Police Brutality is an issue all over America but, I would like to focus on the East Coast of America. Police brutality has been an issue since 1872 when police officers beat a civilian who was under arrest at the Harrison Street Police Station and had been going on ever since. Police brutality started in 1872 and has been increasing ever since. Nowadays police brutality is always on the news.
The passing of Eric Garner and how it affected his family after he was killed due to police brutality is a powerful story. Eric Garner was choked to death by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island, New York, on July 17, 2014. After officers approached Mr. Garner on suspicion of selling single cigarettes from packs without tax stamps. When the NYPD officers tried to arrest Mr. Garner he refused, and officer Pantaleo put his arm around Garner’s neck and took him down onto the ground. While Mr. Garner was on the sidewalk, he repeated ‘I can’t breathe’ eleven times while lying face down on the sidewalk. Eric Garner was a 43-year-old African American man who had the rest of his life to live. Eric Garner was a husband, son, brother, and father of six children. At the time of his passing, he also had a 3-month-old child. Twenty-seven months after Mr. Garners passing his mother Gwen Carr says, ‘This is worse than a nightmare. Nightmares end.
This pain never ends. I live with this every single day,’ This shows that police brutality is something horrifying, and it doesn’t just have one victim it has multiple victims. It affects their family members, friends, coworkers, etc. Losing someone you love can make you stress, drink, and causes depression. Families feel lost after their loved ones die due to police brutality. Some parents do not let their children out at night because they are afraid for them. Most people are also afraid of the police instead of feeling safe around them. Police brutality is damaging the black community’s mental health death after death. After the passing of Eric Garner, the whole country reacted to how he was choked to death in just minutes. There were protesters all over California after a grand jury declined to indict a white police officer in the death of Eric Garner people in California. Around 400 protesters walked the streets in Berkeley, California.
The majority of the group were student protesters. Their plan was to march from the University of California, Berkeley campus to Oakland’s Civic Center. Some of the protesters began smashing the windows of nearby businesses and pelting officers with rocks, bricks, and bottles. Police told the protesters to calm down and stop, but they didn’t, so they deployed tear gas to break up the crowds. Police Brutality has increased a lot in these last few years. According to The Washington Post 981 people have been shot and killed by New York police in 2017 and 1,000 people have been shot and killed by New York police in 2018. In New York City, 91 people were fatally shot by police officers in 1971 if you compare this to recent years the difference is exponential. Why does police brutality keep increasing? How do you think we can stop it from increasing? Majority of the victims of police brutality are African Americans. ‘Data suggests that any perception that higher numbers of unarmed African-Americans are being killed by the police in recent months” (The Washington Post) 26 percent were black, 2 percent were white, and 17 percent were Hispanic. People killed by police in 2015 and 2016 had a median age of 35. Most of the victims had another half of their life to live.
In New York City there was also a law called the “Search And Frisk’, and it allowed police officers to temporarily detain, question, and search civilians on the street for weapons and other contraband. It is also known in other places in the United States as the Terry Stop. Stop and frisk was first ruled in 1968. Before that, a police officer could search only someone who had been arrested or if they had a search warrant. In the early 1980s a police officer was allowed to stop and ask you questions if they had reasonable suspicion and if the suspect’s answers were not suspicions then they were to be released right away but, they weren’t allowed to search and frisk. Between 2003 and 2013, over 100,000 stops were made per year in New York City.
In order for an officer to stop a suspect, according to the fourth amendment they must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been, is being, or is about to be committed by the suspect. The vast majority of suspects in search and frisk are people of color. According to Wikipedia “90% in 2017, of those stopped were African-American or Latino” suspects were also aged around 14–24. 70% of all those stopped were later found to be innocent. In most stop and frisks the suspects were innocent. In 2002, there were 97,296 ‘stop and frisk’ stops made by New York police officers 82.4% resulted in no fines or convictions. This shows how police brutality is going on the east coast and has been going on for a long time. President Donald Trump said “Stop and Frisk Is Both Unconstitutional and Ineffective” if the president does not support search and frisks then why is it still a thing. We should try to stop it. This is making people scared of the police. Imagine being innocent and police stopping you and forcing their hands on you.
