Police Brutality and Racial Profiling

by grace_ocoin on October 31, 2016 - 9:49pm

 

A social issue that means a lot to me is police brutality and racial profiling leading to death of an innocent, unarmed African American. I read the article Sanburn, J., (2015, July 17). Eric Garner Witness Ramsey Orta Has Regrets One Year Later. Retrieved from http://time.com/ramsey-orta-eric-garner-video/. This article was written a year after the brutal death of Eric Garner by Ferguson police officer Pantaleo who Grand jury decided not to indict.

TIME Magazine talks to Ramsey Orta, who filmed the murder of Eric Garner before it became viral worldwide. They discuss how he is going to jail because he videotaped the infamous death of Garner. He says he regrets it because it has put him in a horrible predicament. I chose this article because this topic is something I am very passionate about and I don’t think it is right for Orta to be punished for doing the right thing and exposing the violence among American police forces.

According to The Washington Post, a statistic that has gone viral all over the internet says that “Every 28 hours, a black man, woman, or child is murdered by police or vigilante law enforcement.” Another statistic according to this resource says “Among those killed in 2012, 136 people (44 percent) had no weapon on them when they died” Ye Hee Lee, M. (2014, December 24). The viral claim that a black person is killed by police ‘every 28 hours’. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/24/the-viral.... These statistics are shocking and scary and I believe that this is the biggest social issue in America. Police officers who were once known as peacekeepers, are now instead known as law enforcers. With rising violence and crime rates, police officers have been practicing more aggressive methods, increasing police-related incidents. It is sad that it is just becoming a topic in media now, because with all we are seeing, we can only imagine what has gone on before media has begun exposing it.

Some of the more well-known cases of police brutality in recent years are Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown. The case of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012 was a big eye-opener to the media of the less-known side of law enforcement. This incident sparked lots of conversation nationwide. George Zimmerman, neighborhood watch volunteer, who shot the unarmed 17 year old, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter in 2013. --- 43 year old Eric Garner was killed by New York police on July 17, 2014 for selling illegal cigarettes. In the video recorded by Orta, you can hear Garner repeating “I can’t breathe.” Grand jury decided not to indict officer Pantaleo on December 3. --- Michael Brown was an unarmed 18 year old who was fatally shot by Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson in August of 2014. This began months of protest in the area, beginning in November when Wilson was not indicted. It did, however prompt an investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. The report found instances of extreme racism from the officers and targeting of black residents. This caused the Ferguson police chief and city manager to resign.  Sanburn, J. (2015, April 10). From Trayvon Martin to Walter Scott: Cases in the Spotlight. Retrieved from http://time.com/3815606/police-violence-timeline/

These cases go along with the article I chose, to show how corrupt the justice system is in this country. It isn’t fair or right that someone like George Zimmerman, Officer Wilson, or Officer Pantaleo get off with no charges, and someone like Ramsey Orta who was doing the right thing gets punished.

 
 
 
 

References

 

Sanburn, J., (2015, July 17). Eric Garner Witness Ramsey Orta Has Regrets One Year Later. Retrieved from http://time.com/ramsey-orta-eric-garner-video/

 

Ye Hee Lee, M. (2014, December 24). The viral claim that a black person is killed by police ‘every 28 hours’. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/24/the-viral...

 

Sanburn, J. (2015, April 10). From Trayvon Martin to Walter Scott: Cases in the Spotlight. Retrieved from http://time.com/3815606/police-violence-timeline/

 

Comments

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your article as I agree with you completely – police brutality, specifically aimed towards minorities, is a severe problem. I’m also glad that it has recently been gaining more coverage in the news, sparking discussion amongst viewers.
I would like to point out that all perpetrators (or the police) who have murdered the unarmed and potentially innocent victims Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown, were all white males. It is no surprise that middle-aged, upper/middle-class, white men are at the top of our social hierarchy. They are the ones with the most privilege.
My professor, S. Waurechen, defines privilege as “unearned assets that allow some individuals to navigate any and all social systems more easily than other people can.” The most important factors in defining privilege is race; however, gender, sexual orientation, social status, and religion are other contributing characteristics as well.
Having so much privilege can get to your head. They believe they can do potentially anything they want. In comparison to people with privilege, minorities behave very differently. They are also treated immensely differently as well. Perhaps this explains why the accused officers faced only minor consequences for their actions.
Had the roles been reversed and it was a black man murdering a white man, the outcome would have been so different. Treating people differently solely based on physical appearances such as skin color makes absolutely no sense. Hopefully with time, people will realize that privilege is unjust and we should all simply be treated equally.
Also, you mention police brutality towards women and children in your article as well. I’ve never really heard of these issues… perhaps that’s because colored women are viewed as even less than a man, so unfortunately get even less news coverage.

This (long) document goes in depth about all aspects of privilege, if you are interested in learning more: http://www.cpt.org/files/Undoing%20Racism%20-%20Understanding%20White%20...

