What causes police brutality, and why are minority citizens the primary victims? The U. S. History Encyclopedia defines police brutality as the use of any force exceeding that reasonably necessary to accomplish a lawful police purpose. Most brutality began during strikes in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s. The strikes involved African Americans speaking out for their rights as citizens of the United States. Police brutality is one of the seven forms of police misconduct, the others being: false arrest, intimidation, political repression, surveillance abuse, sexual abuse and police corruption.
Reasonable force is any action that is fair, proper, just, moderate or suitable under the circumstances. Some police officers will go beyond reasonable force when they are dealing with African American criminals and that is when it becomes a situation. Another term used when describing policed brutality is deadly force. Deadly force is defined as “when an actor with the purpose of causing, or that the actor should reasonably know creates a substantial risk of causing, death or great bodily harm.
Police have a rule they have to follow called the use of force continuum. It sets the level of force considered to be appropriate in direct response to a subject’s behavior. The level of force may still be seen as excessive to bystanders even though it is not. Police brutality occurs for a number of reasons: the most common is racial discrimination. 89% of the people who died in NYPD custody between the years 1990 and 1994 were African American or Hispanic.
A study was conducted that proved that minority citizens are stopped by the police more than white citizens but minority driven vehicles are no more likely to have drug paraphernalia than whites’ vehicles. Racial discrimination is the main cause of police brutality. 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 ethnicityof the driver.
Harassment takes place and no one can prove this but the victim and the police office A study was conducted that proved that minority citizens are stopped by the police more than other citizens but minority driven vehicles are no more likely to have drug paraphernalia than whites’ vehicles. Racial discrimination is the main cause of police brutality. Most who suffer abuse from the police don’t bother to complain. They know that to make an enemy of the police brings a lifetime of troubles. Those who do file complaints find that police departments tend to be self-protective and that the naive and gullible public tends to side with the police.
However, you can find plenty of examples of police brutality on youtube, more than you can watch in a lifetime. I have just searched google for “youtube police brutality” and the result is: “497,000 results. ” There’s everything from police shooting a guy in a wheelchair to body slamming a befuddled 89-year old great grandmother to tasering kids and mothers with small children. The fat goon cops love to beat up on women, kids, and old people. 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. One of the most famous and historic acts of police brutality is the case concerning an African American male named Rodney King. On March 31, 1991 King was pulled over by LA Police for speeding. The police say that King resisted arrest and that he was either on drugs or drunk. A bystander videotaped officer’s tasing, kicking, stomping and beating King with batons.
He suffered 56 blows from the batons and was kicked 6 times. King also had 11 skull fractures, brain damage and kidney damage. The officers beat him for approximately two minutes. Four of the officers were charged with excessive force and found guilty. Officers Stacey Koon and Laurence Powell received 30 months in prison while Theodore Briseno and Timothy Wind were acquitted. LA blacks were not happy with the charges and caused riots. The LA riots lasted for six days and left 53 people dead. As William F. Schulz states in his book, Hate Crimes (2007, p. 8-80), “Across the country some endure the injustices of discrimination, entrapment and verbal abuse, as well as brutal beatings and sexual assault at the hands of those responsible for protecting them-the police” (p. 78-80). King did not deserve the violent beating that he endured. Haitian immigrant, Abner Louima, was another victim of racial discrimination. On August 9, 1997 a fight broke out outside of Club Rendez-vous in Brooklyn, New York. The officers became extremely angry when 33 year old Louima resisted arrest and so they stopped twice on the way back to the station to beat him.
When they arrived two officers took the man into the bathroom, removed his trousers and beat him with the handle of a toilet plunger. They brutally shoved the handle into Louima’s rectum and then his mouth, breaking his teeth while he screamed, “Why are you doing this to me? Why? Why? ” (Siegel & Senna, 2008, p. 242). Witnesses said that Louima had no bruises or injuries when he was taken away but three hours later he was bleeding excessively and rushed to the hospital. Louima had to undergo emergency surgery because of a puncture in his small intestine and injuries to his bladder.
Police brutality does not always have to be physical. Patrick Hall, an African American male, served in the United States Army and when he retired in 2006 he decided to attend Illinois University at Macomb. While he was attending school he opened a tavern. He was the very first African American entrepreneur in Macomb and he employed many of his African American friends. Police and other authorities did not like this change and began harassing Hall (Ashutosh, 2007). The officers would humiliate him and conduct random searches to check for illegal activities.
The police became engaged in other forms of police misconduct such as intimidation and surveillance abuse. The police department denied him of his civil rights and spread rumors about his employees. Hall even tried to file a complaint and it was immediately refused. Hall stated, “I was treated like a convicted criminal” (Ashutosh, 2007, n. p. ). Hall was forced to shut down his tavern business and leave Macomb City. In this case, police verbally and emotionally bullied Patrick Hall just because he was African American.
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. If americans ever find the emotional strength to acknowledge the oppression under which they live, they, too, will be in the streets.