POLICE RACISM AGAINST THE BLACK COMMUNITY IN THE US 7
PoliceRacism against the Black Community in the US
PoliceRacism against the Black Community in the US
Thousandsof protestors gathered in New York City to protest the murder of EricGarner, a 43 year old black New York resident who was murdered by thepolice earl this month. The demonstration brought together members ofall walks of life in the Just for All rally in New York. The protesthappened a day after Eric Garner succumbed to death following a heartattack after the police executed an illegal chock hold on the victim.The demonstrators were echoing the chants “Hands up, I can’tbreathe, don’t shoot and No justice no peace” in the rally(Reinl,2014).The protest comes in months after the demise of Michael Brown, who isa black teenager and shot dead in Ferguson Missouri by a white policeofficer. Recent reports on murder cases conducted by the policedepartment have raised eyebrows on the current state of U.S criminaljustice system. A study conducted by the Washington Post in 2012revealed that 84% of all black Americans believe that the justicesystem is unfair to them. This is contrary to the 73-89% range thatwas reported in the early 1990’s S (isthe criminal-justice system racist?, 2012).According to Maxine Walters, a Los Angeles congresswoman, the systemis racist. She also adds that the color of someone’s skindetermines whether one is prosecuted, arrested or given probation.The circumstances surrounding the recent police racism has sparkedprotests in several parts of the U.S (isthe criminal-justice system racist?, 2012).Several approaches utilized by the police have been cited as the maincause of police violence towards the minority. However, there aredifferent sides of the coin in this story. In this essay, the authorwill focus on four cases studies in the black community in an attemptto shed more light on the issue.
JesseJackson has decried over the current criminal justice system inAmerica. He states that the black community is overrepresented inprison because the black minorities are held to strict standards thanthe whites. President Obama also echoed these sentiments during his2008 Presidential debate where he mentioned that the black and whitecommunities are arrested at different rates and are convicted atdifferent rates and are offered different sentences for the samecrime. The blacks account for 38.9% of all crime related arrestswhile they account for 12.6% of all of the U.S population. Criticsagree that such statistics prove police bias against the blackminority and illustrate that the black are the subject of policeunfair target (isthe criminal-justice system racist?, 2012).
EricGarner was the recent victim of brutality and the use of excess forceapplied by the police when conducting an arrest. The 43 year old NewYork resident faced death after he was put on a chokehold by thepolice officers. In an exclusive video obtained by the New York DailyNews, the deceased begged the officers to let him breath as he layhelplessly on the ground. The exclusive video footage which was hassince been removed by the newspaper at the request of police showsthe exact details of the incident. In the video, Garner refuses toput hands behind his back as well as asked an officer not to touchhim. Garner was tired of the police stopping him and attempting toarrest him for the second time for allegedly selling untaxedcigarettes. It was then that two police officers jumped on him,slammed him against the ground and put the 43 year old on achokehold. The victim was screaming for I can’t breathe, I can’tbreathe before suffering a cardiac arrest which ended his life. EricGarner, a 43 year old black New York resident lost his life at thehands of the police officers leaving behind six children. The NewYork incident sparked rage across New York and other part of theCounty and some parts of the world such as Toronto, Canada wheresimilar protests were held. In the video, it is very clear that thepolice did not refrain from using a chokehold despite the victimbegging for shortness of breath. According to a 22 year old observerwho also took the video, foam was oozing from his mouth as the policeinsisted that he was doing ok. Another witness who was interviewed bythe paper added that Garner was not selling cigarettes. What wasreally disappointing was the police use of the chokehold which wasbanned in 1993 by Ray Kelley who was the then Police Commissioner inNew York. In addition, a 2004 NYPD patrol guide prohibits policeofficers from using a chokehold or applying any pressure to thethroat which may prevent intake of air or breathing. While no policeaction has been take on the policeman responsible for conducting thechokehold, the police insist that Mr. Garner resisted arrest and tooka fighting stance. Members who knew Mr. Garner described him as a“big teddy bear”(Murdock,2014).
