Thesis: police brutality in the United States is a result of racial prejudice
II. BODY PARAGRAPH 1:
Detail 1: analysis of historical causes of police brutality
Detail 2: the role of race in triggering police brutality
Detail 3: persistence of police brutality in present times
III. BODY PARAGRAPH II:
Detail 1: current observations on matters pertaining to police brutality
Detail 2: the issue of race
Detail 3: analysis of other factors that may trigger police brutality
IV. BODY PARAGRAPH III:
Detail 1: case studies of police brutality
Detail 2: the case of Rodney King
Detail 3: the case of Malik Jones
V. BODY PARAGRAPH IV:
Detail 1: Reaction of the public towards cases of police brutality
Detail 2: Public support of police brutality
Detail 3: Public outcry against police brutality.
VI. BODY PARAGRAPH V:
Detail 1: In defense of police brutality
Detail 2: Police brutality as a way of protecting the citizens
Detail 3: Viability of this argument
VII. BODY PARAGRAPH VI:
Detail 1: What can be done to curb police brutality
Detail 2: Measures suggested by the Human rights watch
Detail 3: Recommendations of amnesty international
Reconfirmed Thesis: While other underlying factors have contributed to the rise of police brutality, racial prejudice is the most prevalent factor.
Canaday, Marquis, Historical causes behind police brutality in America. Associated content 08
March 2008. 16 Feb 2009.
In this article, the writer analyses the historical causes which may have laid the groundwork for the prevalence of police brutality in America. Past race relations are seen to be a major contributing factor to this phenomenon. After reconstruction, the law enforcement officers were mostly white and they did not relate well with some ethnic groups, notably the blacks. Some of the officers were even active members of the Ku Klux clan and they would use excessive force on Blacks as opposed to Whites. Other races such as Hispanics and Asians were treated with relative fairness. As a result, there was a growth of enmity between the police and Blacks particularly in the civil rights era. As crime rates soared in the 70s, so did attacks by the police force, mostly directed at blacks who were perceived to be criminals. Remnants of this misuse of authority can still be observed in some places.
Lawrence, Regina G. The Politics of Force: Media and the construction of police brutality,
Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001
The author of this book attempts to make society understand how the media, through their dramatic reports, lead us to pay attention to a particular issue such as that of police brutality. Since most of cases of police brutality are made public through the media, journalists are therefore seen as mediators in the struggle. The role of the media is very important in the struggle against excessive use of force by the police. The author analyzes the social construction of this problem as well as the competing claims on police brutality which have been made. He goes on to analyze the Rodney King case and the role of Los Angeles times in making it public as well as police brutality in the arena of National Media.
Lee, Dwight, “In defense of excessive government”, Southern Economic journal 65. 4:674, 1999
The author of this article, Lee Dwight assumes the role of the devil’s advocate and tires to explain why at times, the use of excessive force by the police may be justified. He asserts that to reduce police brutality, the discretionary authority that the police enjoy would have to be reduced to such an extent that their role as protectors of the public will be grossly undermined if not completed eliminated. He asserts that extreme brutality of the police also means a greater protection of the public and states that if we are to provide a greater protection of the public, then there is no choice but to allow the police excesses even if they engage in brutality. This is a useful source as it brings in a different perspective to the issue and sets the groundwork for a useful debate.
Massaquoi, Hans J. “How to stop police Brutality.” Ebony, 46.9:58+ July 1991
The author of this article takes a break from the usual criticism and documents some practical approaches towards dealing with the issue of police brutality. Blacks are cited as the most vulnerable to abuse by the police and the article documents several calls from various departments to improve the activities of the police force. Various stake holders gave their views on the issue of police brutality and how it can be dealt with, some of them warned against generalizing the entire police force as this could make the public lose confidence in the officers. The biggest trigger of this debate is the video tape of Rodney King, a motorist who was not resisting arrest and had no defense, being beaten up by white policemen as others watched. This caused a public outcry and showed the need for reforms.
