Police Brutality in the US
Picture if you will a beautiful sunny afternoon in the middle of San Francisco, Ca. A local group of bicyclists, known as Critical Mass, gather for a peaceful ride through the city. The monthly ride was designed to promote the idea that bikes are a positive alternative to cars. Instead of the normal hundred or so riders a mass of 6,000 or more cyclists gather for the ride. There was a speech from the mayor and then they set off to cruise the city, lead by their arranged police escort. Now picture your self, peddling along enjoying the sight in front of you. Suddenly you see congestion ahead of you. ‘What’s the problem?’ you ask your self. ‘Are those police cars blockading the bike course?’ You come to a stop. You hear a commotion about the escort being called off and the cops stopping the ride. Suddenly, with your bike at a complete stop, you are torn off your bike by two cops and throw to the black asphalt. Scared and worried, you try to cooperate as much as possible so that the police officers don’t confuse you with a criminal. Your helmet comes off your head, the skin on your arms and legs bruised and split as you are brought to lye on the ground. Three Cops, one threatening with pepper spray and another with his riot bat cocked back ready to swing. The last cop feeling he needs to detain you by forcing you to stay down with his knee jammed against the bones in your neck. Panic sets in. ‘WHATS HAPPENING,’ you scream in and outside of your head over and over again. “Hey you got the wrong guy, I didn’t do anything,” you insist. No, they don’t have the wrong guy because after the abuse you are arrested for unlawful assembly. While this ride, organized with the SFPD, was to be a peaceful trek through the city. When it ended 200 bikers and non-involved bystanders had been brutally attacked by law enforcement. One witness described the way the officers handled them selves, “The police were pretty nasty about it, and I didn’t see any rhyme or reason to it.” (Zamora, #1) Police brutality is an all to frequent crime, not just in our nations major cities but all over the country. The real crime is that the officers that commit these heinous acts get away scot-free.
Police stand to “protect and serve” the people of this nation from those who commit crimes, this is their creed and they are sworn to it. Still these incidences of abuse happen more than you would think. But why? Regardless of the sworn oath and procedures they are to adhere to, police officers are going to carry out their job in accordance with their own personal beliefs. (Bauman, #3) Each officer’s perception and judgement of a situation will be different due to their own biases. In most cases where people had been unnecessarily attack these rogue cops were involved. These biases can be anything from on the job experience to certain racist and political beliefs. One example of this is the Rodney King beating, in which several white cops beat a black man who was fully cooperating with them during his arrest. The officers’ actions involved were later proven to be racially motivated. (LA Times, #4) How can allow one man or woman to carry out their personal vendettas, taking their individual thoughts and actions and holding their law above what should justly be done. Holding them above their duty, which there are sworn to. Holding them above the laws of this a, democratic nation. Holding their emotions above our civil liberties that allow our citizens to be free.
How often does police brutality occur in this nation. Here are some statistics collected during a poll regarding these bad cops and their actions. In 1996 the Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted nation wide survey concerning the Publics contact with Police. It stated that there are 663,535 sworn officers in just the state and local law enforcement agencies nation wide. That works out to around 25 sworn officers for every 10,000 U.S. residents. 1 in every 5 people 12 years or older, that’s 45 million, had had face to face with an officer in the last year. Out of those surveyed 1.2 million were handcuffed with 500,000 or more people saying that the officer used force. Not threatening to take them to jail but these officers had hit, held, choked, sprayed with chemical spray, or threatened with a gun these half a million citizens. That’s 1.3 million, in 1996 alone, abused by police. These rogue officers seem like the criminals, when innocent citizens are treated like violent outlaws.
Unless we want these people to continue trespassing on our liberties with impunity, we must stand up. Unless we speak our opinions and let our voices heard, these rogue ‘protectors of the peace’ will keep getting away with it. We can’t let them win by seeking retribution through violence; we must do the one thing they hate, letting every person in this country no WHAT IS happening and WHO IS accountable. If we do not we will hear more head lines like, “Recent events left four teenagers shot and one man kicked to the ground by Providence police have given organizations incentive to fight to hold police.” (Berlin, #5) If there should be an incident of abuse, the parties involved will be held directly accountable, face immediate punishment, and the event will be made public. Why should we have this person get away with murder? Start a ‘Wall of Shame’, listing the victim’s, and other witness’s accounts. If these people know they will be caught they will cease their actions.
From what I have said you may get the idea that every police officer is on a holy crusade or is generally out to get you. This is not true; most police officers are good, caring, and levelheaded people. They make the right decisions coming from a neutral and unbiased mind. It is just the abusive cops that cause these crimes. The bad cops thrive as a school bully does, striking fear in minds of his victims; that any mention of the truth to the principal will lead to a beating on the basket ball court. The bully only has power when the kids are divided as individuals. So they rally together to stand up to their bully as one. We to will stand against this grave injustice, these bullies among men. Acting together we the people by the people will stand. Stand against these violations of our trust. Today take your stand, do what is right. Do not fear them because you are armed with the power of your mind, and the sound of your voice.
1. Jim Herron Zamora, “Critical Mass defendant pleads not guilty”, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/examiner/archive/1997/08/13/NEWS1343.dtl, Online News Story, 1999 San Francisco Examiner.
3. Robert Bauman, “Good faith breeds bad cops”, http://www.reason.com/9505/Bauman.may.html, Online, circa 97
5. Beth Berlin, “R.I. Groups Demand Police Accountability”, http://www.theherald.org/herald/issues/032295/police.f.html, Online, circa 97