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Paper Topic:

police brutality against blacks

Police Brutality Against African Americans

To understand why there is such racism and police brutality regarding African Americans , first one must understand the origin of the Africans in the United States . The roots of the racism , thus , the ongoing cases of police brutality , it is first imperative to understand the beginnings . There were 20 million people kidnapped from Africa , by various countries , including the Dutch , French , and other Europeans Often , though , this wasn 't accomplished without the aid and , indeed the willingness of some of their own countrymen . For the wealthy Africans

br along the coast , this trade was a means of proving wealth . The trading of their countrymen pre-dated the slave trade with Europeans in the 15th century (Antrim , 2005

The slave trade to the United States is thought to have begun in the 1600 's . Earliest documentation of slavery in the United States predates our even becoming a country . A trade ship of Dutch traded a cargo of enslaved Africans for food in 1619 in Virginia . This , of course , was only the beginnings of slavery in the United States . Soon , there were slavers from the colonies that brought back slaves to the United States to Virginia , between 1727 and 1769 (Curtain and Herbert , 1973 , 1997 Prior to Great Britain banning slave trade , the Colonies had transported between 600 and 650 ,000 Africans to North America (Becker , 1999

The Quakers were the first group to actively attack slavery . In 1775 Quakers played a major role in the forming of the Pennsylvania Society for the Abolition of Slavery . This was the first anti-slavery movement in the United States , officially . The United States didn 't formally stop the importation of slaves until 1806 (Coombs , 1972 , chap 4

The Constitution didn 't originally mention slavery , but it did add articles that related to them . Article I1 , Section 2 allowed that a slave was considered 3 /5 a man . It is ironic , in light of the war for freedom from England , that neither the North or the South considered the insurrections of slaves as similar to their own war for feedom (Coombs 1972 , chap 4

The racism against blacks began long before the infamous race riots of the 1960 's . Many states passed laws disallowing black men from moving into their territories . Others banned them from holding office or serving on juries . Even after the Civil War , little was changed in the real status of African Americans . They had few rights , were not allowed to vote or hold office . Many restaurants and hotels refused to serve them . There were `black only ' entrances to buildings (Coombs , 1972 chap 4

Between 1900 and 1925 , there were many racial riots . States started segregating neighborhoods . Blacks were considered `equal but separate and laws had been passed previously to keep the status quo . Then 1925 the NAACP was formed to help regain the rights of blacks in America (Murry , 1926

As early as the 1800 's , Southern states began to enact the Jim Crow aws . These laws were to perpetuate segregation . They included separate seating on buses , separate water fountains and schools . They were particularly common in the South . These were enacted to counteract the 13th , 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution , initiated during and after Reconstruction after the Civil War (Columbia University Press 2003

The Civil Rights movement began in earnest in the 50 's and 60 's . The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was aimed to end discrimination , and in part is as follows

42 U .S .C . 2000a et seq (1964 , comprehensive legislation intended to end discrimination based on race , color , religion or national origin . It is often called the most important U .S . law on civil rights since Reconstruction (1865 - 77 (Answers .com , 2005

It 's interesting to note that in an attempt to kill the bill , it added women (Wikipedia , 2005

Nearly 100 years after the end of the Civil War , and slavery , the country was still in the throes of racism , at times direct , and other times overt . There were multitudes of hangings , the Ku-Klux-Klan developed , and blacks were still separate , even if they were free

The cases of brutality of the police are numerous . Below is a brief of just one sample

On the night of April 27 , 1962 , scores of policeman ransacked the Nation of Islam Mosque in Los Angeles and wounded seven unarmed Muslims , leaving William Rogers paralyzed and Ronald Stokes dead . To many white political leaders , the conflict substantiated their worst fears about the violent nature of the Nation of Islam . On the other hand , many black leaders dared to condemn the police for what they considered to be a racially motivated assault (Knight , 1994 In the last twenty years , police have adopted the `broken window philosophy . This philosophy , in brief , is one which allows for police to apply a zero tolerance policy , which , they say , prevents larger crimes . In Harcourt 's view , the broken-windows-zero-tolerance approach to policing causes harm , rather than the benefit it promises

