A police car pulls up to a gas station and two white officers emerge from the vehicle. The black man standing in front of the gas station slowly places his hands folded behind his head and turns to face the gas station’s brick wall. The officers walk into the gas station. Situations like these occur every day. Minorities now take safety precautions to avoid conflict with police officers. These precautions are fueled by many things. Racism and fear are the two big topics when speaking on the treatment of minorities amongst law officials. The most prominent reason why specific ethnicities are cautious around officers, is caused by the span of modern day police misconduct. With the existence of social media, issues quickly become a theatre premier to the rest of the world. Images and videos of police brutality have flooded platforms such as Twitter. Everybody formulates their own opinions and automatically posts them. This causes a fragmentation of the truth. People then fear, not because of potential death, but due to uncertainty. Many questions surface. Amongst the plethora of questions are what has happened, who’s fault is it, and how can it be solved?
If you are somebody who does not watch the news very often, chances are that you know about police brutality, but you are unsure about what specifically has gone on. Twitter and the media that young people mostly spend their time viewing, fail to properly cover what is happening in the world. Twitter only showed one side of what has occurred in the last few years regarding police brutality. Thousands of people got behind the black lives matter movement from 30 second video clips on social media. Underneath these clips are often emotionally charged opinions, jokes, and antagonizing individuals hiding behind fake profiles. Social media is not a credible place to formulate an opinion. Before anyone should display how they feel about police brutality, first they should understand what can cause it and where it commonly stems from. There are many different races and genders that are victims to police misconduct whether it be good it bad. African Americans and police brutality go hand and hand nowadays. It is horrible that statement is true. The stereotype of police killings usually pertains to black people being killed. In some instances, criminals deserve what misconduct is coming at them. The issue is that there are many cases that leave questions and uncertainty about who is to blame. When looking deeper, one can argue that everybody is to blame. Many areas of the United States are classified as places that practice institutionalized racism. As said in an article about blue on black violence, “There are two sets of reasons why racial segregation renders African-Americans vulnerable to repeated police interactions. The first relates to policing in black communities. Historically, the police have perceived poor, racially segregated black communities as “war zones” that require ongoing police presence,” (Carbado). It is not the communities fault that police interactions are frequent. There is a label on ghettos and low income neighborhoods that cause a perceived image of the people living in those areas. The police see these people and act on what they know goes on in these places. Drugs, gangs, and violence all stem from these places because these areas, “lack substantive employment and educational opportunities” (Carbado). African Americans often become a product of their environment. It is much easier to sell weed around the neighborhood on a flexible schedule, than work a nine to five that eventually becomes frustrating. Black people become more exposed to police situations because of their environment. One may claim, “Why don’t they just attempt to leave the ghetto?”. If it was that easy, people would do it. When a person from the ghetto removes themselves from it, they tend to move to a more suburban area of the country. This comes with its own set of problems. “For instance, an African-American in Pacific Palisades at 9 p.m. is presumptively “out of place” and therefore presumptively suspicious because of the racial geography of Los Angeles County; there are relatively few black people who live in Pacific Palisades,” (Carbado). There are not many choices for people dealing with the unfair treatment of police officers. It sadly adds up too well for police officers and therefore, they act according to their gut feelings. It is known that minorities often involve themselves with gangs and illegal behavior. The stereotypes follows them wherever they go. When these attributes come into effect, black people are often confronted by the police no matter the setting. What happens after that, is what becomes questionable.
