When Those Sworn to Protect and Serve Cross the Line
The American people are divided on many social and political issues. The past decade in America has been plagued with controversy ranging from gun control, right to life, Obamacare, airport TSA protocol, and most recently the deaths of several black males nationwide at the hands of white police officers. The beliefs and principles of this country were built on the foundation of the Constitution of the United States. However, in more recent times it is evident that the Constitutional rights of black Americans as promised in the Constitution are slowly eroding away into obscurity as police brutality escalates, police misconduct is tolerated, and racial profiling is the justification for animalistic behaviors towards black Americans.
According to FBI statistics there is a clear disparity between deaths rates among black men and white men: (Wordpress)
During 2010-2012 black men ages 15-19 were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million while white men were killed at 1.47 per million.
Black teenagers are 10-40 times at greater risk of being killed by a police officer then white teenagers.
Is there an Exaggeration of Constitutional Rights Being Broken?
The first amendment guarantees the right of the people to assemble peacefully. Peaceful protests around the country in reaction to the deaths of several young black males at the hands of overzealous white police officers have been met with smoke bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets. (Grim and Goyette) .These deaths could have been prevented but making matters worse are that these deaths have been covered up, lied about by the reporting officers and their crimes against humanity have gone unpunished by the law enforcement agencies that are letting it happen.
The fourth amendment gives people the right against unreasonable searches and seizures. These rights are supposed to be guaranteed but recent statistics show that these rights are being dismissed under the guise of justice by those in authority who are bound to uphold the law.
Example 1: Four Milwaukee police officers were charged with performing illegal rectal searches of several suspects on the street. All suspects were black. (Barton and Diedrich).
Example 2. A group of three black individuals in a car, one woman and two men were pulled over without cause and searched for drugs. One black man was forced to strip naked and the black woman was forced to remove her pants and a tampon at the scene on a public street while other officers at the scene commented about her body. (Huffington Post)
The Fifth Amendment states that a person cannot be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process.While certain situations can occur that may result in deprivation of life, liberty and property, there are the inexcusable instances by law enforcement that crosses the line.
Example 1: Ramarley Graham was followed home by police who said he was carrying a gun. They kicked down the front door without a warrant and shot him in the chest without questions; no gun was found. (Reuters)
Example 2: According to police, Victor White III who had been patted down twice for weapons and drugs before being placed in the police cruiser had his hands handcuffed behind his back. Upon exiting the police cruiser with hands still cuffed behind his back police say Victor produced a handgun and shot himself in the chest. His death was labeled a suicide. (Cooper)
The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees “equal protection” to American people but the fact remains that black people in America have had to fight for every right that the Constitution has given freely to white men. The degradation of racial profiling and police brutality based on skin color or ethnicity goes against the grain and every moral fiber that this country prides itself on. It’s hypocritical, antagonistic, and unconstitutional.
Racial Profiling leads to unfair racial disparity in the Justice System
Many believe that racial profiling is a problem mainly seen in the south but racial profiling isn’t set to one geographic location. Many people believe that racial profiling and police brutality only exists in the south. This misconception is most likely due to the violent historical and animalistic treatments of blacks in the southern states dating back to the beginning of American history. When it comes to racial profiling, many people are on the fence about whether or not it is beneficial in our society in preventing crime. There is the unproven perception that the cause of most violence and crime in America is due to the Hispanic and black populations.
According to the U.S Sentencing Commission for prisons, black men are given twenty percent longer sentences than whites for the same crimes. Black people in general have always been the target of an unfair racially biased justice system since the days of slavery, segregation, mob lynching, and Jim Crow laws. The fact that the prison system incarcerates Hispanics and blacks at a significantly higher rate than whites is not proof that the crimes being committed are predominantly by minorities of brown skin. It only proves that the justice system has a more concentrated focus on the disadvantaged, underprivileged, and deprived populations of color.
The Sentencing Project for Research and Advocacy Reform state that the lifetime likelihood of imprisonment for black men and women don’t come close to their counterparts.
The likelihood of prison for a black man is 1 in 3 versus the white man’s likelihood of 1 in 17. The likelihood of prison for a black woman is 1 in 18 versus the white woman’s likelihood of 1 in 111. (Sentancing project).These numbers are astronomical and tell a story.
