Words Vs Weapons Essay
Words Vs Weapons
Amadou Diallo was a 23-year old immigrant from West Africa who originally came to the United States to study Biochemistry. Upon reaching the country he was not able to enroll in university. Instead he opened a sidewalk stall selling gloves, videotapes and socks in the morning and went to school in the evening. In the early hours of February 4, 1999 (Amnesty International), Mr. Diallo was entering his building in the Bronx district after a meal. Four New York Police Officers, all members of the elite Street Crimes Unit spotted him.
At that time the officers thought he matched the description of the serial rapist in the area. The officers were in plain clothes and approached Mr. Diallo. The following events were not clear but after everything, Mr. Diallo’s body was found riddled with bullets, 19 of which were considered fatal. There were 41 shots recorded in all, all coming from the four officers, none from the victim. A year after Mr. Diallo was defenselessly gunned down by four police officers in the Bronx district of New York, the case went to trial.
In February 25, 2000 (Peet) the four police officers, Sean Carroll, Richard Murphy, Edward McMellon, and Kenneth Boss were all found not guilty of the death of the 23-year old West African. This case was to become one of the most controversial cases documented of police brutality in New York at the end of the century. After the verdict the World Socialist Website described the case as the “most appalling expression of the effective denial of basic democratic rights to working class and poor people”. Unfortunately the Diallo case is not an isolated case in the United States.
In fact, it is a common situation that prevails between law enforcers and the public. International human rights organizations have put police brutality in the United States at the top of their priority. It is considered one of the most serious and divisive human rights violation in the country (Human Rights Watch). Although the Diallo case received nationwide attention because of the shear heinousness of the killing, there were other equally similar disturbing occurrences in other States. Atlanta alone recorded at least 12 shootings in the year 2000 (Wright). One of which was the shooting and killing of 18-year old Corey Ward.
He was wrongly profiled as a criminal just because he was a young black man with a brand new SUV. It is also alarming that the same officer who mistook and gunned down Mr. Ward was involved in four other similar situations in the past. In another incident, a middle-aged woman, diagnosed with mental illness, was shot inside her own apartment. Barbara Schneider was killed in her own home after neighbors called the police to report that she had her radio too loud and they were concerned about her behavior. The police broke down her door and found her with a paring knife. Three shots and she was dead (Howell).
Who could forget the case of Rodney King in 1991? Mr. King was repeatedly beaten by several police officers in Los Angeles after allegedly failing to stop when he was flagged down for a traffic violation. The whole world witnessed by videotape this horrifying ordeal of Mr. King. The acquittal of all the officers involved in the case triggered a stream of riots all over the city in 1992. The Los Angeles courts were forced to open up the investigation once again and this time the jury came back with a verdict of guilt of two officers, while the two others were acquitted for the second time.
In recent times, police brutality and the use of excessive force seem to have become more rampant. In 2007 alone, the internet was bombarded with over 2,000,000 documented videos in this subject, all happening in the United States. The cases are of severe beatings, use of dangerous restraint techniques to subdue suspects (Amnesty International), unjustified shootings, fatal choking, and unnecessary rough treatment (Human Rights Watch) among other concerning interactions between police officers and the public they pledged to protect and serve.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 19 May 2017
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