Police brutality is not a new topic, it is simply a controversy that has repeatedly come to light in the recent years. With cameras and video recording devices more easily accessible, documentation of these incidents has become more frequent. Yet a large percentage of police misconduct will go un-investigated, with many police officers admitting to turning a blind eye to these types of incidents.
Racial profiling is not a new terminology, yet it is something that occurs daily in the United States, becoming almost a normality. The term “driving while black” is a form of racial profiling where law enforcement officers are more likely to stop an African-American under suspicion of possible criminal activity. Arizona’s strict immigration law has allowed law enforcement officers to detain, harass and arrest any Hispanic under the suspicion that they may be an illegal immigrant. These cases are not few and far between, with Hispanics and African-Americans facing a higher chance of being stopped and frisked, than their White counterparts. Statistics also show that although minorities are more likely to be searched on probable cause, chances of them being found carrying a weapon or drug paraphernalia is lower. Police brutality among minorities is also higher, with reports showing that 313 African-Americans were killed in 2012 alone.
Law enforcement is meant to create a sense of security and safety, yet there seems to be a growing mistrust and anti-cop mentality, especially among minorities. With slogans such as “No Snitching” and “Kill a Cop” that reflect the mistrust and harbored hatred towards authority figures. Cases such as the infamous Rodney King scandal, or the most recent murder of Michael Brown, only give communities further reason to be wary of police. With numerous incidents of police misconduct and use of excessive force that resulted in the death of an innocent victim, the problem cannot be ignored. What happened to the phrase “innocent until proven guilty”? Many Americans are concerned about their 4th Amendment, with websites like CopBlock and FlexYourRights raising awareness on the double standards and corruption among law enforcement. Several petitions have been made to create stricter guidelines for police to follow, one includes adding front-facing cameras to helmets, as a way to combat police brutality.
Police officers have a high-stress job and it is understandable that they must take certain precautions for their own personal safety, but when does self-defense simply become excessive use of force? Is tear gas and pepper spray truly necessary to control a peaceful protest, or the relentless beating of an unarmed teenager “avid police work”? When does reasonable suspicion become blatant racism? A drastic change needs to be made, force should be a last resort, not the first. Law enforcement should be held accountable for their actions, police brutality must not continue going unpunished if the public wants to see a change in the system. How long must this abuse of power go on, with these fatalities simply swept under the rug? One must raise awareness, petition and practice those given constitutional rights if a change is to truly be made.
Opinion By Obeydah Chavez