The phrase “racial profiling” sounds too politically incorrect but New York State has found a way to bypass that phrase and instead practices in a “stop and frisk” policy meaning that a police officer has the power to stop, question, and frisk individuals upon the standard of reasonable suspicion which violates the fourteenth amendment. (Matthews) Statistics in the last three years according to the NYPD’s own accounting show the following rate at which whites are stopped compared to blacks and Hispanics: (NYCLU)
Boston, MA on the other hand openly uses racial profiling. A study done between 2007-2010 as reported by CNN and the ACLU of Massachusetts shows that roughly twenty-five percent of the state population is black and sixty-three percent of all police officer stops involve blacks. (Carver). Seventy-five percent of the two hundred thousand police “stop-and-frisks” were documented as having no concrete reason to be stopped. Of that seventy-five percent, only two percent resulted in arrests. (Rhodan)
It is said that the stop-and-frisk policy in Florida is geared towards not just suspicious looking black males but all black males of any age. Since 2008 the Florida stop-and-frisk policy has led to 99,980 stops and did not produce a single arrest in a city with a population of 110,000. A story of particular interest revolves around Earl Sampson of Miami, Florida. This young black man has been stopped 258 times in 4 years for “trespassing” at his own job despite the store owner vouching for his employment. (Golgowski)
There is one city in America that has superseded the threshold of tolerance on violence and police brutality against their black citizens. Chicago is in such bad condition over the treatment of their black and Hispanic minorities that a report has been filed with the United Nations over the abuse and targeting of their black populations for the following reasons: (Erbentraut)
Between 2009-2011 Blacks and Latinos were involved in 92% of stun gun uses
Blacks are ten times more likely to be shot than whites
Rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment occur at alarming rate.
2012 had 8,452 complaints against police and only 105 were sustained.
Between 2002-2004 there were 10,149 complaints of excessive force, illegal search and seizures and racial abuse; 124 cases were investigated but only 19 officers reprimanded.
Of similar concern is Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2011. (Poston)
Blatant Instances of Police Brutality and the Victims they leave behind
Aside from the travesty and unconstitutional use of racial profiling there are even more cases of police misconduct and excessive brutality against black people that defies every principle that the Constitution stands for. While there are far too many legal cases to count involving black Americans, some of the more disturbing headlines read something like this: “Unconscious suspect beaten, kicked and clubbed by five Birmingham police officers”;“Shot in the back twelve times by the police”; “Tasered nineteen times, sprayed with pepper spray, and beaten with police batons”; “Disabled black woman in a wheelchair dies after being tasered ten times.” (Brainz) There can never be justification for the excessive brutality by police officers in the name of the law.
The headlines above are not few and far between and they didn’t just begin within the last five or ten years. The travesty of violence against the black Americans began hundreds of years ago when black people were kidnapped from their homeland in Africa, shackled and chained like animals, and brought to this country and sold like livestock. The black existence in America has been a journey no other culture has experienced. The violence experienced at the hands of law enforcement has left families fatherless, motherless, and childless. Victims of these crimes are left with not only physical scars that will stay with them forever, but psychological scars and emotional scars that will last a lifetime.
The National Police Misconduct Statistics and Reporting Project found that: “if excessive force complaints involving fatalities were prosecuted as murder, the murder rate for law enforcement officers would exceed the general population murder rate by 472%.” (Amaya). According to local, state, and federal authorities police officers are said to be held to a higher standard as they are public servants being paid for by citizen taxes. The motto “serve and protect” leaves many victims wondering who will protect them.
Police brutality, police misconduct, and racial profiling are cutting at the core of humanity. Constitutional rights are being trampled, civil rights are being obliterated, and the human spirit of all black Americans are withering away. It has been said by Martin Luther King Jr. that: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” (King)
Amaya. Police Officers Rarely Face Meaningful Punishment for Excessive Force and Brutality. 1 August 2012. Internet. March 2015. .
Barnett, Ron. Bill calls for study of racial profiling by S.C. police. 5 January 2015. February 2015. .
Barton, Gina and John Diedrich. 4 Milwaukee police officers charged in strip-search case. 9 October 2012. Internet. February 2015. .
Bay City News. SF police officer alleges racial profiling in lawsuit against city . 14 November 2013. Internet. February 2015. .
Blumenfeld, Warren. Blasting Away Black Faces and Lives. 21 January 2015. Internet. February 2015. .
Brainz. Extreme Cases of Police Brutality. 2009. Internet. February 2015. .
Carver, Marina. Study finds Boston police target African-Americans disproportionately. 9th October 2014. Internet. February 2015. .
Cooper, Wilbert. Autopsy Contradicts the Police's Account of Victor White III's Shooting in the Back of a Cop Car . 21 August 2014. Internet. February 2015. .
Ekins, Emily. 70% of Americans Oppose Racial Profiling by the Police. 1 October 2014. Internet. February 2015. .
Erbentraut, joseph. Chicago Police Are Getting Away With Brutality, And Most Of It Is Against Minorities. 23 October 2014. Internet. March 2015. .