Police brutality is a controversial topic for Americans in this country. According to Amnesty.org, by its very definition police brutality is “used to refer to various human rights violations by police. This might include beatings, racial abuse, unlawful killings, torture or indiscriminate use of riot control agents at protests.”
Whether you believe that the police protect citizens from harm’s way or they allow for inequalities to take place, the conversations surrounding race and the police have only grown since the Black Lives Matter movement started in the early 2010s.
Why are we still here…
From racial injustices in our legal system to the defunding of the police narrative, our political system has been questioned since the start of the racial equality movement in the early 1950s. New age technology like social media platforms and body camera footage leads us here to 2023. Minorities who disagree with this treatment are still discussing the ways that systems of power and oppression can affect them on a daily basis and cause them to fear for their lives.
So, why is this article about systems of power being written when there have been countless deep dives on the issue? Over the last month, two Black men have been subjected to police brutality, and they have ultimately met their demise after those occurrences with the law.
The cycle continues…
Keenan Anderson, cousin of Patrisse Cullors — one of the co-founding members of the Black Lives Matter movement — suffered from cardiac arrest after being severely tased by Los Angeles police at the site of a traffic collision in Los Angeles’ Venice neighborhood. He passed away on Jan. 3.
Father and avid skateboarder Tyre Nichols suffered the same untimely death after he was aggressively beaten by police after being pulled over for reckless driving in Memphis. He passed away in the hospital on Jan. 10.
Both men passed within a week of each other for similar issues, police stops on the side of the road. Both men had police officers use excessive force on them to showcase an abuse of power, which caused them to lose their lives.
However, these stories have not been propped up in the media like previous incidents of police brutality. Media cycles move very quickly now-a-days, especially after the “year of Covid-19” or 2020. During that time, Americans were sitting at home most of the time, and were thus forced to see and hear the cries of Black and Brown people sharing why they don’t feel safe in this country.
Sadly this has not changed much, and it has only gotten worse within the nation.
According to the Mapping Police Violence Database, “2022 was the deadliest year on record for police brutality in the U.S. since experts started tracking the killings in 2013.”
What can society do as a community to stay engaged and hold the systems of our world accountable?
- Do not call on your minority friends for their opinions!
- Most minorities during 2020 were forced to teach others about the ways that our justice system is flawed. Race is a nuanced conversation and while it’s important to hear Black and Brown perspectives on the issue that does not mean your friends have to answer to all the issues at hand.
- Do not send police brutality videos to your minority friends!
- Videos of Black people dying or being abused in the street are not something anyone would like to view. So please do not repost these videos on social media; not because they’re not important, but because of the heavy weight it could make your peers feel after viewing them. While these videos can be educational for those who might not understand the lengths to which executive force is used, it also is a terrifying example of the way our systems can hurt people it says it protects.
- Start educating yourself!
- Education in university and beyond is the only way that progress can be made, and has been made, within this country. As our society learns more about the ways race has affected us throughout this lifetime, listening to scholars like Bell Hooks, Angela Davis and James Baldwin will help start to break down the way that humans look at society.
- Vote EVERY TIME!
- The only power human beings in this nation have to change something is using our voices for good in the voting booth. Voting matters and everyone can use their voice to see the change they want to see in this country.
The new year has only been here for a month. As Black History month presses upon the American public, cycles of oppression still manage to continue all these years later. Will our society continue to allow these atrocities to take place, or will the average American take the initiative to get up and do the work to make a difference in this nation?
What are your thoughts on the recent atrocities that have taken place? Tweet @VALLEYMag and let us know how you’re feeling during this time.