“I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color” this are the words of National Football League professional Colin Kaepernick (Caldwell, 2017, p.67) . Kaepernick actions were a consequence of police brutality against a particular racial group of US civilians. The police hold a unique position in the American society. Law enforcing officers are the only individuals in the United States authorized to use ‘reasonable’ force against civilians. This right indicates that the police officers may only use legal means within reason to apprehend criminal suspects. The limits of ‘reason’ are held within the law; however, over the last decade, a number of cases of police brutality instances have hit the headline. Oscar Grant, Christopher Harris, Walter Harvin, Mike Brown, Robert Davis, and Angelina Garbarino are some of the few names that have been in the mainstream media in association with police brutality. Video clips from the aforementioned cases are clear indication that the force used by the police in some cases go beyond ‘reasonable’ extents. A factor that led to the ‘war on cops’ phenomenon. However as indicated by Cole, Smith, and DeJong (2016), the whole foundation of police brutality seems to be deeply rooted beyond the cases presented by the media; for instance even in the aforementioned cases the simple question of why did the police officer use excessive force has never been answered. Additionally, there from other cases such as that of Christopher Harris, the law seems to have a leniency on police actions against civilians considering deputy sheriff Matthew Paul has never faced any charges for actions that led an innocent person in a comma. From particular cases, is seems that Colin Kaepernick are in all senses not only true and justifiable but a sign that the police force is a key proponent of racial profiling and prejudice.
Police brutality is a phenomenon that has been a part of America for centuries; however, up until 2016, all issues was not a national hot topic after the death of Delrawn Small on the 4th, Alton Sterling 5th, and philandon Castile 6th. According to Bergman, Walker, and Jean (2016), it was after the aforementioned consecutive murders that the issues of police brutality became a mainstream media issue. Several top-ranking individuals took notice of the matter, but National Football League professional Colin Kaepernick became the voice of racial prejudice by the police. Francisco 49ers quarterback Kaepernick went down on one knee in protest of the open inequality and brutality that fellow black Americans were facing in the hands of law enforcement officers. A study by Cole, Smith, and DeJong (2016), indicated that Kaepernick resonated to not only African Americans but the entire country and for the first time in US history police brutality was not only issues that need a quick solution but a unifying call for the end of racial prejudice.
Relationship between Police Brutality and Racial Profiling
Over the last decade and a half, the criminal justice system has been grappling with the issues of racial disparity and though the issues are not similar to police brutality, the two phenomena are closely related issues. African Americans are more likely to have interactions with the police officers than non-black communities. According to American Civil Liberties (2016), although blacks and whites self-report using drugs at about the same rights, African Americans are three times as likely to be arrested for marijuana use than whites. Such levels of disparities are evident in different levels of the criminal justice system; for instance, African Americans are more likely to be investigated by law enforcement offices, arrested, charged, and convicted as well as receive longer sentences than their non-colored counterparts offenders (Neillis et al., 2008).
Despite the fact that racial discrimination in the criminal justice system does not, on its own, submit the premise that African Americans are disproportionately victims of police brutality, it does offer a clear indication that, through more frequent contact with law enforcement officers than other racial groups, blacks are at a greater risk of police brutality.
Police brutality is not a new phenomenon in the criminal justice system; however, it has been hidden and ignored for years. Nevertheless, the introduction of the smartphone, Close Circuit TV access, and the interest has increased the ease with which the public can record as well as share such actions. A factor that Caldwell (2017) is a reason not to ignore police brutality. In reality, the modern debate over issues of police brutality was initiated by the killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson Missouri.
Black lives matter Movement
On August 9, 2014, law enforcement officer shot one Michael Brown in a case that seemed to be a clear case of police brutality. Initially, due to his race, some individuals though that Mike Brown had committed some criminal activity that warranted him being gunned down: however, thanks to a smartphone footage, the only offense mike had committed before his murder was Jaywalking. It was also clear officer Wilson did take notice of the fact that Mike Brown had not committed n offense warranting ‘excessive force’. Nevertheless, no legal action was taken against Officer Wilson a factor that led to the increased protest. Nevertheless, the Ferguson police department went ahead with using military-style weapons to disperse protesters at the scene of the murder; consequently, violating the first amendment right of protest. It is at this point that the black lives matter movement became an idea. Two years later in 2016, the movement was actualized during the protest of George Zimmerman of Trayvon Martin.
