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Police Brutality as a Form of Racial Discrimination in America

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Last year the New York Times released the dashcam video of the confrontation between Philando Castile and a Minnesota police officer during a traffic stop. Castile remained calm and courteous throughout the whole encounter, but one statement determined his fate. He said, “Sir, I have to tell you I do have a firearm on me.” As respectful as he may have seemed, the officer went into an instant panic and abandoned all sense of rationality, and in a matter of seconds, Castile had seven bullets in his body and life fleeting from his eyes. In the last few frames, another officer opened the back seat of the car and pulled out Castile’s four-year-old daughter, and took her away.

Police Brutality embodies a form of racial discrimination on a mass and violent scale, with disproportionate rates of Black American killings and inherent racial biases within the policing community. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Black Americans are three and a half times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans, and fewer than one in three of those Black Americans that are murdered were suspected of a violent crime and allegedly armed.

Some disagree that police brutality is a significant issue, given that the Constitution allows police officers to shoot under two circumstances: to protect their life or the life of another innocent party or to prevent a suspect from fleeing if the officer believes they are fleeing a violent crime or poses a threat to another innocent party. However, the Constitution also has the fourteenth amendment, which grants all people, regardless of race, the right to life, liberty, and equal treatment under the law.

There is no denying that there is inherent bias within the policing community. Police officers tend to make the subconscious association between black individuals and crime, which often influences their behavior. In a psychological experiment dubbed “The Police Officer’s Dilemma” paradigm, participants were placed in a simulation and were presented with pictures of young men, black and white, holding either guns or other miscellaneous objects. The goal was to shoot armed targets while refraining from shooting unarmed targets. It was found that participants shot armed targets more often and quickly if they were black, rather than white, and refrained more often when the targets were white. The most common mistakes involved shooting unarmed black targets and failing to shoot armed white targets.

The problem is real and terrifying. Some departments across the country have started implementing bias workshops and training, but more work must be done. We must advocate for and support criminal justice reform as well as the humanization of black Americans and police officers alike. Most of all, we must remember their names. His name was Philando Castile. Before Castile, you had Trayvon Martin, you had Rodney King, you had Michael Brown, and tomorrow, another name will replace them.    

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Police Brutality as a Form of Racial Discrimination in America. (2022, April 29). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 29, 2023, from
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