There are a countless number of police and African American confrontations. This causes several divisions between people based on how they perceive the video evidence commonly shown after a confrontation. There is always a group of people who demand the indictment of officers. Their opinions are often emotionally charged to the highest capacity. The issue is that many of the victims of these police shootings are unarmed. Therefore, people ask for justice in the way they see fit, because the victims could not defend themselves. There are situations that happen on both sides of the fence. Sometimes, the victim is right and the officers are charged. Other times, the victim is simply wrong for resisting arrest and even sometimes having a form of weaponry on them. There are a couple cases that involve fake guns on individuals who have been shot by police officers. Examples of the variation of cases can be seen on several official news websites and police databases. In one specific case involving a man named Samuel Dubose, an officer had asked him for his license and Dubose refused. He was being pulled over for a traffic stop. After refusing to step out of the vehicle and give a license, the officer opened fire on Dubose, killing him. The officer is currently charged with murder and has been released after posting 10% of a million-dollar bail. “The county prosecutor called the shooting a “senseless act.” Tensing is scheduled to face a jury starting Oct. 24,” (Funke). This is one example that a police officer was indicted for his ruthless killing. On the other side of the spectrum, resides a case involving a 19-year-old African American male named Christian Taylor, who had been reported for burglary in a car dealership. A few officers showed up at the scene and one fatally shot Taylor. Security footage shows that Taylor was destroying vehicles inside the dealership. The officer who shot him would be fired, but no charges were pressed against him. Another case speaks on a man named Markus Clark who was robbing a gas station when two officers arrived while Clark was wrestling a clerk from the station. Clark succumbed to his injuries after being taken to the hospital. No charges were brought upon those officers. There are so many different cases in which minorities have ended up dead at the hands of police officers. Many officers nowadays carry cameras on them, which provides video evidence of what goes on during confrontations. Many cases have resulted in failure to indict officers. These cases cause an uproar in many communities. Riots burst within cities causing chaos. Many individuals tend to take matters into their own hands which leads to more death and murder amongst both parties. The Rodney King Riots and Ferguson Riots were two staples in American history. From these riots, emerged better conditions. Los Angeles has reported that, “crime has gone down throughout the city and race relations have significantly improved,” (Medina). Riots have created a better setting for minorities and police relations. Fingers must not be pointed when it comes to police brutality, because there are faults on both sides of the field. What is deeply rooted, is the lack of trust within the police force which causes these misunderstandings repeatedly. Police feel alone and often must resort to their own judgement due to the lack of communication from citizens within ethnic communities. This is the problem that must be solved.
There are several issues that can contribute to the betterment of relationships between police officers and the minority communities. These issues effect everybody who lives within The United States. President Barack Obama says in a speech given after the verdict to the Eric Garner trial that “It is incumbent about all of us as Americans – regardless of race, region, faith – that we recognize this is an American problem and not just a black problem, or a brown problem, or a native American problem, this is an American problem,” (TV). America is in dire need for people to care about its issues. Regardless of differences in gender, color, and religion, everybody should be concerned about police misconduct. Unfair treatment under the law is a problem that has failed to go away and it effects every person in the United States. The people must make attempts to repair their fractured trust in the police. Without the police, how will anybody be safe? The world needs law enforcement to run correctly. It also needs a law enforcement that the citizens can trust. Criminals could possibly run rampant if the police are not trusted. In order to fix this issue, people must report police misconduct and make it unacceptable for the police to treat different people unfairly. There is technology out there that makes it easier to report the police, “After winning several lawsuits, the labs have helped force city police to release information on their use of cell phone tracking devices and has created an interactive primer on local police surveillance practices,” (Purdom). With pushes for devices such as this one, the people will begin to feel more in power. With better confidence in the ability to counteract police misconduct, trust in the police will return to the citizens. The police will be held accountable for their actions. The people must also cease the finger pointing. Whether the police are wrong, or the people are wrong, an opinion on twitter will not change the issues at hand. Participation in state government and city council business will change laws for people who demand change in today’s world. Going out there and actively engaging in city council events and voting will change what is going on in the communities. Lack of political presence and decisions causes less pressure on police for their actions as said in the Georgetown Law Journal, “The bottom line is that the more economically and politically powerless a community, the greater that community’s vulnerability to law enforcement contact and thus the possibility of excessive force by the police” (Carbado). Minorities are a rarity amongst government jobs. This problem can be solved through better education and promotion of jobs that can change the community. It starts from within. The ethnic communities are institutionalized and the white neighborhoods are thriving. The gap between them will continue to increase if nothing is done. The relationship between the police and the people must be mended with efforts from both sides.
The bystander effect is in full motion when speaking on topics such as police brutality. It directly effects a fraction of minorities. The percentage of minorities that are effects is nothing compared to how many people live in America. This is the bystander effect because nobody feels like they can do anything about what is going on. The video evidence is extremely convincing. With countless videos showing blue on black crime, people are forced to create their own opinions on what is going on in the world. The Black Lives matter movement was birthed through a social media hashtag, but it takes more than tweets. It involves education of what is going on in the communities. Higher class communities must understand that ghetto communities are not ghetto by choice, but because that is the way that it has been working for years. It is time for a change. It is not the police’s fault or the people’s fault. The blame belongs to everybody who lives in America. Like Obama said, it is an American problem. The way it is solved is through active participation in communities and reporting police misconduct right when it is seen. Holding everybody more accountable will lead to a more disciplined community. Police brutality can be seen from the comfort of your own home with a few key taps. It is a real issue effecting everybody and actions must be taken in order to rid American of one of its most infamous problems.
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