Are Police Targeting Black Americans?

by hsoppit on October 4, 2014 - 10:54am

The article “Michael Brown Shooting: Why Black Americans Believe They're Targeted by Police” by Mark Gollum on CBC News from august 13, 2014 discusses how black Americans perceive themselves as being targeted by the police and why that would be the case (Gollum, 2014, para 2). The recent killing of unarmed teenager, Michael brown, by a Caucasian police officer has caused a reaction of outrage across the United States, especially in predominantly black communities. A professor expressed that similar cases happen so often that it is hard to tell if there has been much progress in the issue of racism within the justice system. Police forces have attempted to hire a larger number of minority officers as a way to solve the issue but it is difficult to determine whether this has been successful (Gollum, 2014, para 7-9). It is suspected that one of the reasons this is a problem is because of the violent stereotypes that correspond to black Americans. Caucasians claim to be treated justly and respectfully by police while African Americans claim the opposite. It is said that police officers are trained to treat people based on their conduct and it is possible that African Americans are less cooperative in police interactions due to their preconceived distrust of police officers (Gollum, 2014, para 15-18). Numerous police officers are doing the best they can but are placed in communities that have high levels of crime where they are expected to be more forceful in their methods. The combination of the suspicious attitudes of African Americans and the approaches of police are believed to be causing the impression of racism within the police force, putting both parties at fault.

This article gave me the impression that it was discretely trying to refute the likelihood that racism may be a problem within the police force. The author mentioned that it was a possibility, but concentrated more on alternate options like the feasibility that black Americans react more aggressively than Caucasians while interacting with police causing officers to react accordingly as they were trained to do. I disagree with the point that black Americans share as much blame as police. I believe that in claiming African Americans to be just as much to blame as police for the way they are treated promotes a denial that racism is a problem. Considering the number of incidents where black Americans and Canadians have been unnecessarily targeted and treated brutally by the police makes me think that you cannot refute racism. I think that if anything there are many explanations to be taken into consideration. I agree that the ones the author brought up may contribute but the issue of racism is the main problem and should not be belittled. This article helped me learn how to recognize when an article or news broadcast is trying to minimalize the gravity of racism within society. A problem that I found the article to have was its choice of wording. For example the word “race” was used as a way to classify people based on their skin colour which demonstrates an incorrect use of this term seeing as race is not real, and merely a socially constructed concept. They would have been better off using “people of colour” to express their point appropriately. They also used terms like African American, black American, and minority interchangeably to refer to Americans of colour. I found this misleading for the reason that these all mean different things. African Americans are Americans that originate from Africa, black Americans refer to any Americans of colour which does not limit itself to those originating from Africa and minority refers to any group that is not of the majority group which includes Latin Americans, Asian Americans and many others. This causes me to question who exactly they are referring to throughout the article. A strong point for the article was that it had facts about previous murder cases of black Americans by police officers and many ideas from university professors with degrees relating to the issue of racism. These individuals are liable sources of information due to their positions of authority in this field and cause me to trust the material they are conveying.

Gollum, Mark. (2014, august 11). Michael Brown Shooting: Why Black Americans Believe They're Targeted by Police. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/michael-brown-shooting-why-blacks-in-the-u-s-believe-they-re-targeted-by-police-1.2734537

Comments

This topic has interested my for a while, as it is a serious issue, in my opinion. I think the sh*t has hit the fan, and the American law enforcement is finally getting called out for the way they have mistreated the black community. The subject is without a doubt an issue of racism and I personally agree with the response to this article. You bring out great points in terms of racism and how the author of the article is blaming the victim for the law enforcement's mistreatment. I have seen many videos depicting officers taking unfair action (shooting, tackling, abusing, killing) towards black Americans, which leaves me thinking it is based on racist opinions. So now I wonder, will the events taking place in Ferguson help reduce racism in our justice system?

