“Most middle-class whites have no idea what it feels like to be subjected to police who are routinely suspicious, rude, belligerent, and brutal. ” ? Benjamin Spock In the year 2015, 400 plus years after slavery, America still struggles with the thought of racism amongst African Americans. To name a few, African Americans experience racism through racial inequality, racial profiling, and police brutality. The Black Lives Matter Movement in particular brought the attention to police brutality in America.
Known to be the new Civil Rights Movement, Black Lives Matter was created because of the injustice amongst people of color when it comes to police killings. According to the Guardian, blacks killed by police this year were more than twice as likely to be unarmed as were whites. The Guardian also said wrote 32% of African-Americans killed were unarmed while 15% of whites and 25% of Latinos did not have weapons. These statistics are scary but true. Which brings the question of why? Why are police killing our unarmed black men and women?
Why should African Americans trust an institutionalized American system that was never meant to protect black people? I personally believe police brutality stems from the history and origin of American policing and because of bias and malice driven white cops. More importantly, is the black community haunted by historical beliefs, practices, and stereotypes that once deprived them? To understand the mentality of a police officer we must first understand the history. America inherited much of its governmental institutions from Great Britain.
The thought of slavery and racism did not end after the Civil War. In actuality it can be argued that violence against black people became worse with the rise of vigilante groups who resisted Reconstruction. “The institution of slavery and the control of minorities, however, were two of the more formidable historic features of American society shaping early policing. Slave patrols (Paddy Rollers) and Night Watches, which later became modern police departments, were both designed to control the behaviors of minorities. ”( Kappeler, Victor E. A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing.
“A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing. Eastern Kentucky University, 07 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Dec. 2015. ) The duties of Slave Patrols were to search slave lodges, keep slaves off roadways, and break up slave organized meetings. In 1704, Carolina incorporated the nation’s first slave patrol. Slave patrols helped to maintain the economic order and to assist the wealthy landowners in recovering and punishing slaves who in essence were considered property.
Slavery and the mistreatment of people of color were not only in the south as I and so many have been taught to believe. Connecticut, New York and other colonies passed laws to punish and control slaves and or runaways. In 1793 and 1850 Congress passed fugitive Slave Laws, laws that allowed the detention and return of escaped slaves. “As Turner, Giacopassi and Vandiver (2006:186) remark, “the literature clearly establishes that a legally sanctioned law enforcement system existed in America before the Civil War for the express purpose of controlling the slave population and protecting the interests of slave owners. (Kappeler, Victor E. “A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing. ”
A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing. Eastern Kentucky University, 07 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Dec. 2015. ) The use of police to catch runaway slaves was one of the antecedents of formal police brutality, especially in the South in my opinion. The last time America has seen the use of excess force by police was during the 1960s. Police harassment simply meant people of African descent were more likely to be stopped and questioned by the police.
Blacks in an extreme case but now considered the norm have suffered beatings, and even murder, at the hands of White police. For years white police has had the upper hand when criminalizing blacks. We as Americans are supposed to feel safe and protected by police officers in our neighborhoods, homes, local parks, etc. However their actions have become questionable as we see continuous acts of brutality against African Americans. In the end the police department was started to catch runaway slaves and “maintain” order for slave owners.
For example the badge worn by police officers to this day resembles the ones worn by the runaway slave patrol. Sometimes images can what words cannot express. 1859 Slave Badge Patrol, Carolina The similarities between Slave Patrol and modern ay policing are to catch, harass, and then kill black people in my opinion. “The similarities between the slave patrols and modern American policing are too salient to dismiss or ignore. Hence, the slave patrol should be considered a forerunner of modern American law enforcement. (Kappeler, Victor E. “A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing. ”
A Brief History of Slavery and the Origins of American Policing. Eastern Kentucky University, 07 Jan. 2014. Web. 08 Dec. 2015. ) In a scholarly article written by Marlese Durr, she stated “Today, a more delicately obscure adaptation of the slave patrols, instituted by municipal governments has introduced aggressive measures such as Stop and Frisk, Racial Profiling, or Driving While Black, but most important is the “Speak When I Tell You Law”.
They relive a historically continuous “Nigger Moment,” the time when you realize your social position and location in society comes down to your skin color, embedded in White perceptions, and stereotypes that continue to live, despite the respite of canopies” (Marlese, Durr “What is the Difference between Slave Patrols and Modern Day Policing? Institutional Violence in a Community of Color” Critical Sociology September 2015 41: 873-879, first published on August 11, 2015) Now we have seen in history that police has been systematically taught to harass, beaten and kill African Americans.
Police brutality has risen among black people within the past few decades. In an article written in the NY Times 31. 8 percent of people shot by police were African American, a proportion more than two and a half times the 13. 2 percent of African Americans in the general population. For the entire country 28. 9 percent of people arrested were African American which is not a big difference is the number of people shot and killed by police. In November 2015, the total number of police killings surpassed 1,000.
According to the Guardian police in the United States are killing people at a rate that would result in 1,100 fatalities by the end of this year, which recorded an average of three people killed per day during the first half of 2015. These stats are far from accurate because it does not include cases such as Sandra Bland who official cause of death was ruled “suicide”. Out of the 1,000, 478 of those people were shot and killed, while 31 died after being shocked by a Taser, 16 died after being struck by police vehicles, and 19 including 25-year-old Freddie Gray in Baltimore have died after altercations in police custody.
The totals indicate that black people are being killed by police at more than twice the rate of white and Hispanic or Latino people. Black people killed by police were also significantly more likely to have been unarmed. What brings unjustifiable killings of African Americans? My thought are white cops have bias, some are ill-trained, and they come from a place of malice and hatred. It’s widely assumed that white police officers are more likely to shoot black suspects as a result of racial bias In a recent article posted in the Washington Times they suggest research states the opposite.
The article stated the Journal of Experimental Criminology found that participants in realistic simulations felt more threatened by black suspects yet took longer to pull the trigger on black men than on white or Hispanic men. “The results back up what one of the researchers, University of Missouri-St. Louis professor David Klinger, has found after independently interviewing more than 300 police officers: While they don’t want to shoot anybody, they really don’t want to shoot black suspects.
Across these 300 interviews, I have multiple officers telling me that they didn’t shoot only because the suspect was black or the suspect was a woman, or something that would not be consistent with this narrative of cops out there running and gunning,” said Mr. Klinger, a former cop and author of “Into the Kill Zone: A Cop’s Eye View of Deadly Force” (2006). (Richardson, V. (2015, January 5). The real racial bias: Cops more willing to shoot whites than blacks, research finds. Retrieved December 9, 2015) these findings from the university may very well be true but actions speak louder than words.
With all the unjustifiable killings such as Tamir rice, Michael brown, Cory Jones, and Sandra Bland this article is far from the truth. African Americans are being shot not one, not two but up to fifty times and the article states white cops are hesitant to shoot a black man? I don’t the connection. Fifty to one hundred bullets rounds means the cop has to stop and reload his gun to continue. It makes me wonder at what point does the cop say “that’s enough” at what point do they stop to think that the situation could’ve been handled differently. Killing someone with fifty to one hundred bullets is driven by complete hatred, racism, and malice.
There is no other explanation. Can African Americans ever trust police? I do not think we can. In recent conversations with my peers some have said they will protect themselves by any means necessary. Some have purchased guns while others buy more guns. I can honestly say it wasn’t until a black man became president that we see more of the prejudices and racism amongst black people. Not to say that it was never there to begin with. With all of my findings I can conclude police brutality stems from the history and origin of American policing and because of bias and malice driven white cops.