Steve Biko. Sean Bell. Timothy Thomas. Kathryn Johnson, Amadou Diallo. This is just a short list of those who have fell victim to the corruption within the police force in this country. All of these victims were unarmed individuals shot and/or killed by police officers without right or reason. Families of these victims have had to deal with the wrongful loss of their loved ones, while the officers in all of these examples enjoyed the news of their acquittal. This is just a tiny sample of the overwhelming cases of not just police misconduct but also lack of consequence for these crimes.
As a black woman it astounds me every time I hear a Trayvon Martin or Robert Mitchell story which is the same tragedy each time. A young African-American male shot and killed by a police officer (or self-appointed watch guard) on the grounds of suspicion. The victim is almost always unarmed with a clean and normal lifestyle and without the slightest of a criminal background. Yet, the shooting officer or officers is in damn near every case found innocent of all charges. I’ve always wondered how this can even be possible in 2013? So you mean to tell me that for one life to take the life of another with no real rationale in criminalizing them and be free of charges you simply need a badge. A badge which defines the individual as someone who “protects members of the public and their property and prevent crime” according to Prospect’s official definition. It’s mind-blowing that police officers can commit the same act as any other criminal with the same misguided anguish , yet never see the inside of a cell. As if they are unequipped to have the same deluded thought process as any other human being with a weapon.
These incidents don’t seem to be slacking with a recent case involving now ex-police Lt. Jonathan Josey who was acquitted for simple assault charges in October of last year. Footage circulated last October of Josey punching a woman directly in the face at the Philadelphia Puerto Rican Day parade. Although the images shows the acting officer giving a direct hit to the woman’s face, the acquitted contends that he was simply trying to take a bottle out of the woman’s hand. It’s evident that the bottle was a safe distance from the woman’s mouth, yet Municipal Court Judge Patrick F. Dugan still found Josey not guilty of charges. It’s no secret that Philadelphia has a very sketchy and alarming police misconduct rate which is hushed with reports of city payouts of 13 millions to police brutality victims wanting to make their stories public. The CityPaper, released a report of Philadelphia’s overwhelming payout suggesting that the cases of violence involving the police department is not only being silenced by major settlements for victims but also being overshadowed by white collar crimes involving the police or political figures.
As a college student, it is a little alarming to hear stories of police misusing their power with full intent of what they are doing. I’ve seen and heard stories of police flexing their authority whether it be necessary or not. Whether it’s public intoxication or simply protesting a legislation. Police often exert much more force than needed to college students simply because they feel superior to a young and ( in their minds) easy target to intimidate. Heavy police force at a recent rally for African-American Studies raised many questions as to what exactly they were prepared to do. But we need not to worry about their actions, but arm ourselves with as much education on how the system has worked and what we can do to it make it work more correctly. It’s our job to fully understand the rights that we are given as citizens and let our lawmakers and “protectors of the law” know what we will or will not stand for including the wrongful conduct of the police force.
words by: Saudia Durrant
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