The men and women that are sworn into a civil force of our national government are the people who are responsible to protect and serve the public and maintain public order. However, “Police officers are generally allowed to use whatever force is necessary to make an arrest or defend themselves” (Tarleton), yet this can be unlawful if the use of force is an intentional use of verbal attacks or excessive force directed towards a citizen. The excessive force can be physical or psychological intimidation. This use of force is used by a police officer known as police brutality which has been a controversial topic in modern day America. However, What is the social and emotional effects of excessive use of force by police officers throughout the 21st century on minorities within the United States?
Furthermore, police brutality is viewed as a form of misconduct which involves police corruption, racial profiling, and false alerts. This form of excessive use of force from officers is mainly directed towards many vulnerable groups within the U.S like the poor, elderly, and most importantly the minority community. Besides, this problem is not just an American problem, it is highly evident that this occurs in many countries all over the world where a police force is present. Undoubtingly, this issue has increased since the beginning of the 21st century. Vox has reported in 2015 that “US police have killed at least 5,600 people since 2000” and many of these deaths have been from excessive use of force by a firearm, automobile, and asphyxiation. This issue affects the general public with racism and violating citizens constitutional rights.
Although, this issue affects the minority community within the U.S due to racial discrimination being one of the main factors to instigating police brutality in society. This topic is very important to research because it helps to notice the importance of understanding the impact racism and mental health has on minorities who’ve fallen a victim to the excessive use of force from police officers.
However, racial profiling is another social effect that’s caused when a “member of certain a race is considered to be more likely involved in criminal behavior as a result of his race” (Police). This is a leading factor when it comes to police brutality on minorities and tends to be a false alert most of the time. The Guardian states that “People who are African-American/Black are twice as likely to be killed by a police officer while being unarmed compared to a Caucasian/White individual.” What this means is that the oppressed race is often accused of committing crimes whether or not there is valid evidence that’s available to make accusable claims. Many officers do not get prosecuted for the killing of many individuals throughout the entire nation. Mapping Police Violence utters, that “97% of the cases of police brutality that were tracked in 2015 did not result in any officer-involved being charged with a crime.” Although the sworn duty of police officers is to keep citizens safe; oppression, violence, and health disparities have been disproportionately impacting minority communities in the US.
In addition, the history of police brutality has been perpetrated against the individuals who are part of a lower social class with the US, this all started with the commencing of worker strikes during the 1900s. The excessive use of force was permitted in order to use it against the citizens who decided to strike big companies and was seen as a form to oppress many labor strikes. Police Officers using excessive use of force was very common throughout the Civil Rights movement when officers were allowed to physically and mentally attack protests by saying racial slurs, spraying them down with water hoses, and also by having police dogs attack them. However, a case that caused the topic of police brutality to sprout to the media and the general public was the beating of a Rodney Glen King on March 3, 1991, in Los Angeles, California. Rodney King was trying to avoid being arrest by law enforcement for speeding while driving under the influence which leads to an 8-mile long car chase. All 3 men in the car King and his friend Bryant Allen and Freddie Helms pull over where Los Angeles Police Department officials approach the car and later manhandled, stomp, taunt, kick, and make threats towards all three individuals. This later caused a lot of commotion that had an outburst of riots that happened in LA making it feel like if this was like the post-civil rights era. Police Brutality is most common minorities and is seen as a form of racial stereotypes. Factors that contribute to this issue is the oppression, racism, violence minorities face from law enforcement authorities. The causes that contribute to police brutality is how the media portrays minorities as low-income gang members who steal and cause violence.
Nevertheless, this is a very controversial topic within the U.S and this tends to many obscure perspectives. Current U.S President Donald J. Trump proclaimed during his campaign for the presidency “We have to give power back to the police” (USA Today). This means that many conservatives are blind about these social problems in today’s society. An article conducted by USA Today depicts conservatives views on police officers that “72% of conservatives believe Police Officers are trustworthy and honest, 35% believe most police think they’re above the law, and finally 63% thinks the justice system treats everyone equally.” Adding on, an article conducted by the Wall Street Journal by writer Heather MacDonald stated, “policemen who should be fearful of blacks… police officers are killed by blacks at a rate of 2.5 times higher than the rate at which blacks are killed by police”. This tends to show that the people who agree that police brutality or who are blinded towards it don’t see it a problem. Most people who tend to believe this are conservatives who support Trump the wrongful acts of many police officers and many who are against the Blacks Lives Matters movement which was founded in 2013 after the shooting of 17- year old unarmed Trayvon Martin who was killed by Officer George Zimmerman.