On February 26, 2012, Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by officer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old junior high school student where he attended Dr. Michael M. Krop High School. Trayvon lived with his mother and older brother in Miami Gardens, Florida. Zimmerman was born in Manassas, Virginia. Zimmerman shot Martin, who was unarmed and claimed it was self-defense after. Martin left the house to purchase Skittles and iced tea at a nearby gas station. Zimmerman saw Martin and called 911 to report a ‘suspicious guy’ because Martin was running in between homes.
The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to get out of his car, but he disregards instructions and pursued Martin. Video footage was released of Martin shopping for food at 7-11 showing no “criminal or aggressive behavior”. Martin was on the phone with his girlfriend while he was walking back home when he was spotted by Zimmerman, Martin noticed he was being followed, so he started to run said his girlfriend. Zimmerman caught up with Martin and it isn’t quite clear what happened after that, but it ended with Zimmerman shooting Martin in the chest and he passed away shortly after just hundred yards from the door of the townhouse where he was staying.
Imagine your son being killed due to police brutality a few feet away from your home. You will remember all the memories every time you walk outside your house. Teenagers aren’t even safe walking around their neighbor without being scared. Zimmerman was not charged with for the death of Martin. Martin was an athletically-inclined teen with an eye towards aviation, Martin had no criminal record when he was shot and killed. Zimmerman can easily avoid this situation if he had for backup as told. Zimmerman went against instructions, killed an innocent teen and was not charged for any crime. This is setting a bad example for other police officers it might make them think its alright to disobey instructions and get away with any crime.
In Downtown Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania another African American teen was shot to death in the back by Officer Michael Rosenfeld. Antwon Rose was 17 years old who was a passenger in a car that was stopped by police on June 19, 2018, instead of stopping the 20-year-old driver decided to flee. Officer Rosenfeld followed the car. The car Rose was in stopped and everyone ran out of the vehicle. Officer Rosenfeld opened fire at Rose and the other 2 passengers. Rose was shot in the arm, face, and back as he fled. Rose and his friends did not show Officer Rosenfeld any harm. Officer Rosenfeld did not have to shoot any shots he could have called backup and dealt the situation without anybody getting hurt. Officer Rosenfeld saw a black teenager run away from him, unarmed and thought it was alright to shoot. The African American community of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania reacted to this by protesting in downtown Pittsburgh.
Hundreds stood on the steps of the county courthouse while Christian Carter a classmate of Rosenfeld and organizer of his school’s walkout for gun violence read from a poem by Rosenfeld in memory of Rosenfeld. Some lines from her speech were “I am confused and afraid / I wonder what path I will take / I hear that there are only two ways out / I see mothers bury their sons / I want my mom to never feel that pain,” This shows how much pain and lives the death of Rose caused. Every time police kill an innocent, loving and caring person they aren’t just harming the victim but also his loved ones. Police officers use all types of weapons to hurt innocent people, such as knives, guns, arms, and tasers.
On August 9 of 2014, another life was lost due to police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. Michael Brown Jr who was an 18-year-old African American teen. Brown was shot 6 times by Darren Wilson a 28-year-old white police officer. Reports say Brown and his friend Dorian Johnson approached the vehicle officer Wilson was in. Once they approached the car Wilson said that an altercation ensued when Brown attacked Wilson. After that Brown and Johnson fled and Officer Wilson pursued. After a few minutes, Brown and Johnson stopped their car and officer Wilson decided to fire shots striking Brown 6 times out of 12. Brown was a young African American who had a bright future, Brown had just graduated from Normandy High School 8 days before he was killed. In the case the State of Missouri v. Darren Wilson the federal investigation cleared Wilson of civil rights violations in the shooting on March 4, 2015. The grand jury only had three black members (one man and two women) and nine whites (six men and three women). Which is about 30% black, and 70% white according to Wikipedia. After officer Wilson was cleared of the charges the African American community in Ferguson, Missouri reacted with lots of protests.
