on media for a couple of weeks, following which protests erupted against police brutality across the country.
While racism is viewed as the primary reason for police brutality against African-Americans as well as other ethnic members, the case is not real. Other aspects are about the individual perception of the police toward the blacks. The institutional culture in police departments emphasizes loyalty, group solidarity, and display of force technique to any perceived issue to an officer’s power (Clarence Taylor, 2013). For Rookie officers, promotion, success, and acceptance in the department are determined to embrace the practices, values, and attitudes of the body, which for a long time have been filled with anti-black racism.
The US government’s taskforce needs to realize that police officers require better training to enhance their relationship with the community and mitigate the kinds of racially charged, deadly conflicts that have split the country for a long (Reynolds-Stenson, 2017). Although the practice is not a perfect solution, analysts believe that more extensive police training will set the pace. In addition to the need to be trained over and above policing logistics, police have to learn about the broader importance of their societal role. When the training only concerns the physical part of handcuffing and shooting without the verbal segment, it can lead to imbalance. Officers should also be trained in better communication skills and handling members of the community in non-violent ways.
The role of the police is very crucial within the criminal justice system. However, when police commit crimes while on duty, they must be answerable to similar standards as an individual accused of committing a crime. It is not fair to require that local prosecution that works jointly with the police and depend on them for political and growth do investigations and conduct legal proceedings when police are accused of being criminals. Reynolds-Stenson (2017) believes that while public dialogue and police reforms may assist in minimizing the prevalence of crimes of law enforcement personnel, a more fair and unbiased process of prosecution should be used to make sure that police officers who disobey the law are handled accordingly by the criminal justice system (Buchanan, 2010).
Today, America’s focus has been directed at the killings of African Americans by the members of law enforcement. Reports of police brutality range from the murder of Michel Brown, the death of Freddie Gray in 2015, the killing of MO in 2014, to the recent killing of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling (Reynolds-Stenson, 2017). The majority of police brutality victims come from low-income employment and poor backgrounds. Consequently, they have lacked financial resources or significant political influence that is often required to publicize protests of police brutality adequately. However, anti-brutality initiatives have been launched in almost every principal city in the US, with a considerable population of black citizens. The 2014 police execution of Michael Brown, a teenager in Ferguson, triggered national protests, days after his demise, and also months later following the decision by the grand jury to acquit the officer who murdered him. In reaction to the death of Brown, activists formed a robust social movement named ‘Black Lives Matter’ (Reynolds-Stenson, 2017). After two years, the campaign led protests in over 15 key cities in the US following the murder of Philando Castle, Baton Rouge, and Alton Sterling. In acts of revenge against police brutality directed at African Americans, five police officers from the Dallas department were murdered through shootings during a rally of Black Lives Matters in Dallas in 2016. Ten days later, three other officers from the Baton Rouge department were shot and killed by a gunman.
Buchanan, A. (2010). Human rights, legitimacy, and the use of force. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Taylor, C. (2013). Introduction: African Americans, police brutality, and the US criminal justice system. Journal of African American History, 98(2), 200-204.
Reynolds-Stenson, H. (2018). Protesting the police: Anti-police brutality claims as a predictor of police repression of protest. Social Movement Studies, 17(1), 48-63.