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“In early August 1997, reports surfaced of a police brutality scandal in New York City. Newspapers across the country reported that Abner Louima, a Haitian immigrant to the United States, was arrested on August 9, 1997, and brought to the station house of the 70th Precinct where New York City Police Department (NYPD) officers took Louima into the bathroom, beat him severely, and sodomized him with the handle of a plunger.2 Through a recent study by Amnesty International had reported an alarming pattern of excessive force by NYPD officers,3 local authorities predictably refused to recognize that the Louima incident might represent something more than an isolated occurrence(Marshall, 1998)”. Since then many cases of police brutality have been committed nationwide. What exactly is police brutality? Police brutality; is a “civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than necessary. Excessive force by a law enforcement officers is a violation of a person’s rights”( USLegal). Consequently, resulting in punishment right? Well that’s not the case for all police brutality cases. In my opinion, all types of police brutality cases should be punished, especially if the excessive force provided leads to the death of a civilian.
“Police brutality has been around for ages. Modern policing did not evolve into an organized institution until the 1830s and ’40s when northern cities decided they needed better control over quickly growing populations. The first American police department was established in Boston in 1838. The communities most targeted by harsh tactics were recent European immigrants. But, as African-Americans fled the horrors of the Jim Crow south, they too became the victims of brutal and punitive policing in the northern cities where they sought refuge” (Nodjimbadem, 2017). Although many things have changed in our criminal system and society since those times, there is still a large number of police brutality cases towards our citizens today especially in urban cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston etc. In 1855, Walt Whitman called New York “one of the most crime-haunted and dangerous cities in Christendom (Chadwick, 2017), he warned people and tourist to stay inside once dark so what was done about this? Well it was time to get some order in and they did, the best way people thought of back then… by force.
“The cops on the first professional police force were told to be tough as soon as they were hired. The old constable had been not only ineffective but weak. Killers, robbers, and gangbangers had gotten away with murder for decades, and the public was sick and tired of it. The new officers were told to use as much force as they felt necessary to apprehend criminals and stem the ever-rising crime wave. A common practice was to crack criminals over the head, or across the back of the neck, with their thick, fourteen-inch-long wooden nightsticks, or billy clubs, regardless of the consequence. Police pushed, shoved, and kicked men down a street. Ears were pulled hard, throats were put in a vise hold, knee pressure was applied to the lower back, ankles were kicked, feet were stomped on. Usually, the nightstick blow to the head knocked men down, or unconscious, and sometimes victims later suffered brain damage” (Chadwick, 2017). Since then New York City has been able to rise even more with its brutality, more so than ever due to the media and social media showing the public eye there mishaves something that wasn’t so popular back then.
New York City comprised into 5 boroughs sitting where the Hudson River meets the Atlantic Ocean. At its core Manhattan, a densely populated borough thats among the world’s major commercial, financial and cultural centers (WebPaul). We love New York, many people come here everyday but, New York has had its scandals over the past few years. For example, one of my favorite is the “Dirty Thirty” which took place in the 1990s in Harlem’s 30th precinct. It was the cocaine capital of the city. “In 1994 alone, officers legally confiscated $900,000 in drug money double the average recovered in every other Manhattan precinct. Dealers came from neighboring boroughs and states to buy blow in bulk out of heavily guarded prewar buildings, using spycraft-type methods to circumvent the law. They also shopped right out of the 30th Precinct police headquarters. More than just skimming from crime scenes or the evidence room, “Nannery’s Raiders” ran an organized drug distribution operation under the supervision of Sgt. Kevin P. Nannery. Fake radio calls were made to provide cover for illegal raids on drug dens, the spoils of which were either pocketed or resold on the street. The market was so saturated with stolen product that a gram of coke sold for $20 to $25; in the rest of the city, it averaged $50 to $90. It took a two-year investigation by undercover cop Barry Brown to bring down the corrupt crew” ( New York Post, 2015). It’s definitely something that is still talked about today, those that swear to protect and serve us were very much shady themselves, thankfully all 33 officers were arrested and charged. Now, another more recent New York scandal was in 2014 when the death of Eric Garner occurred in the hands of a New York officer.
Eric Garner died in Staten Island, New York City, after a New York City Police Department (NYPD) officer put him in a headlock or chokehold for about 15 to 19 seconds while arresting him. NYPD policy prohibits the use of chokeholds. The officer denied choking Garner, but the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office report stated ‘Cause of Death: Compression of neck (choke hold), compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police (WNYC News). This incident right here caused a global riot! “Mr. Garner’s death was the start of a succession of police killings that captured national attention and ignited debate over race and law enforcement. From Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., to Walter Scott in North Charleston, S.C., to Freddie Gray in Baltimore, the deaths of black men at the hands of the police have faced a level of scrutiny that would have been unlikely just a year ago, before Mr. Garner died and before a grand jury in December declined to bring charges in his death” (New York Times). People were mad! I myself was one of them. The extreme use of force from police officers was getting tiresome for many and we wanted justice served and people to realize race is still a big factor today when it comes to our police officers.
“Over the last decade, there has been a major focus on African Americans and the U.S. criminal justice system, particularly around the issues of mass incarceration and police brutality. The best-known recent work on the problem of mass black incarceration is Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Color Blindness (2010). Alexander argues that while the Civil Rights Movement had been successful in eradicating overt racist laws, policies, and practices, by the 1980s the gains made by the civil rights and Black Power campaigns had been largely eradicated due to mass incarceration that she identifies as “the New Jim Crow.” Alexander points out that the “War on Drugs” has served as an excuse for the most overtly racist behavior by law enforcement officers and drug laws have not stemmed the flow of illegal narcotics into poor and working-class black neighborhoods” (Taylor, 2019). In New York City 26 percent of our population are African Americans and in Riker Island a New York City main jail complex, about 93 percent of the inmate population is male and the majority are African-Americans and Latinos from low-income neighborhoods in New York. In my opinion that is just ridiculous! We need a change in our law enforcement in New York City we are a city that have people from all over the world there is no space for racism especially in those that have to protect us.
Today, the talk about racism seems to never end whether it’s towards police brutality, bullying, stereotyping or just simplying a hate crime. I myself for being dark skin have been a victim of a hate crime I felt very sad and frustrated because, I didn’t bother to react even though I wanted to I just kept walking but, I was very sad that it’s 2019 and things seem to never change. That invisible Black and White line seems to be always around following all of us. One change that I would love to see is a better evaluation of our police officers when it come to race and social class. They need to understand that everyone is very much different and not all were raised the same. My second idea for change would be for those that do commit police brutality get stripped away from their duties as a police officer. Although, I believe police officers that use excessive force should be punish, many might not agree with me and say that it is neccesary in order to keep the peace which is what officers are here for. Well my answer to them would be, No! Police officers are here to PROTECT AND SERVE the people and keep us secure from any harm with their skills, not push us away with there own violent acts that would lead for us citizens being afraid of them.
In conclusion, police brutality is a serious problem in New York City and its connection with racism towards African Americans. Just in this year alone there have been 56 people shot and killed by a police officer, 56!!! and it’s only February 4. Our justice system needs help ASAP we need to re-evaluate our entire system to make a big difference, our kids need to grow up in a better place. These body cameras need to be better and so do our police officers it’s not all about the equipment sometimes it’s the person behind the uniform. Citizens need to feel comfortable when it comes to our officers and with these number increasing and stating the biases I don’t see that happening anytime soon. We has a society need to stand up for ourselves and not let these things slide by because of power. We are the power and when we all stand for the same thing it won’t be easy not to heard.
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