Racialized Violence and Police Brutality in Usa Essay

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.....police brutality against people of color has a long history in the United States, the Rodney King incident and the media attention it received promised to alter policy and public discourse. Yet police brutality continues to be a problem and threatens to undermine civil rights in America. Police brutality against visible minorities also erodes public trust in the institution of the law and the system of law enforcement. Those effects are palpable not only at the community level but also at the individual level of perceptions of police, as one study shows a substantial number of Americans have evolved contempt for law enforcement, suspicion of law enforcement, or "perceive law enforcement as agents of brutality," (Chaney and Robertson 480). Community policing models cannot take root or hope to mitigate or reverse the effects of these results unless there is a nationwide policy change to law enforcement organizational culture and training.

Fatalities at the hands of police have been estimated to be higher than they are for the general public, which should be grave cause for concern (Chaney and Robertson 480). Also alarming is the fact that police killings of civilians are not kept track of in any systematic way. The Department of Justice, the most natural agency that would keep track of police killings, does not maintain a federal database that would help researchers understand the extent of the problem and initiate public policy reform. The mere act of not keeping track of police killings in any systematic fashion symbolizes the problem with police brutality in general and police brutality against minorities specifically: the police and other agents of law enforcement possess the power not only to kill but to get away with it. Law enforcement ensures that it protects its own people and its organizational culture at the expense of their professed role as protector of citizens.

Third party organizations that attempt to research the problem of racial bias in police brutality cases do find statistically significant evident that such a bias exists. "The probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average," (Makareshi 1). Equally as disturbing is the fact that when that same data set was analyzed in terms of crime rates, the rates of police brutalities did not correspond with rates of crime. In other words, "the racial bias observed in police shootings in this data set is not explainable as a response to local-level crime rates," (Makareshi 1).

In press releases and public statements by police, the killing of black males in specific has been framed as "justifiable homicide," (Gilbert and Rashan 122). The "justifiable homicide" trope has permeated public discourse, too, rendering it almost impossible to change the narrative and cast doubt upon the notion that these admitted homicides are actually justifiable.

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When police revert to "justifiable homicides" when they claim officers felt/perceived threat from an unarmed black male, the police give tacit approval for members of the general public to do the same. The Trayvon Martin case perfectly highlights the racialization of killing and the pretense of "justifiable homicide" in America. The murder of black males as a whole is viewed as "justifiable," by the public and even in the eyes of the law. The Martin case, as well as predecessor examples from Rodney King onward, is not just about law enforcement perpetrating crimes against citizens. The entire legal system is at fault by refusing to recognize in any significant way the gross injustices perpetrated by police or citizens against people of color.

Police brutality against people of color is not about sporadic cases and examples of "bad cops." On the contrary, the problem is systemic and institutionalized. A code of silence binds offers, preventing them from speaking out against perceived injustices or racial biases. Police brutality is also reflective of a culture of violence within the police force, a determination to use force as a symbol of one's power and position in society vis-a-vis a dangerous black polity. The legal system fails to provide the necessary checks and balances needed to prevent police abuses of power. As Troutt puts it, the law is a "vague and malleable standard that privileges police justification and promotes narratives that render even the innocent justifiably dead," (18). The law weights police opinion highly, and the law also permits conflicts of interest between police and prosecutors (Troutt). In fact, the law is codified to protect the police and to allow the narrative "justifiable homicides" to influence jury decisions. Police brutality, and the lack of concern about police brutality in the justice system, further enhance social injustice and foment racism throughout the United States.

Unfortunately, imagining a future without race-based police brutality seems almost impossible. The historical pattern has blended denial with renewed justification of an entrenched system. "The….....

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Works Cited

Chaney, Cassandra and Robertson, Ray. "Racism and Police Brutality in America." Journal of African-American Studies, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 480-505.

Gilbert, Keon L. and Ray, Rashan. "Why Police Kill Black Males with Impunity: Applying Public Health Critical Race Praxis (PHCRP) to Address the Determinants of Policing Behaviors and "Justifiable" Homicides in the USA." Journal of Urban Health, Vol. 93, Supp. 1, pp. 122-140.

Makarechi, K. (2016). What the data really says about police and racial bias. Vanity Fair. Retrieved online: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/07/data-police-racial-bias

Troutt, David Dante. "Imagining Racial Justice in America." The Nation. 29 Dec, 2014. Retrieved online: http://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/39295435/IMAGINING_RACIAL_JUSTICE_IN_AMERICA.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJ56TQJRTWSMTNPEA&Expires=1479418404&Signature=44fHry0sN8hb5XP0j10Izw%2B0EMk%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DIMAGINING_RACIAL_JUSTICE_IN_AMERICA.pdf

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