Draft:Race and police brutality in the United States

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Unfortunately, race and police brutality have a close relationship in the United states.

History[edit]

During the Civil Rights Movement, Black demonstrators were attacked with firehoses and police dogs and physically attacked by officers.

Notable victims and survivors[edit]

Rodney King[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Rodney King

Michael Brown[edit]

Sandra Bland[edit]

Jamar Clark[edit]

Botham Jean[edit]

On September 6, 2018, Dallas police officer Amber Guyger, preoccupied with calling and texting the person she was having an affair with, walked into the apartment of her neighbor, 26-year-old Botham Jean, thinking it was her own. She saw Jean, a Black person sitting on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV, and assumed he was a burglar. She shot him twice, and he died. The Dallas Police Department placed Guyger on administrative leave and then fired her on September 28.[1]

According to prosecutors at her trial, Guyger's police training should have caused her to seek safety and call for backup. The sentencing phase of her trial also revealed some damning evidence against her, such as text messages where she advised shoving and pepper-spraying participants at a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade, and a pin on Pintrest that depicted a Navy SEAL sniper with the caption, "Kill first, die last. One shot, one kill. No luck, all skill". On another social media post, she said of owning a gun, "I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me, because I'm already dressed for your funeral". Guyger was convicted of murder and sentenced to ten years in state prison in 2019.[2]

Alton Sterling[edit]

George Floyd[edit]

See the main article on this topic: George Floyd

On May 25, 2020, Minneapolis police officers pinned down George Floyd because they suspected that he may have used a counterfeit $20 bill. Two police officers placed their body weight on Floyd's legs and back as one held his knee on the back of Floyd's neck until he died eight minutes later. He was unarmed. The act was recorded by bystanders and circulated on social media. [3]

Tanisha Anderson[edit]

Walter Scott[edit]

Philando Castile[edit]

Breonna Taylor[edit]

Jacob Blake[edit]

Eric Garner[edit]

Rayshard Brooks[edit]

Protests[edit]

May 2020[edit]

The murder of George Floyd caused massive protests across all 50 states and caused many to support the causes of police defunding or abolition. Some participants who were arrested were later summoned to court on minor offenses, such as participating in an unlawful assembly or blocking traffic. New York City experienced some of the most attended protests beginning on May 28 with over 1000 arrests made. Mayor de Blasio implemented an 11 PM curfew beginning on June 1; the same night, looting occurred in some neighborhoods. Despite law enforcement claims to want to establish order, some anecdotes involve police officers targeting peaceful protesters while allowing looting to occur. The curfew was expanded to 8 PM for the next week.[3]

At numerous demonstrations, law enforcement arrested and acted violently towards protesters, using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades. Some even slammed the doors of police vehicles into protesters. In Mott Hill on June 4, a majority Black and Latin@ neighborhood in the South Bronx, the NYPD used a tactic known as "kettling" (forming a wall to prevent forward movement and simultaneously pushing in the same direction) to trap protesters. After the city's curfew began, NYPD proceeded to assault protesters with batons and pepper spray, shoving people to the ground and restraining them. Protesters were arrested or detained on the street for hours. The NYPD's commissioner described the demonstration in Mott Hill as as an attempt by “outside agitators” to “cause mayhem,” “tear down society,” and “injure cops.” However, according to Human Rights Watch, no police officers were injured in the protest. Huh.[3]

Law enforcement even assaulted and harassed journalists, legal observers from human rights organizations, and street medics, even while being videotaped.[3]

Statistics[edit]

Unfortunately, there are no government databases that track police brutality. While agencies such as the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the FBI count arrest-related deaths, and the CDC collects figures on deaths from "legal interventions", there is no federal-level effort to count victims and survivors of police brutality. This is partially due to the unreliability of crime statistics and the varying forms of police brutality. [4]

According to the organization Mapping Police Violence, US police have killed 1,066 people in 2020 alone. Furthermore, the police homicide rate (number of killings by police per 100,000 population) for Black people in the US is 6.6; in comparison, the rate for Hispanic people is 3.8, and the rate for white people is 2.5. Interestingly, while the rates of police homicides in cities have decreased, those for suburban and rural areas have increased. There also appears to be no correlation between the rates of violent crime and police killings. [5]

Campaign Zero's California Police Scorecard gave the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) a ranking of F. According to their analysis for 2016-2018, Black and Latin@ people were 5.7 and 1.8 times as likely as a white person to experience deadly force by the LAPD those years. Los Angeles is 9% Black, 49% Latinx, and 28% white; yet among the people killed or seriously injured by police, 28% were Black, 51% were Latinx, and 16% were white. Of the civilians seriously injured or killed that year, 42% were unarmed. Perhaps the statistics for the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) are more convincing: in a city 6% Black, 31% Latin@, and 41% white, out of those killed or seriously injured by the SDPD during the same period, 21% were Black. 31% of this group of people were unarmed.[6]

In case you were wondering, "But what do statistics from two places in California have to do with a country with over 300 million people?", well, the same patterns are true of national-level data. Take data from 2017: that year, 1,147 people were killed by police. Furthermore, 729 out of 1,147 cases (63.6%) happened as officers responded to suspected non-violent or traffic crimes. At least 149 (13%) were unarmed (interestingly, a vehicle counts as a weapon?). While the US population is 13% Black, 27% of all people killed by police in 2017 were Black. Additionally, Black people made up 35% of unarmed people killed by police that year. [7]

