Police Brutality and Racial Profiling

Julia Kim

Two men shown holding up a banner showing deaths by police force

The police are the people who protect us, the people we feel the safest with. Right? Well, it’s a yes and no, in my opinion. Over the years, the police have been abusing their power and instilling fear and terror in citizens rather than feelings of safety and relief. All of these things are parts of what is called police brutality. Police brutality is the unnecessary force used by police on civilians including assault, abuse of weapons, and even murder.

Though this unnecessary force can be used on anyone, police brutality is more commonly used against people of color. In 2015 alone, police killed around 104 unarmed black men, twice the number of white men. Out of the 104 cases, only 13 case offenders were tried and charged.

An example of police brutality is the brutalization of a pregnant black woman, Charlena Cooks in 2015. The woman was charged unlawfully, after Cooks was caught in an argument with a white parent while dropping her child off at school. When police asked Cooks to identify herself she denied, which is allowed in certain states. A little while after denying to identify herself, Cooks was wrestled to the ground even after alerting the authorities she was pregnant. ACLU police say that she was charged with “resisting arrest,” but the charge was later dropped. This is just one instance of police brutality and racial profiling.

There are other instances of police brutality against other genders and races. In 2014, a 13- year- old Latino boy, Andy Lopez, was shot while walking through a vacant lot. A sheriff’s deputy mistook Lopez’s air soft gun for an automatic weapon, and shot Lopez to death. The deputy claimed that he fired because he feared for his life, for his partners’ lives, and for the community.  The officer was not charged.

Though these cases spurred protests and political debate, police brutality and racial profiling has not declined since.

Black lives matter activists being sprayed with tear gas in Phoenix

In 2017, the United States police force revealed 1,129 individuals have been killed in the span of just one year.

This just shows how violent someone in the police can be, and how they could over abuse their position. The fact that police brutality even has a name for it shows that there have been enough cases and enough events for it to be defined and classified as something. Police brutality shouldn’t be happening, it shouldn’t continue. In the black community, kids are taught at a very young age what they should do when a police officer approaches them. Certain races, even what sexuality one identifies with can make and individual more susceptible to encounters with the police thus opening the door for police brutality. Historically, police brutality occurs during protests and marches, not because the police officer is mad or upset, nor because he enjoys it, but instead as a tactic for safety or to control the crowds– pepper spray and tear gas are used to disperse groups that the police deem threatening, even when they may not be. To use force, or threaten force, during peaceful protests acts to “normalize” this sort of policing.

There should be changes happening, and a lot. For instance, policemen and women should be properly trained and taught alternative, positive intervention protocols. Most police brutality cases involve use of weapons including shooting their guns, tasers, and their plain fists, as first mode of intervention, rather than a last resort.

Additionally, all police brutality cases should be tried equally and perpetrators should be charged depending on the severity of the case and police officers should be tried as citizens, not as individuals above the law.  In order to decrease police brutality and fix police departments across this nation, proper education on different scenarios, races, and ethnicities should be given.  There should also be a wider diversity on a police force, rather than one race dominating the whole task force.  Some have suggested that police officers  who don’t have certain degrees, and pass certain tests both mental and physical, should be deemed unfit to fill their positions.

If these changes occurred, a lot of would change, less people would be going to prison, getting hurt, and even getting killed. Police brutality should be brought to an end, so should racial profiling. No one else should be getting hurt or murdered for silly reasons or bias.