MichaelBrown brutal murder is probably the one that highlighted the peak ofpolice brutality against the black community. Michael Brown, an 18year old teenager was murdered by a white police on August 9, 2014 inFerguson, Missouri. The murder of Michael Brown, sparked a 10 daysprotest after it was discovered that Michael faced his death uponcoming into contact with six gunshots that were fired on close rangeto the victim. Michael Brown was in his neighborhood and was unarmedat the time when he was murdered. The police department reported thatthere was a struggle between Officer Wilson and the teenager beforehe was shot multiple times on the chest and the head. However, somewitnesses say that Brown was surrendering and had his hands up duringthe incident (Reuters,2014).Police Officers insist that Darren Wilson, the white police officerwho killed Michael Brown has a clean record. However, some reportshave emerged that Darren Wilson was part of a 45 member police forcethat was disbanded upon claims of corruption and racism at theJennings police department. It is alleged that the police officerswere fired after a member of the police force shot at a vehiclecarrying a woman and a child following a chase. Darren Wilson got aposition in the police force after turning in a man involved in drugs(Azikiwe,2014).Darren Wilson did not get any disciplinary action from the policedepartment following the incident and was instead given a paidvacation. The news about the clearance of any wrong doing by DarrenWilson has not augured well with most U.S residents. This was afterthe St. Louis County grand jury cleared Wilson of any wrong doing.
InLos Angeles, a similar case of the police against the black communitywas recorded in South L.A neighborhood. However, this case ispeculiar as it involves a black man who was mentally ill. Ezell Ford,a 25 year old black Los Angeles resident was brutally murdered by twopolice officers who are yet to be identified by the LAPD. Accordingto the LAPD report, Ford was shot by two anti-gang officers whoopened fire at the deceased after a struggle. However, this report iscontrary to the neighbors and eyewitness report who dispute thepolice report. The neighbors and eyewitness insist that Ford’smental state was well known by the police and around theneighborhood. An eyewitness who talked to the Huffington Postreported that one of the police officer shouted shoot him prior tofiring three bullets at Ford in close range. Ezell Ford was at theground at the time of the shooting. The following day, 50 protestorsmatched Florence, where Ford died. However, what has angered theresidents of South Los Angeles is the fact that the police departmenthas delayed the autopsy of Ezell Ford(Fener,2014).This follows days after Michael Brown was brutally murdered inFerguson, Missouri.
Itis not deniable that there is an increase in police racism againstthe black community. However, the police force cannot be blamed forthe brutality and the excess use of force as the law allows it. Forinstance, Darren Wilson was allowed to go scot-free after committingmurder. The police law requires serious reforms on laws such as thecontroversial stand your ground law. This law allows police officersto apply the rules of self-defense when confronted by armedindividuals. However from citing the different cases of policeincidents against the black community, none of the individuals werearmed. The law should therefore be allowed to take its course becausethis is murder. There seems to be special rules for police officerswho are abusing the law at the expense of the black community. Aserious overhaul on police rules and laws is imperative.
ISTHE CRIMINAL-JUSTICE SYSTEM RACIST?(2012). Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Discover The Networks :http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewsubcategory.asp?id=1627
Azikiwe,A. (2014, August 25). PoliceKilling of African American Youth Galvanized the Struggle AgainstRacism in the U.S.Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Global Research:http://www.globalresearch.ca/police-killing-of-african-american-youth-galvanized-the-struggle-against-racism-in-the-u-s/5397638
Fener,M. (2014, August 20). LAPDPuts `Investigative Hold` On Release Of Ezell Ford Autopsy.Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Huffing Post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/19/ezell-ford-autopsy_n_5690060.html
Murdock,S. (2014, December 7). `GentleGiant` Dies After NYPD Cop Puts Him In Chokehold.Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Huffington Post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/18/nypd-chokehold-death_n_5599252.html
Reinl,J. (2014, December 14). `Enoughis enough`: US anti-racism protests.Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Al Jazeera:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2014/12/enough-us-anti-racism-protests-2014121472141788252.html
Reuters.(2014, August 30). UNcommittee on racism slams US over police brutality after MichaelBrown killing and calls for review of `Stand Your Ground` laws .Retrieved December 14, 2014, from Mail Online:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738734/UN-committee-racism-slams-US-police-brutality-Michael-Brown-killing-calls-review-Stand-Your-Ground-laws.html