Harms include : the subjection of thousands of people to the ordeal of the criminal justice system the consequent vast increase of complaints against the police the delegitimating impression of targeting minorities because aggressive misdemeanor arrests disproportionately affect minority communities the concomitant reinforcement of the stereotype of black criminality and , most important , delegating the authority to police to define what constitutes and dis (Jackall , 2003

So , are the police targeting minorities ? One place that seems to help bolster this idea are some of the reality police shows . For instance it is apparent that racial profiling does indeed take effect throughout the television shows seen . In shows like Cops , the officer is more often than not white , and the suspects are African American or Hispanic This would appear to influence the public into thinking that the majority of crimes are indeed conducted by minorities (Prosise , and Johnson , 2004

According to Massaquoi , for an article in Ebony magazine , it took an umimpeachable eyewitness- a video tape , to prove the case of the brutality of Rodney King (Massaquoi , 1991 ) King is one of the most famous recent cases of police brutality in the United States . In the infamous case , LA officers ganging up and beating King , He further summarizes that it might be a case of officers seeing it as `us ' against `them . He also states that officers perhaps think that police have a very negative perception of the world . Massaquoi , citing Alvin F Poussaint , M .D , associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School , says that it is perhaps also due to them viewing people as almost sub-human . One Chicago Police Superintendent , LeRoy Martin believes that the way to stop the brutality is to have better educated officers , requiring at least a two-year college degree . He feels that departments may be recruiting people from troubled pasts themselves

A Washington Post article cites still more cases of police brutality and unreasonable detainment . One is the case of a handcuffed prisoner in the back of a cruiser , that was shot 14 times (Washington , 1999 The article puts it very simply . Washington states when black men talk they don 't ask `if ' you 've been stopped , they ask `when (1999 ) The cases are often chilling

