Police Brutality: When Justice Becomes A Privilege

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As our last line of defense and justice, police departments all over the country have worked to keep civilians safe in whatever way they can. Thinking over the true purpose of an officer, however, makes it even more painful to consider the acts of violence caused by members of the police over the course of our lives. Over the last five years, there have been multiple examples of police misconduct in the United States. There were five reported cases in 2014 alone, and more than five times as many cases were recorded in the last two years than in the last five.

A common trend in all these attacks have been unprovoked violence against people the police deemed ‘suspicious’. Another disturbing trend is the prosecution of police officers who were involved in the attacks, many of whom were found innocent and released. As an issue deeply entrenched in race, it is no surprise that cases that involve the deaths of African Americans and other racial minorities have been uncontested by the law.

From Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man police beat and killed, to Michael Brown and 12 year old Tamir Rice, it doesn’t take much to realize that police brutality has escalated out of control in many states. This isn’t to say that all members of the police engage in violence, nor is it to say that all police are racist, but that clearly some change in the US’s policing system is called for. This is made evident in a report done by MSNBC, 92% of police searches, 86% of police stops, and nearly 93% of arrests made by police were of African American citizens. The statistics don’t make it hard to realize the existing racial discrimination in police systems across the country.  

The public outrage was on full display in Ferguson and Charlotte amongst others and have had various protests happen over months on end. It’s quite sad to watch the cycle happen over and over again. An innocent member of the community is abused, protests ensue, and an apology is released with no actual justice. The parents of Ramarley Graham, an african-american teen shot in the Bronx, states in an interview with the New York Daily News that they don’t want empty apologies from an organization that has abused their community but rather charges against the officers who committed these atrocities to be approved.

Although it may seem as if these issues are unique to the US, Taiwan has also faced various accounts of police brutality during protests. The Taipei Times reported the Huaguang community police to engage in multiple accounts of unprovoked violence during a student protest. Shen Hsin-Hung, a student at the protest, was trying to help two other protesters who had been pushed to the ground by the police. When he was trying to get an officer’s assistance, the officer grabbed and proceeded to kick and wound him.

Clearly, the assault on innocent citizens because of their race as well as the lack of professionalism from police in both Taiwan and the US is a cycle that must be stopped one way or another. A clear solution to such an ongoing issue is hard to find. Many say that time is the only way the community’s wounds will heal and justice brought, but sometimes we can’t wait for change to happen. Policy changes need to happen. The people that run our governments need to understand what attacks such as these may have upon the community and in turn work to turn our departments around and understand that this problem isn’t going to go away on it’s own.