170 of the 1,147 victims were allegedly armed with a knife; in 117 of these cases (68.8%), police did not attempt to use less lethal force before shooting them. Additionally, 617 people (53.8%) reportedly had guns, but 130 of these people (21% of victims purported to have a firearm) were not threatening anyone. [7]

Notably, very few cases of police brutality involve the officers being charged with a crime. In 2017, only 13 of the 1,147 deaths resulted in officers being charged with a crime (1.1% of cases). Nine of the thirteen cases involved video evidence.[7]

Why?[edit]

Fatal shootings are not the only part of racist police brutality. Police also engage in widespread less lethal acts, such as use of police dogs, Tasers, and pepper spray, and stops and searches disproportionately against Black and brown citizens.[3]

According to Mapping Police Violence's 2017 report, police recruits spend 58 hours on firearm training but only 8 hours on crisis intervention and 8 hours on de-escalation.[7] Interestingly, even though the NYPD Patrol Guide bans chokeholds and encourages officers to intervene against and report excessive force, the Guide does not command officers to de-escalate situations "unless [de-escalation is] appropriate and consistent with personal safety”.[3]

The culture of law enforcement precincts also contributes to the lack of accountability that perpetrators usually face; through laws, contracts negotiated by police unions, and policies at the local, state, and federal levels, investigation of misconduct is often internal. For instance, an analysis of NYPD complaints from 2011 to 2015 revealed that 319 officers kept their jobs despite being conduct serious enough to warrant being fired. Furthermore, even if cops do lose their jobs, they are usually able to find a law enforcement jobs elsewhere. Prosecutors also rarely press charges against police officers for misconduct; prosecutors rely on a close working relationship with law enforcement to work effectively, which creates a conflict of interest. [3]

Responses[edit]

Black Lives Matter movement[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Black Lives Matter

While Black Lives Matter originated in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman (which was not an incident of police brutality), combatting police brutality has become a major focus of the movement. In 2014, the movement organized a Freedom Ride to Ferguson in response to the shooting of Michael BrownWikipedia. After the end of the march in Ferguson, BLM affiliates went on to develop local chapters across the country and the Black Lives Matter Global Network. [8]

Beginning in July 2016, Black Lives Matter Los Angeles (BLM-LA) organized a 56-day-long camp-in at City Hall to demand the firing of former LAPD chief Charlie Beck for managing the deadliest police force in the US. The police commissioner had just ruled that a police officer who shot and killed Redel Jones, a 30-year-old woman who struggled with homelessness, was fleeing from police, and alleged had a knife, had not violated LAPD's use-of-force rules.[9] This demonstration saw the membership of BLM-LA double.[8]

Right-wing[edit]

The right-wing media has had a field day with Black Lives Matter protesters. In December 2014, the Fox-affiliated channel WBFF (serving the Baltimore area) was caught editing footage from a march in Washington DC to make it sound as if protestors were chanting "We won’t stop, we can’t stop, so kill a cop"...the chant actually said "We won’t stop, we can’t stop, ‘til killer cops, are in cell blocks". They claimed it was a "mistake".[10]

Unsurprisingly, the person you might suspect has called Black Lives Matter protesters "thugs".

Law enforcement[edit]

The NYPD's unions have strongly opposed reform measures by suing over anti-chokehold laws, for the reinstatement of the officer who killed Eric Garner, and to block the release of body cam footage. They also enjoy posting racist shit on Twitter.[3]

Reform[edit]

After the death of Eric Garner, New York's state legislature banned the use of chokeholds. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order in 2015 that designates New York State Attorney General as a special prosecutor for cases involving the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of law enforcement.[3]

Some police departments, the NYPD included, have sought bias and de-escalation training for officers, but there is little evidence to suggest these trainings are effective in preventing tragedy; for instance, the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks had undergone anti-bias and de-escalation trainings just months prior to killing him.[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. "Dallas officer fired for killing innocent man in his own apartment", BBC News. 24 September 2018.
  2. "Amber Guyger, Ex-Officer Who Killed Man In His Apartment, Given 10 Years In Prison", Allyn, Bobby. NPR. 2 October 2019.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 [1], Human Rights Watch. “Kettling” Protesters in the Bronx. 30 September 2020.
  4. [2], McCarthy, Tom. "The uncounted: why the US can't keep track of people killed by police." March 18, 2015. The Guardian.
  5. Mapping Police Violence
  6. Campaign Zero's California Police Scorecard
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 [3], Mapping Police Violence's 2017 Police Violence Report.
  8. 8.0 8.1 [4], "Celebrating Four Years of Organizing to Protect Black Lives"
  9. [5], Levin, Sam. "Hundreds dead, no one charged: the uphill battle against Los Angeles police killings."The Guardian. 24 August 2018.
  10. "After the Death of Two Cops, Right-Wing Media Demonize #BlackLivesMatter Protests", Savan, Leslie. The Nation. 24 December 2014.