Police Officers tend to do traffic stops and if you’re Driving While Black (DWB), you have a greater chance of getting pulled over. The Washington Post states, “Black drivers are 31 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites; they are more than twice as likely to be subject to police searches as white drivers, and they are nearly twice as likely to not be given any reason for the traffic stop.” However, DWB is a form of racial profiling which was under racial discrimination. African Americans are more likely to go under an examination by a police officer than any other race. A numerous amount of citizens are pulled over each day and many for no extended reason simply for the color of their skin and how Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, cited in his “I have a Dream” speech “not the content of their character”.
Moreover, there’s an unequal treatment between citizens and by police officers within the U.S. This allows many police officers to get away with acts of brutality which revolve around racial oppression. There are many officers who abuse their power to their own benefit and put the lives of innocent citizens in front of them which leads to an oppressive society. Racial Oppression has become a social effect that leads to police brutality because of racism and discrimination towards a targeted group. Racial Oppression happens when a group with power can racially prejudice another group and still be considered the majority. What leads up to the excessive force on minorities is racial prejudice that affects the way policing is done within the US. Public monitoring is done differently like traffic stops; “In regards to traffic stops and vehicle searches, these data typically confirm the hypothesis of disparate impact by race: motorists of some minority groups, such as African-Americans and Hispanics, are much more likely than other motorists to be subjected to police searches of their vehicles” (Murillo and Knowles 2). This Indeed, implicits the term racial prejudice as a form of profiling.
Although, this does refer to the standard police practice of basing search decisions on the fit between the motorist and descriptions of criminals which is a form of racial profiling. Police Officer target the most vulnerable groups because they’re the ones with less power and are seen as less than others making them easier to target. Officers are most likely to be stereotypical about the area they patrol due to the crime rates an area might have; “larger proportion of officers made ‘highly prejudiced’ statements in Negro precincts than they did in racially mixed or white areas” (Balch 113).
Additionally, Racism just doesn’t play a huge factor in Police Brutality this the main component towards this issue and problem in the United States. Minorities are the people in this country who are oppressed the most throughout a system of racism and inequality. However, some information that helps provide a reason why Police Officers tend to target minorities is because of how the media has portrayed minorities as. The media tends to portray these people as gang members, hoodlums, and criminals. This leads up to why “officers view Black males as potential perpetrators and could lead to acts of brutality. In their research, the authors suggest that since Black people in general, and Black males in particular, are caricatured as aggressive and criminal, police are more likely to view Black men as a threat which justifies the disproportionate use of deadly force. Therefore, it is not beyond the realm of possibility that police officers’ decisions to act aggressively may, to some extent, be influenced by race (Chaney and Robertson 483)
. Police Officers tend to target minorities because of how they’ve been portrayed over the years and this Oppression leads to Discrimination, Prejudice and Racial Profiling which tends to be neglect by the police when it comes to serious crimes. However, this leads to more crime and violence within the minority community. As a result, this makes policing more present in minority neighborhoods which causes many policing actions like traffic stops and false arrest being done.
Furthermore, the excessive use of force on minorities have caused a huge crisis not just in the minority community, but the general public which leads to protest, crime, and riots. The excessive use of force increases the violence within this community. This later leads to a higher rate of crimes in these communities which leads to more policing and targeting innocent citizens. An increase in violence occurs when a victim of police brutality has been killed and justice wasn’t brought to light. Increasing protest and revolutionary movements like the BLM movement to fight racial injustice, violence and systemic racism towards black people.
However, crime tends to increase as “Americans are much more likely to own guns than their peers around the world. This means that conflicts — not just between police and civilians but between civilians — are more likely to escalate into deadly, violent encounters. The research bears this out: More guns lead to more gun violence” (Lopez). This means that more crimes tend to occur between civilians as gun ownership increases and this is prevalent in minority communities since more homicides by a firearm is more likely to occur in a low-income minority community. It’s been pointed out that “evidence suggests that a greater propensity for arguments to escalate to lethal violence, combined with easier access to firearms, contributes to higher rates of homicide in the United States” (Sackett). Police Officers are “given photographs and informational packets of offenders on probation” (Murray) in communities where crime is quite noticeable. Officers, target these areas in order to increase their monitoring and supervision on specific people who can be considered a threat and or dangerous for a community. However, violence within these communities becomes so common that it leads to more arrest being made than problems being solved in order for more public safety.
In addition, protest are a way to spread a message about an opinion. According to Dictionary.com protest are “an expression or declaration of objection, disapproval, or dissent, often in opposition to something a person is powerless to prevent or avoid”. Protest about police officers abusing their power and using an excessive use of force is quite common to occur when a case about an officer killing or shooting an unarmed man/woman happens. Protest are meant to be peaceful and to listen to the unheard voices who suffer the most when it comes to these social effects.