Below are some of the more recent cases

March , 1991 : Rodney King is beaten with 56 baton

strokes , is kicked in the head , torso , and groin , and is

stunned with a Taser gun by at least 4 white officers after

a high speed chase . The incident is captured on video . The

Christopher Commission report quotes an officer saying "[H]e

pissed us off , so I guess he needs an ambulance now

over his squad car radio after the beating . The State of

California acquits the four white officers

November , 1992 : Undercover African-American

officer Derwin Pannel is shot by three white police officers

in New York City . Pannel was making an arrest in plain

clothes but was thought to be assaulting someone

August , 1994 : Undercover officer Desmond Robinson

is shot five times by white off-duty officer Peter Del

Debbio in New York City . Robinson is African-American and is

in plain clothes at the time . Del Debbio said he thought

Robinson was involved in a crime since he was carrying a

gun

October , 1995 : Jonny Gammage , cousin of pro

football player Ray Seals , is killed by New Jersey police

officer John Vojtas during a "routine " traffic stop . Gammage

is ed out of his car , when a police officer subdues him

after suspecting the Jaguar Gammage is driving is stolen

(the Jaguar was Gammage 's . The officer crushes Gammage 's

trachea , killing him . Officer Vojtas is promoted to Sergeant

and is acquitted of murder

June , 1996 : African-American Aswan Watson is shot

18 times while sitting unarmed in a stolen car in Brooklyn

Watson is killed . Officers are acquitted of charges in 1997

July , 1996 : 26 year-old African-American Nathaniel

Levi Gaines , Jr , a Navy Gulf War veteran , is shot in the

back by a New York City police officer . He is unarmed

This same month , 29 year-old Anthony Baez , a man of Puerto

Rican descent , is put in a chokehold and strangled to death

by another New York City police officer after Baez allegedly

threw a football that hit a patrol car

April , 1997 : An African-American woman , Caroline

Sue Botticher , is shot and killed after police fire 22

rounds into her vehicle in West Charlotte , North Carolina

She had failed to stop at a police checkpoint . She is

unarmed

June , 1997 : geronimo ji Jaga

capitalization , aka Geronimo Pratt , is released from jail

after serving 27 years on a murder conviction that is later

overturned . New evidence is found that exonerates him . He is

an ex-Black Panther leader and was sentenced to life in

1972

August , 1997 : At least 4 officers are charged with

beating and sexually assaulting Haitian immigrant Abner

Louima in the Bronx of New York . Officer Justin Volpe is

charged with forcing a wooden stick into Louima 's rectum

December , 1997 : New York police officers shoot and

kill William J . Whitfield III , an African-American man , in a

supermarket . He is unarmed . Police say that they thought he

was reaching for a gun . Later it is determined that he was

reaching for his keys

December , 1998 : Tyisha Shenee Miller , a 19 year

old African-American woman , is killed by Riverside

California , police in a fusillade of 27 bullets as she sits

in a state of near unconsciousness in her stranded vehicle

She had had a seizure and the police were called to assist

her

February , 1999 : Immigrant Amadou Diallo is killed

in a hail of 41 bullets fired by police outside his Bronx

apartment . Diallo is unarmed and is reaching for his wallet

when the firing begins . Later , all four officers are

acquitted by the state of charges against them

March , 2000 : Unarmed security guard Patrick

Dorismond is shot to death by an undercover New York City

police officer . The officer , in plain clothes , approached

Dorismond , wanting to buy drugs

All of the above instances were found within one article (Thelon 2000

So , what is the solution ? Is there a solution ? Both the Constitution of the United and International Law are supposed to protect against this type of abuse of power , but it doesn 't appear to be working

Does the problem go past the police , to the courts ? According to Hitchens , of The Nation , the answer is yes . According to evidence accepted by the Supreme Court , a black male who murders a white is three times more likely to be given the death penalty than a white man who kills a white . A black man who kills a white is eleven times more likely to be killed . Now , the Supreme Court claims that it is "a discrepancy that appears to correlate with race " However , as the Justices went on to say , such "apparent disparities in sentencing are an inevitable part of our criminal justice system (1987

A report done by Human Rights Watch stated the following , based on a Boston investigation

Our review of IAD s revealed a disturbing pattern of allegations of violence toward citizens by a small number of officers . The failure to monitor and evaluate the performance of police officers - particularly those with established patterns of alleged misconduct - is a major deficiency in the management of the department and results in an unnecessarily dangerous situation .No police department and no community should tolerate a situation where officers with a long record of alleged misconduct , including some with histories of alleged physical abuse of citizens , remain on the street largely unidentified and unsupervised (1998

According to the Christopher Commission "There is a significant number of officers in the LAPD who repetitively use excessive force against the public and persistently ignore the written guidelines of the Department regarding force " The Los Angeles police failed to deal with these and even rewarded them with good evaluations and promotions . Former LAPD Assistant Chief Jesse Brewer testified "We know who the bad guys are Reputations become well known , especially to the sergeants and then of course to lieutenants and captains in the areas . But I don 't see anyone bring these people up (Human Rights Watch , 1998

Even if the police did a better job of policing themselves , which at this time appears unlikely , it wouldn 't solve the basic problem , which is racism . Statistically , there are more blacks in the prison system in the United States than there are whites . Is this because they are more often stopped and searched , or because they are doing more of the crimes in our country ? Perhaps it is a combination of both . Racism bars many from seeking well-paying jobs . This makes it more difficult for some families to support themselves , which may lead to an increase in crime . Other issues are that as a nation , we seem to ignore laws and amendments that have been in place for years regarding racism discrimination and unjust police activities

Internationally , the United Nations has had articles and regulations on the books since 1965 . This Article , titled International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in part , stated that In this Convention , the term "racial discrimination " shall mean any distinction , exclusion , restriction or preference based on race colour , descent , or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition , enjoyment or exercise , on an equal footing , of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political , economic , social , cultural or any other field of public life (Human Rights Watch , 1965

Forty years later , we are still struggling to do something that International Law has required all this time . The Catch-22 is that the more embittered the youth of today become with the system , the more embittered adults they will be in years to come . This applies to both sides of the racism issue