I found your post to be very interesting and very important because it is a discussion that our society needs to keep talking about, and if we do not, then these issues will never get resolved. I liked the statistics you provided in your post like the one about how every 28 hours, a black person is murdered by police. Like you said, they are shocking and scary. But if we do not bring them up, then it renders the issues obsolete.
Through a gendered lens, there is a reason as to why there is so much police brutality and racial profiling. This might be able to further analyze the situation. Hegemonic masculinity is the promotion of male dominance. The man-box is an example as to what qualities men need to be to conform to the hegemonic masculinity, and they need to conform to as much of it as possible, if not more. Here is a link to an image to the man box: http://www.wgac.colostate.edu/Data/Sites/2/systemfiles/men-and-masculini.... In the image, it shows a list of qualities they need to be and if they do not conform to them, Outside the box shows insults used to push them in to the man box. Even though black men, according to Hegemonic Masculinity, are considered more athletic and strong than white men, it comes at a price. Because they are much stronger than white men, they can also appear as more violent and aggressive because they are not in control, another quality to conform to in the man-box. This is a horrible system, but unfortunately it still applies to police brutality and racial profiling. If black men are not violent enough, they risk getting themselves killed by the police. If they are too violent, then they risk getting killed in fights with other people, often in group fights with people of their own race and in their neighborhood.

We were drawn to your post because the subject of police brutality interested us and your opening lines drew us in to keep reading. It was interesting to find out that every 28 hours an African American person is killed by a police officer and that in 2012, 136 people were killed by police, in which 44% were not carrying weapons. We can connect your article to what we have been learning about white priveledge. In the case of Travon Martin the man who killed him was white, and after Martin's death was given no punishment for his act. We talked about this a lot in class how sometimes white people get away with acts that people of colour would be punished for. Your article was very good and interesting, we enjoyed reading it ! Maybe you would be interested in reading this article that we discussed in class on white priveledge. http://www.winnipeg.ca/clerks/boards/citizenequity/pdfs/white_privilege.pdf

Let me begin by complementing you on the focus and development of your article. Addressing the topic in a clear-cut manner and unraveling the thesis through statistics and evidence along with brief explanations of given proofs presents your essay in a coherent, academic perspective. I personally think, however, that adding a gender lens to the issue of racism and police brutality might take your analysis a step further. It is important to know that the context of black criminality in the US is that of policing masculinity, meaning that society often applies social pressure to its male members to conform to its expectations of hegemonic masculinity. As soon as a male member steps out of the “man-box” defined by hegemonic masculinity, policing masculinity relies on misogynist and homophobic slurs to demand conformity. This social pressure is applied by both men and women, but is at its worst in all-male friend groups. As the ideal man promoted by hegemonic masculinity is a white man (given that they are the most privileged), the “man-box” suggests that other men assert their masculinity through other masculinity tropes, seeing as the avenue of success is farther from them. This is why the idea of black masculinity is hyper sexualized and violent and this image of black masculinity and uncontrolled violence plays in the back of the minds of the police. For more on masculinity policing, or gender policing in general, this Wikipedia page offers a helpful and comprehensive outlook.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_policing

Your post encompasses your passionate ideas about the horrific reality that is the police brutality and racial profiling issue in the United States. The compelling evidence included exhibit the harsh reality of the situation and drive your argument. This post relates to the concept of “double consciousness”, which means that when people are of a visible minority group, they must juggle their identities between their legal rights and freedoms as human beings and citizens with society’s impression of their minority. They must adapt how they act based on how society perceives their minority group rather than themselves as individuals. With double consciousness comes the concept of Intersectionality is the socially constructed categories such as race, class and gender, that apply to a certain individual. These various labels overlap creating a unique position for this individual due to the benefits and consequences that come with various factors of identification. Black men are stereotyped to be excessively violent, aggressive, and dangerous. The victims of the acts of police brutality know they deserve to have due process and have the right to life however, the society they live in still has these racist ideas which prevent them from enjoying their natural rights. This article from the Baltimore Sun demonstrates a less severe, but emotionally painful example of double consciousness and intersectionality. Even though you know you deserve fair treatment, because of your visible identities creates your unique life experience which comes with its various challenges and the rest of society categorizes you based on them. http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1998-04-05/news/1998095013_1_black-susp...

The title of your article caught my attention actually because of the word racism, which I can obviously relate to the class I am taking, and also because of police brutality. The reason is that I spent a considerable part of my last semester talking about police officer in my English class and that had really interested me. We talked a lot about the rights of police officers as well as their right to bear arms and the fact that they can over use it. Police brutality is undoubtedly linked to that and I wanted to learn even more about this subject.
I already known that police brutality was an important issue in America, but I had not realize how those brutal acts were often against people that had visible minorities. I definitely agree with you when you say that statistics about the death of coloured individuals are "shocking and scary". It is very bad that only because of the colour of their skin, some people have more chance to face brutality by police officers. As you said, police officers should be seen as peacemaker as they were seen before. The fact that people cannot realize that those mean behaviours against minorities are not relevant and that those visible traits mean nothing really makes me angry. It is discouraging to learn that even when it comes to ensure peace, officers keep on categorizing people according to physical traits.
Your post really made me think about the concept of white privilege that we saw in my class about the myth of race and racism. This concept is about the fact that as a white skin person, we have access to privileges, rights or immunities, which we benefit only because of the colour of our skin. The fact that individuals with black skin get brutalized more than people with a white skin is a clear example of this concept. White people have the privilege to be treated better by police officers than those who have a darker skin and this is very unfair.
Finally, I really enjoyed to read your post, it really made me reflect on the fact that even when we talk about peace and the security of people, individuals with a white skin have access to privileges that people with a black skin do not have access to. This is a major issue and I think that it is a good and important thing to address this problem.
Thank you!

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