This quote, “Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon. Which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals,” by Martin Luther King Jr. exemplifies that brutality is not always the right path to take. In this case one of the biggest issues in America has always been police brutality. Over the years police brutality has slowly been increasing across the United States and it has driven a wedge between the trust of the communities throughout the nation.
Police brutality has always been an issue in the past. Though as the years have progressed it has not dwindled as expected but has continued to progress in rapid numbers. “….at least 293 people had been killed by American police. By the end of the year, the number totaled 1,114…By April 15, 2015 the number increased to 350…By the end of the year… 1,222 people killed by American police….” (Shaun King, 2018). The numbers have been steadily increasing throughout the years and nothing has seemed to put a stop to this. As seen in the quote above, one can tell that the numbers of unarmed shootings and killing among police officers and civilians is extremely high. The reasons for this are unknown, whether it is fear, racism, people having unidentified objects obstructing their view or officers having other motives remains unknown. However, even though police brutality has been around for an extremely long time, the nation started to pay closer attention and became rattled when Trayvon Martin was shot while walking down the street unarmed.
This sparked anger throughout the nation, and soon enough entire police departments came under fire. Communities all over the country came together in protest of the brutality shown towards Martin and it soon became the biggest news story during that time. Ever since that incident, the trust between the people and law enforcement became very tense. While brute force was shown throughout the country it was mostly seen towards people of color or minorities. Unarmed shootings was statistically proven to be higher in unarmed black men and young boys than in white men and young boys as seen in this quote: “Black men and boys face the highest risk of being killed by police --- at a rate of 96 out of 100,000 deaths…white men and boys face a lower rate of 39 per 100,000 deaths despite being a bigger portion of the U.S. population” (Laura Santhanam, 2019). Due to past events in America’s long history, knowing that people of color were more prone to get killed by police officers made it difficult for people to sit on their hands and continue to let this happen. While the violence continued towards minorities, perceptions of police changed and became damaged. Aside from law enforcement perceptions changing, the perception of people of color changed as well and they were stereotyped as being violent and being criminals. Police in a lot of communities were now viewed as the enemy and people became scared of the men and woman in blue, for they did not want to become another statistic.
Demographics play a significant role in the treatment of civilians.Larger cities or cities with a larger population are more susceptible to having police related violence. According to an organization that maps out police violence, the top five cities which have more murders of unarmed civilians are: New York, New York, Phoenix, Arizona, Los Angeles, California, Jacksonville, Florida, and Chicago, Illinois. This can possibly be due to the fact that the hgher the population the higher the minority count. These cities with a high rate of unarmed killings also happen to have communities that are predominantly black or of color. There has been a pattern that these communities have been targeted more frequently than communities full of white people. ”’Blacks and whites live in two very different worlds with two very different worldviews on a variety of issues. One of those areas is police,’ Marin said in 2016” (Laura Santhanem, 2019). While bruutality has happened in both ends, white communities cannot compare with how much colored communities have suffered due to the increase of these violent outbursts. Communities from all over are on edge and have demanded that the situattion start to change.
Movements have rocked the nation and fundamentally shaken the core foundation on which America was built on. After the killings of: Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, John Crawford, and Mike Brown just to name a few, protests and organizations started to form and grow rapidly. Soon organizations were known worldwide, one of the most prevelant movements to date is Black Lives Matter (BLM). This organization focuses on bringing attention and putting an end to police violence against african americans. Since brutality is extremely more common against colored people, it also happens to be the most popular movement. People of different types of nationalities and backgrounds have supported the actions taken by the organization and have allied with the communities that have been stricken by all the cruelty from the people who were sworn to protect them. “Groups associated with Black Lives Matter have advocated for a wide variety of policy changes—including body cameras, independent special prosecutors, and greater transparency in policing….” (Cambridge University, 2018). Precautions have been requested by the people nationwide, not only for the safety of their loved ones, but for the safety of officers as well. By adding body cams to every single officer uniform the investigations would be more reliable now that solid evidence can be provided. This safeguards the rights of unarmed civilians when they are stopped.
The movements do not only include organizations, but they also include protests. One of the most controversial protests that have made headlines is taking a knee during the national anthem. Many people have done this in solidarity towards the lives lost and the violence surrounding colored communities. Colin Kaepernick, an NFL player and activist, was one of the first to kneel and soon enough others followed suit. People who knelt were deemed disrespectful, but this protest was started to bring attention to the black lives being lost in the hands of law enforcement, which ultmatley worked because it was not long before adults and kids kneeled in camaraderie with Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement. Movements such as this have brought communities from different backgrounds and different ethnicities togther from all over the world.
Finding an end to police brutality is a goal for these crusades. As Albert Einstein once said, “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” The spike in police brutality is at an all time high and the trust is broken with the people.This nation is waging a war between law enforcement and its everyday public, but movements have begun to form in retaliation of the harm caused.
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- Police Shootings on African Americans.” Psychology Benefits Society, 30 Nov. 2016, psychologybenefits.org/2016/07/14/racial-trauma-police-shootings-on-african-americans/.
- King, Shaun, et al. “Data Shows Police Brutality in America Is Getting Worse - 2018 Could
- Be the Most Deadly in Years.” The Appeal, theappeal.org/data-shows-police-brutality-in-america-is-getting-worse-2018-could-be-the-most-deadly-in-years-90c9fa503580/.
- Santhanam, Laura. “After Ferguson, Black Men Still Face the Highest Risk of Being Killed
- by Police.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 9 Aug. 2019, www.pbs.org/newshour/health/after-ferguson-black-men-and-boys-still-face-the-highest-risk-of-being-killed-by-police.
- “Police Accountability Tool.” Mapping Police Violence, mappingpoliceviolence.org/cities.
- Vanessa Williamson, Kris-Stella Trump, and Katherine Levine Einstein. “Black Lives
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