The protests were both peaceful and violent and continued for more than a week after Brown’s death. His death immediately had a big reaction from the community with protests and vigils beginning that day. Some protesters began looting businesses in the Ferguson area for several hours, leaving a trail of broken glass and burned-out storefronts in their wake. President Obama was speaking at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington on September 28, 2014, a little over a month after the death of Brown. President Obama said the death of Brown “awakened our nation” to a reality that black citizens already understood. President Obama also said “In too many communities around the country, a gulf of mistrust exists between local residents and law enforcement,” and “Too many young men of color feel targeted by law enforcement — guilty of walking while black or driving while black, judged by stereotypes that fuel fear and resentment and hopelessness.” This is truly horrifying even the President of America notices these issues but, still haven’t found a solution.
On July 6, 2016, in St. Anthony, Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez, shot and killed Philando Castile a 32-year-old black American. Castile was driving around 9:00 pm with his girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, and her four-year-old daughter when he was pulled over by Yanez and his partner Joseph Kauser. Officer Yanez approached Castile in his vehicle and asked for license and Castile replied with “I have a firearm” and officer Yanez replied ‘Don’t reach for it then’ and Castile calmly replied ‘I’m not pulling it out’ right before officer Yanez shot him several times in his vehicle in front of his girlfriend and her daughter. During the interaction between Castile and officer Yanez, Reynold stared Facebook live and streamed the whole incident. Philando Castile was born on July 16, 1983, in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2001 Castile had graduated from Saint Paul Central High School and in 2002 started working for Saint Paul Public School District until his death. Castile was just another African American who was trying to provide for his family and lost his life early due to police brutality.
Officer Yanez was 28 years old at the time of the shooting. Officer Yanez was charged with three felonies: one count of second-degree manslaughter and two counts of dangerous discharge of a firearm and fired on June 16, 2017. Police have really gotten out of control. Officer Yanez did not care that a 4-year-old girl was in the car while he was shooting, he could have an accident shot and killed her an innocent little child. The daughter of Diamond Reynolds should be terrified after witnessing someone gets shot and killed right in front of her in just seconds. Hundreds of people protested for the death of Philando Castile outside the Governor’s Residence in St. Paul, Minnesota, and marched onto Interstate 94 and shut down the highway for 5 hours chanting “Black Lives Matter”.
The protests got violent after a few hours and 21 officers were injured by fireworks, bricks, glass bottles, and rocks. One officer was hit in the face by a bottle and suffered minor injuries. The mother of Philando Castile, Valerie Castile says “On behalf of myself and our entire family, we urge all people to remain peaceful in all demonstrations throughout our community and our nation. When demonstrations become violent, it disrespects my son and his memory. Philando was a man of peace and dignity. Please, I ask you to at all times remain peaceful in your expressions of concern regarding his death at the hands of the police. I promise that we will not rest until justice prevails.” in response to the violent protests.
Another African American teen named Anton Black died September 15th, 2018 after an “11-minute struggle with three Greensboro police” Video shows Thomas Webster IV using a stun gun on and struggling with 19-year-old Anton Black, whose September death fueled an outcry. After police approached Black for possible kidnapping because “Black and a 12-year-old were clowning around” said the family’s lawyer. Black took off running to his vehicle and once he got inside one of the officers smashed the driver’s window and tased Black. Black managed to get away again before he was captured and dropped to the floor where he passed out.
In my opinion Police Brutality is the lack of discipline to the officers. Officers are getting paid to kill innocent people. Before you become a Police Officer you have to go to the police academy for 22 weeks or 880 hours in that time police officers should be taught when to use their firearms. The more police officers don’t get convicted for killing innocent African Americans the more police officers are going to think its alright to kill. As an African American teen, I am scared for my life because people of color are more at risk of police brutality. Other African Americans and I have to be more careful when we are walking around because we have a target on us. I don’t think violent protests help the situation that will just make us more of a target. If we want to help police brutality decrease we have to show those police officers are not disciplined enough to be in control of a firearm. They also think it’s alright to shoot innocent people because all these other officers are getting away with it.
This data shows that police brutality is going an issue on the east coast of America ever since 1872. From the passing of Eric Garner after he was choked to death by NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo in Staten Island, New York, on July 17, 2014. To the passing of Trayvon Martin after he was shot to death by officer George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida. Police brutality has been in the news more seems like we lose a person of color to police brutality every week. Police brutality is a big issue on the east coast of America.