This is a great article with precise and concise arguments. There was a good exlanation of the issue and you treated the opinion of the auhtor with respect, even though you were not agree with him. Moreover, it was fair to accord him some credits on his argument about the reason of police brutality. It allows people to see the two sides of the subject, to think more deeply about the issue, and then, they will be able to make their own opinion. It was a good point that you outlined when you were saying that the article was almost trying to ignore the issue of racism. When the author mentioned that police officers were more likely to act brutaly towards people of colour because of their "supposedly" violent behavior, he was making racial profiling. Base our judgments on certain prejudices is itself a form of racism. Furthermore, there are too much similar cases of police brutality against minorities to deny that racism is still occuring in our society. The article of Chad Dion Lassiter reinforces what you are saying and even add some facts about this issue. It mentions that if minorities tend to act more violently it might be due to fact that they be afraid of police officers, considering all of the events involving a white police man and a black or latino man. They express anxiety.
http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20140910_Black_or_Latino__and_male_...

This is a huge issue affecting our society. You have a seriously good article. All your points are justified. This had been an issue effecting african amerIcans for the longest time police offers use their power for bad and physically and mentally abusing them. This is an unfair action where they can't defend themselves because the police force has too much power to do as they wish. Your article is very explained and filled with content justifying these issues.

I thought the post was vary interesting and I can’t see why his this is such a huge problem. I can also see how this relates to hegemonic masculinity. Not only are men forced inside the “man box” but it is especially hard for those of other colors. If you are white than you are considered the top of the food chain (because that’s how racism works) while others are not. Power and violence are just some of the ways men prove masculinity and we can see this through the article. On average there 63% of the population is African American, 86% are pulled over, 92% of searches and 93% of all arrests. Clearly there is something wrong here. A great explanation of this is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUdHIatS36A.

Hey, thank you for sharing this article, I agree with a lot of your points. Their wording is politically incorrect at times and it did seem to me like they were trying to blame the issues more on the actions of African Americans then racism. Racism is alive and is deeply embedded in the police force. What the article fails to touch upon is how that racism affects the actions and demeanors of racist police offers. They are usually rude, aggressive, mean, or vindictive because of their bigotry. When a police officer kills a man by accident in cold blood or in the line of duty they are rarely held accountable for their actions. Maybe a suspension or desk duty for a while but hardly ever any jail time. How do you then expect African Americans to act, knowing that a policemen could blow him away with no consequences and that their color was enough for them to do so? I agree that our society needs to recognize that racism still exist and is strong in the police force before we can try and find ways to resolve this problem. Unfortunately we are a long ways away from this happening anytime soon. Here are some links about other incidents like Michael Brown and some statistics about police dealings with African Americans.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/22/ferguson-black-america_n_569436...
http://www.nbcnews.com/news/investigations/feds-probe-fatal-police-shoot...
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/24/1324132/-How-Often-are-Unarmed-...

I noticed this problem before reading your post, and I found it is very interesting; because in terms of this issue, I have a different opinion than you. You concluded that this is an issue of racism which is reasonable. However I think it is just a vicious circle which is induced by our wrong public model. This issue is similar to the feminism. Through all the Hollywood films, black men always represent as killer, members of the mafia, and other negative roles. For example, the film Do the Right Thing represents African Americans with a negative point of view, which is ironic since the director is also an African American. . So, with this negative public model, the black Americans would be not only targeted by police, but also by all Americans. Other reason is that the black Americans know that they are targeted by the police and this mere fact may cause them to overact to certain situations which may lead to confrontations with the police and eventually criminal charges.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/sunday-review/race-and-police-shooting...

