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Police brutality entails using excessive and unnecessary force by police officers. This concept is usually applied to civilians, even when they are not endangering the lives of policemen. The controversy marring brutality is not a new issue in the American Society. It is a problem that started in the 1870s. Cases of police misconduct have increased tremendously in the last couple of decades. The worst aspect regarding the subject issue is its racist foundation. Numerous cases have been reported where unarmed teenage African American youths have been handled with brutal force by the police. A perfect example of such an incident is how Trayvon Martin was killed by George Zimmerman back in 2012. Police brutality causes ethnic stereotypes, loss of lives, and hate between civilians and the police.
American police officers shoot and kill hundreds of civilians on an annual basis. The number of police brutality related deaths is higher in the U.S. than in other developed nations such as Germany, the UK, and Japan. In these countries, police officers can finish a whole year without killing over a dozen people. In 2017, police officers brutally murdered 19 unarmed men. In 2012, Martin succumbed to bullet wounds after being shot by Zimmerman in Sanford. By then, Martin was just a 17-year-old high school student. Zimmerman was working as a watch captain in a gated Florida neighborhood (Reinka and Leach 768). At the time of the shooting, Martin was visiting his father’s fiancé in the same area. Martin’s encounter with Zimmerman happened while he was heading to his father’s fiancé’s house after purchasing snacks at a convenience store. Zimmerman reported that Martin looked suspicious, and started pursuing him. The ensuing altercation led to Martin’s early demise. Although he was young and unarmed, Zimmerman shot and killed him. Zimmerman claimed that he shot Martin in self-defense fearing for his life. This incident is one among many where many police officers’ excuse for killing civilians is to protect themselves.
The complexity revolving around police brutality spreads to how the ensuing cases are handled. For instance, Zimmerman was acquitted in 2013, after the jury found him not guilty for the killing of Martin. Thus, many police officers have walked free after using their guns unprofessionally to cause harm to innocent civilians. Martin lost his life due to the use of excessive force on a teenage African American teenager. The acquittal of Zimmerman was met with angry shouts outside the courthouse (Reinka and Leach 772). African Americans who were seeking justice for Martin were surprised by the decision that favored Zimmerman. Martin’s shooting was not the last since many other similar issues have been witnessed in different parts of the U.S.
Police brutality ruins the chances of having good relationships between security forces and members of the public. It is indisputable that the police ought to offer security to civilians. However, when police officers become lawbreakers instead of enforcing the law, the end up fueling hate from the public. The U.S. government showcases the proper conduct and professionalism that all security agencies should observe (Gray and Parker 3). Any behavior that is disgraceful or unbecoming of police officers taints their image in the societies they serve. Most of the civilians end up feeling that they should not be under the authority of police officers. Both criminal and civil statutes set clear guidelines that all government employees should follow accordingly. In July 2016, three police officers were killed, while two escaped with severe injuries after being attacked in Baton Rouge. These killings occurred a few weeks after 37-year-old African American man names Alton Sterling was shot and killed by two policemen. The officers were recorded pinning him down as they shot him. This issue proves that they had overpowered him. Instead of arresting him, they went ahead and killed him (Ritchie 25). This occurrence is a clear indication of the bad relationship that is brewing between civilians and the police. Cases of police officers being attacked by civilians are also increasing. This unfortunate happening means that the right measures should be taken to eradicate police brutality. Failing to come up with a solution will lead to more conflicts in the future.
Ethnic stereotypes depict certain beliefs regarding the members of a particular ethnic group. In the U.S. African Americans are believed to be violent and prone to engage in crime. The phrase racial profiling can be defined as the act of targeting or suspecting individuals on an ethnic basis. As the police continue to brutalize blacks in connection to violence, they pave the way for the rest of the society to hold onto the existing stereotypes. The idea of shooting an unarmed teenage boy just because he is black proves that all races are not equal in the U.S. Also, the acquittal of guilty police officers affirms that police brutality is justified when the minority groups are the victims. These developments create an environment where the majority white community continues to believe that even teenage African Americans are dangerous (Gray and Parker 12). The prolonged belief in these stereotypes ends up hindering the possibility of peaceful cohesion between different races. Thus, racial tensions continue to pile up because of poor policing. The minority groups also develop hatred to the whites because they believe the police favors them. The bottom line is that police brutality is continually creating huge rifts between different American races.
As mentioned earlier, over a thousand people die due to police brutality every year. Without majoring in the victim’s ethnic backgrounds, it is evident that the American Society is losing many citizens. Police departments are institutions that should guarantee their subjects with safety. On the contrary, they are the perpetrators of violence that claims thousands of lives. This disparity is affecting many families and communities (Ritchie 38). When breadwinners in some families get killed, women and children are left suffering. Others are encouraged to join crime so that they can avenge their family members' deaths. The subject issue is that police brutality should be stopped because its impacts are detrimental.
Police brutality is atypical issues in the U.S. Over the years, thousands of people have died due to police officers' misconduct. The killing of Trayvon Martin portrays how young and unarmed people are unsafe. The worst case scenario is facing imminent death in the hands of policemen. Racial tensions are increasing in the U.S. because police brutality mostly targets African Americans. It has also caused a weak relationship between the public and security agencies. The worst impact is the innumerable deaths that are taking place each year. Based on these unfavorable outcomes, appropriate measures should be employed to curb a further spread of police brutality.
Gray, Andrew C., and Karen F. Parker. "Race, Structural Predictors, and Police Shootings: Are There Differences Across Official and “Unofficial” Accounts of Lethal Force?."Crime & Delinquency, no. 2, 2018, pp. 1-20.
Reinka, Mora A., and Colin Wayne Leach. "Race and reaction: Divergent views of police violence and protest against."Journal of Social Issues, no. 4, 2017, pp. 768-788.
Ritchie, Andrea J. Invisible No More: Police Violence against Black Women and Women of Color. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017. Print.
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