We , as a culture must learn to be tolerant . The entire United States is a melting pot of different peoples , yet few suffer the kind of discrimination that blacks suffer . In many areas , they are not expected to excel as whites are . Schools , to this day , in many areas , are mostly black or mostly white . People are trained from youth to stick with their `own kind ' by parents and often , society at large

Until these practices change , until we change the way we teach our children , until we change the way society looks at those that are in the minority , things are not going to change

Police brutality isn 't new . Media has just made it more commonly known . Perhaps , if there is any good that can come out of the cases of brutality that are rampant in the press , it will be that people , all people , will become outraged at the surreal activities of our society They will become outraged at man 's capability to be so cruel and indifferent to their fellow man . All men , black and white , must learn to live together in our society

Works Cited

.Antrim Zayde (2005 ) Contronting the Legacy of the African Slave Trade ' PBS Episode Guide . 12 Dec . 2005

Becker Eddie (1999 ) Chronology on the History of Slavery 1619 to 1789

12 Dec , 2005

Civil Rights Act of 1964 " Dictionary of Law . Merriam-Webster , 1996 Answers .com 13 Dec . 2005

"Civil Rights Act of 1964 " Wikipedia , The Free Encyclopedia .13 Dec 2005

p "Civil Rights Act of 1964 " The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy Third Edition . Houghton Mifflin Company , 2002 . Answers .com 13 Dec 2005 . HYPERLINK "http /www .answers .com /civil-rights-act-of-1964 http /www .answers .com /civil-rights-act-of-1964

Coombs , Norman (1972 ) All Men Are Created Equal The Immigrant Heritage of America ' Chapter 4 .12 Dec . 2005

p Curtin , Philip D . and Herbert S . Klein , Records of Slave Ship Movement Between Africa and the Americas , 1817-1843 [machine-readable data ] . 2nd DPLS ed , 1973 , 1997 . Madison , WI Data and Program Library Service [distributor] (12 December 2005

Hitchens , Christopher "Minority Report " The Nation 29 Aug . 1987 : 150 Questia , 13 Dec . 2005

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination ' 1965 Human Rights Watch 12 Dec . 2005 HYPERLINK "http /www .hrw .org /reports98 /police /uspo150 .htm http /www .hrw .org /reports98 /police /uspo150 .htm

Jackall , Robert "What Kind of " Criminal Justice Ethics 22 .2 (2003 , Questia , 13 Dec . 2005 br

"Jim Crow Laws " The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia , Sixth Edition Columbia University Press , 2003 . Answers .com 13 Dec . 2005 HYPERLINK "http /www .answers .com /jim-crow-law http /www .answers .com /jim-crow-law

Knight , Frederick "Justifiable Homicide , Police Brutality or Governmental Repression ? the 1962 Los Angeles Police Shooting of Seven Members of the Nation of Islam " The Journal of Negro History 79 .2 (1994 , Questia , 13 Dec . 2005 br

Murry , Daniel (1926 ) African American Perspectives ' Library of Congress

12 Dec . 2005

Prosise , Theodore and Ann Johnson "Law Enforcement and Crime on Cops and World 's Wildest Police Videos : Anecdotal Form and the Justification of Racial Profiling " Western Journal of Communication 68 .1 (2004 Questia , 13 Dec . 2005 . Shielded From Justice ' Human Rights Watch 1998 . 12 Dec . 2005 HYPERLINK "http /www .hrw .org /reports98 /police /uspo26 .htm http /www .hrw .org /reports98 /police /uspo26 .htm

Thelen , Andrew . Looking Back ' July 31 , 2000 13 Dec . 2005 HYPERLINK "http /www .hardedge .net /classic /2000_07_01_archive .html http /www .hardedge .net /classic /2000_07_01_archive .html

Washington , Adrienne T "For Black People , an Everyday Nightmare " The Washington Times 2 Apr . 1999 : 2 , Questia , 13 Dec . 2005 p...

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