“Police Brutality must end”, The progressive 64 4: 8, April 2000
In this magazine article, there is a clarion call to end the incidences of police brutality. It observes how police brutality and abuse of authority have become so common place in the United States to such an extent that they are considered the norm rather than the exception. The article analyzes examples in which the police have used excessive force and gotten away with it simply because they are the police. It also analyzes the confessions of an officer who claims that his colleagues had framed suspects several ties and that they also covered up for each other in case of wrongdoings. Several other evidences of police brutality are documented and articles conclude by recounting the recommendations given by the Human Rights Watch to curb this vice.
Johnston, Kevin. Police brutality cases on rise since 9/11. USA Today 18 Dec 2007. 19 Feb 2009
The author of this article, Johnston Kevin addresses mainly the issue of prosecution of police accused of brutality. He notes that federal prosecutors are handling more and more cases related to the use of excessive force by the police and that these statistics have risen significantly since the year 2000. He links the apparent rot in the police force to poor screening and training of police officers and asserts that most of the cases which have to do with police brutality are rarely prosecuted. He quotes some people who are concerned by the recruitment process of the police and raises doubts on its quality. He attributes the lack of prosecution of police brutality cases to the jury who are more inclined to believe the police officers as opposed to the civilians as well as fellow officers who are involved in cover ups and judges who acquit the accused without proper trial.
Shapiro, Bruce. “When Justice kills: After years of Decline Police Brutality is on the Rise
sparking a Reform Movement.” The Nation 264. 22:21+, 9 June 1997
The author of this article, Bruce Shapiro, documents the rise and rise of police brutality as the years advance. It analyzes the case of two young men who are involved in a car chase with the police and are shot at despite being unarmed and having committed no apparent criminal offence. One of them dies and controversy ensues as the police refuse to take responsibility for wrongful killing. Race is perceived to be an underlying contributing factor to the killings. The article goes on to document some of the efforts that are being taken to reduce the violence. It also analyzes the difficulties that are encountered by the reform movements in their quest for justice and reforms. The writer points out that society has contributed a lot to the policing culture since some people seem to support police brutality against criminals.
Shapiro, Bruce, “Policing Brutality”. The Nation, 265.8:4+, 22 September 1997
The author of this article, Bruce Shapiro, observes a certain amount of tolerance in society towards excessive and violent behavior by the police. There seems to be a silence that no one wants to break. Most of the nurses who often treat the victims of police brutality are reluctant to report the matters to the relevant authorities. Likewise, the relevant authorities seem unwilling to accord this issue the seriousness that it deserves and only make half hearted attempts. The writer likens this attitude to a tolerance towards racism and segregation during the civil rights era and insists that such tolerance towards cruelty must be done away with if the issue is to be adequately addressed. The writer concludes by challenging the key figures in authority to take a more decisive action to end this injustice once and for all.
“Shielded from justice: Police Brutality and Accountability in the United States” Human Rights
Watch Report June 1998, 19 Feb 2009.
This source is a report published by the human rights watch on a research conducted from 1995 to 1998. It examines the incidence of police brutality in fourteen large American cities: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Chicago, Minneapolis, new York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Boston, San Francisco, New Orleans, Providence, Philadelphia, Washington D.C and Portland. These cities are assumed to be representative of America. The cases of police brutality are examined in each city and found to be widespread with several barriers to achieving justice facing victims of police brutality. The report analyses several factors which hinder accountability in the police force as well as the achievement of justice and these are found to be the same in almost all the cities. The report concludes by giving recommendations on what can be done to reduce the prevalence of such incidences.
“United States of America: Police Brutality and excessive force in the New York City Police
Department”, Amnesty International report (AMR 51/36/96) 26 June 1996
This report by Amnesty international documents the findings of a research conducted by the organization for a period of 18 months on police brutality, in the New York Police Department (NYPD). While Amnesty International cannot confirm the allegations, it acknowledges that there is a problem and notes a pattern of abuses dating back to the 80s. The report analyzes deaths while in custody, police shootings and other alleged forms of police brutality. It analyzes the guidelines for the police force regarding the use of force and the disciplinary actions that are taken in the event that one violates these guidelines. A lot of secrecy is observed on complaints that have been made against the police. Race is found to be a significant contributing factor to the use of excessive force by the police. The report concludes by offering recommendations for curbing the vice.