I noticed this problem before reading your post, and I found it is very interesting; because in terms of this issue, I have a different opinion than you. You concluded that this is an issue of racism which is reasonable. However I think it is just a vicious circle which is induced by our wrong public model. This issue is similar to the feminism. Through all the Hollywood films, black men always represent as killer, members of the mafia, and other negative roles. For example, the film Do the Right Thing represents African Americans with a negative point of view, which is ironic since the director is also an African American. . So, with this negative public model, the black Americans would be not only targeted by police, but also by all Americans. Other reason is that the black Americans know that they are targeted by the police and this mere fact may cause them to overact to certain situations which may lead to confrontations with the police and eventually criminal charges.
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/31/sunday-review/race-and-police-shooting...

The title of this post caught my attention immediately. I strongly believe this is a racism issue that needs more attention. It is only now gaining popularity seeing as it has happened several times over the last month. The last one being John Crawford III, a father of two of was shot and killed by police in a Ohio walmart. Although i agree this is a racism issue i also believe it is related to hegemonic masculinity. As a young man growing up you are forced into something which is called the "Man-Box". If you are a white strong athletic male you are automatically considered to be at the top of the food chain. If you are a black American you are automatically placed at the bottom, until you can prove yourself to be different than "the others". Here is a link to a couple facts about colored people and the criminal justice in the United States of America.

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2012/03/13/11351/the-to...

I have given a lot of thought about this subject prior to reading this article and found you’ve made some valid points. Coming from a family where my mother, father, grandfather and step mother are all police officers, I tend to be on the fence about this subject. I would never go as far as denying racism as a factor in the way police have been acting as of late, but I do have some sympathy towards the job of a police officer. Officers of the law are expected to “serve and protect” every single person of society. This is a huge burden for the police force because they have to be trained in the art of predicting an issue that may lead to safety concerns. It is impossible to protect by showing up after a crime has been committed. Now I do not agree with all of the tactics that are used by police to insure security (Stop and Search, for example) as some are huge attacks on personal privacy. For example, some police officers may be trained to keep an eye out for a social outcast, or more specifically a male clearly rejected from the “Man Box” to do something erratic and potentially dangerous. The potential of said individual acting out is incredibly low, but if he does, the police are supposed to be ready. To relate back to your article, I do believe the officer who shot the young man in Ferguson was absolutely in the wrong and should be revoked his badge and sent to jail should he be declared guilty by court of law, but I don’t think all police officers are racist, but rather take it upon themselves to racial profile, and sometimes even gender profile, to get their job done. Prevention is the best way to avoid violence and crime, but unfortunately, it is next to impossible to predict something terrible happening, so any way to deduce a potential threat is important in the line of police work, although not always morally sound and is sometimes taken to extremes, as it was in the case of the town of Ferguson. I’ll end this comment by saying that blaming the entirety of police officers is wrong, as there are always individuals in every job and position who may be mentally unstable and tarnish the image of, in this case, those who are risking their lives every day to protect each and every one of us.

Man Box Video: http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men?language=en

The Michael Brown issue has raised a lot of controversy in America. You’re post gives a great summary of the issue and raise a lot of good points. I’m a Criminal Justice Major and we’re taught about criminal stereotypes, police attitudes, and police behavior, among the least. I am 100% on board with the racism topic. There are a number of cases that go unheard of regarding minorities being killed by police officers, both on and off of duty. I do believe that there is a War on Race. When you look at the number or African American and Hispanic males in the prison, it is relatively higher than that of White Americans. Racism is all around us. The question is how do we fix it? If it’s even able to be fixed.
I think another issue going on with police officers is Abuse of Power. Aside from shootings there a number of police brutality and excessive force cases being filed daily. Can this be based on race as well? Yes. But I think the issue lies within the police department, the criminal justice system itself. I think we need to start looking at who we hire, provide better training, change our way of thinking, give harsher punishments for officers that “go too far,” and most importantly protect our citizens. And yes, the media is the number one source of information. Their perception is often times the first we receive, and that shapes our perception to either support or oppose. We need to figure out a way to change people’s mindsets. It isn’t going to happen in a month, or even ten years, but we need to make a shift in society that views all people as One.

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