According to its founders Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors is a political as well as ideological movement that seeks to find justice for the oppressed. Since 2016, the Black lives matter movement has been playing an active in presenting cases of police brutality against the members of the African American community through peaceful protests and discussions. According to Nellis, Greene, and Mauer (2008), the black lives matters groups have been asking the right questions to the authority seeking proper equal treatment to all and a reconsideration of the ‘reasonable’ force ideology. A year since its formation black lives matter movement has advocated for the justice department to take action on law enforcement officers who are reported to assault civilians. The issuance of body cameras to all police officers in order to get accurate accounts of cases indicated to have been brutal in nature. The use of stun guns in cases that need the application of increased force instead of live bullets. Some of these issues have been addressed to the benefit of the police being accountable to their actions: however, on July 7, 2016, five police officers were shot during a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas, Texas. This was later followed ten days later three other officers were murdered by two gunmen who were suspected to be in retaliation for the lives of their fellow African Americans who lost their lives through police brutality. As cited by Bergman, Walker, and Jean, (2016), this was the beginning of the ‘War on Cops’.
War on the Cops
Over the last year, there has been an escalation of aggression against the police by a number of police officers in particular white law enforcement officers. According to Cole, Smith, and DeJong (2016), the war on cops analogy is a consequent of police brutality against particular races and is not a new phenomenon; however, since 2016 it has become a bloody factor. According to statistics by Caldwell (2017), a total of about 200 police officers have been killed or injured in cases that are retaliatory towards police officers. Nevertheless, the ‘Blue lives Matter’ movement has addressed this matter by indicating the innocence of police officers in conducting their work. The movement acknowledges the fact that over the years there have been instances of police brutality consequent of which a variety of policies have been put in place to protect the lives of all civilian s form police using excessive force.
However, according to Nellis, Greene, and Mauer (2008), there are no ‘wars against cops’ since other than the instance in Dallas, Texas all other cases of police attacks are not related to African Americans retaliation against police brutality. The two individuals who killed three police officers in Baton Rouge did not act on behalf of the Black lives matter movement, nor the African American community in general. The Black matters live movement has always advocated for the protection of the police considering the fact that in some cases they understood that police act out of fear. Additionally, a statistical study by American Civil Liberties Union (2016), indicates that since the formation of the black lives matter movement, most of the police officers killed in the lined of duty were attacked by white males. The case of the ‘war on cops has additionally been misrepresented considering the declining number of law enforcer deaths at work has been on a steady decline for the last decade while the cases of brutality.
Police brutality has been a case that has been present in the US for decades, however, in 2016 after the consecutive and publicized deaths of Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, and philandon Castile. In all the above cases, the victims lost their lives through circumstances that clearly indicated that the police officers were acting on heightened aggression to a particular race in particular African Americans. The ideology of racial disparities in the criminal justice system has been a factor that has been discussed for years. However, for the first time, African Americans were being killed even before they had the chance to go to court. It was at this point that the ‘Black lives matter’ initiative was formed. Its work was aiding getting justice for the badly oppressed considering the fact that in almost all cases of police brutality the officers have not faced any kind of justice. Nevertheless, in the process, after an attack on police officers at a black lives matter protest in Dallas, Texas the idea of ‘war on cops’ was initiated. However, through the study is has become apparent that there is no war on cops. Additionally, the case of police brutality is being given much attention by the police a factor indicating a better future for the US.
American Civil Liberties Union (2016). Racial Dispartities in the Criminal Justice. Pdf source . Retrieved from ACLU website: https://www.aclu.org/sites/default/files/assets/141027_iachr_racial_disparities_aclu_submission_0.pdf
Bergman, M. E., Walker, J. M., & Jean, V. A. (2016). A Simple Solution to Policing Problems: Women!. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 9(3), 590-597.
Caldwell, C. E. (2017). Black Lives Matter: A Corporate Conversation Worth Having? (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from https://digital.library.txstate.edu/handle/10877/6685
Cole, G. F., Smith, C. E., & DeJong, C. (2016). Criminal justice in America. Nelson Education.
Nellis, A., Greene, J. A., & Mauer, M. (2008). Reducing racial disparity in the criminal justice system: A manual for practitioners and policymakers. Sentencing Project. Retrieved from http://www.sentencingproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Reducing-Racial-Disparity-in-the-Criminal-Justice-System-A-Manual-for-Practitioners-and-Policymakers.pdf