Police Brutality – This term was used for the first time in an American press station in 1872. 150 years later this term is used in many new stations on topics like this one. For some it has become a controversial topic, for others, it’s something that isn’t thought a lot about. Police brutality has been growing and decreasing throughout the last 150 years. Many forms of entertainment are based on this issue. It is important to know what this term means and how it has become a part of our society today.
Police brutality is a form of abuse or misconduct that police officers use against the public. They use extreme force to either detain, calm down a suspect or if they feel that they are in danger. It is illegal to do but law enforcement officers use it under the color of law. The color of law is when an authoritative figure such as a police officer, prison guard, or any other law enforcement official performs an unlawful/abusive act that is out/above their authority.
Another meaning it can have is taking away the rights of a person because you are a law enforcement officer.
The term police brutality” has been in our society for the last 150 years. Law enforcement officials, police officers to be exact would use extreme forces against those who would go on strike, those they were arrested, etc. The time when this term started to be used was in the 1870s. This was the time where segregation was happening.
The United States had just gotten out of slavery and they were trying to be one as a nation. These documents, photos, and articles that show what kind of force they used on the public. When strikes were being made by the public and sometimes when the public wasn’t causing any trouble they would use this force. They would use fire hoses, police dogs, whips, bats and so forth. There was a lot of force being used against POC (People of Color) at the time because of the racial hatred and bigotry going on at the time. In Birmingham, there was a peaceful protest in 1963. The peaceful protest was only because they wanted to be treated the same as other Americans. In an article, I found called ‘Birmingham erupted into chaos in 1963 as the battle for civil rights exploded in South’ by Corky Siemasko, she had several photos that were taken back then showing the type of abuse the protestor was put through. You would be able to see several officers using a fire hose against a few protestors. Some are sitting on the ground being sprayed head to toe. You can see a man standing there, while an officer is standing next to him and his dog is about to bite the man standing there. In the article, she talked about how this event was broadcasted across the nation and the Birmingham leaders in business realized they were having a public relations issue. This was the nations first look at police brutality.
Today, there have been many incidents where the youth, adults and the general public have died at the hands of police brutality. Michael Brown was an 18-year old that was killed by a police officer. In an article called ‘What we know about Michael Brown’s shooting’ by Eliott C. McLaughlin, he talked about the details of what happened. Brown was visiting the area because his grandmother lived there. He was walking with a friend and crossed the street. An officer called to him and told them to get out of the road and Brown explained they were about to get to their destination. The officer pulled up behind them and opened the door which hit Brown and closed back on the officer. According to this article, the officer put his arms around Brown’s neck and later let go. Brown was shot once, he took off running, turned back with his hands up and the officer then shot him another 6 times before he dropped to the ground dead. This happened in August 2014. Once this event happened, riots were happening in Ferguson for two weeks. It was broadcasting on the news and it was all over social media. In the article, he stated how there were some peaceful protestors but there were attacks on police. Vandalism, firing, looting, etc. After this incident, police brutality was becoming more noticeable and more people started to draw attention towards this issue.
Tamir Rice is another example of police brutality. He was 12 years old, African American boy. This incident took place in Cleveland, Ohio, 4 months after Michael Brown was killed. The officers received a “911” call stating that there was a juvenile that had a “fake gun” in a park. Once the officers arrived the incident turned deadly within seconds. The officer parked his car near the park that Tamir was at and he immediately shot him. Twice. Tamir had a BB gun that looked almost identical to a real gun. After this occurred, news stations, media, and the public were relating this to the Michael Brown case. They were both unarmed, both weren’t causing much trouble but both officers used and did the extreme within seconds of interacting with them. After these incidents, both officers that were involved in the Michael Brown case and the Tamir Rice case received extreme backlash. In an article called, Officer Who Killed 12-Year-Old Tamir Rice Gets New Police Gig by Nina Golgowski, she talked about what happened to Officer Loehmann. The jury on Tamir Rice’s case decided not to charge him. It was later found out that he had lied on his application to the Cleveland police force. He was deemed “unfit” at his previous job. He was recently hired to be on another police force but many people are quick to refer back to Tamir. He is a controversial hire for that police department because he used police brutality.