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ENC 2135 Police Brutality and Race Research Paper

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Parsons 1
Sammy Parsons
Ashley Rea
ENC 2135
12 July 2016
Police Brutality and Race
In recent years, police brutality has made major headlines in the media. This is not to say
that this has not always been an issue, but with new technology such as cameras and video
recorders, police brutality has hit another pressure point for America. Race has always been an
issue for as long as this country has stood. The media has portrayed police brutality in terms of
race and racism; so is this to explain the reason behind many cases dealing with police brutality?
How has race and racism shaped the discourse of police brutality? Evidence in multiple cases
show signs of racism acted out through the abuse of law enforcement.
Police brutality is a “civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with
excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than
necessary” (“Police Brutality Law & Legal Definition”). This excessive force and abuse of law
enforcement violates an individual’s rights. In recent years, the excessive force used by police in
America has brought a focus to racist and discriminatory practices (Chaney and Robertson
481). The black population have been victims of racial oppression since African-Americans were
first forced to America in order to work at the hand of the white man (481). There have been
many instances of violence, assaults, and riots in American history concerning blacks and their
road to freedom. In most cases, police were also involved in the assaults and violence of the
black population and their riots for freedom (481). Chaney and Robertson both conclude that,
“thus, to Whites, Blacks are viewed as deserving of harsh treatment in the criminal justice

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Parsons 2
system” (482). The idea that this is valid has been widely portrayed in the media in instances of
police brutality. Minorities, especially the black race, have been targeted in the media to have
suffered from police brutality more than the white race (“Chapter One: Race and the Police”).
Racial profiling is defined as the assumptions that the background of race and ethnicity of
an individual are grounds for suspicion (“Chapter One: Race and the Police”). The Leadership
Conference in Chapter One: Race and the Police states, “unfortunately, that discretion is
routinely exercised through the prism of race.” Race and ethnicity of an individual have been
issues for not only the black population but also for society in general. The public’s perceptions
of this has blown up in media recently; “blacks are more likely to be the victims of police
brutality” (Chaney and Robertson 482). Robert Staples wrote in his article, White Power, Black
Crime, and Racial Politics, that “since the end of segregation, there has been a political
movement, reflected in the media, that feeds the public a steady diet of images and platitudes that
perpetuate the idea that blacks pose a threat to whites, even if race is not directly mentioned.”
Racial profiling plays a vital role in this specific topic of police brutality. In a recent study,
Interstate 95 was monitored under the federal court for traffic stops by the Maryland State Police
(“Chapter One: Race and the Police”). It was noted that “70 percent of the drivers stopped and
searched by the police were black” (“Chapter One: Race and the Police”). Minorities have been
targeted by police through racial profiling and brutality. Hispanics and African-Americans have
a higher chance of being investigated than the white population (Chavez).
Oscar Grant was a young, African-American man who was shot and killed in Oakland on
the morning of New Year’s day of 2009 (Taylor 189). He was a victim of police brutality by a
BART police officer by the name of Johannes Mehserle (189). Oscar Grant and his friends were
headed home on a train when “allegations that a fight had taken place” on the actual ride caught

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Parsons 1 Sammy Parsons Ashley Rea ENC 2135 12 July 2016 Police Brutality and Race In recent years, police brutality has made major headlines in the media. This is not to say that this has not always been an issue, but with new technology such as cameras and video recorders, police brutality has hit another pressure point for America. Race has always been an issue for as long as this country has stood. The media has portrayed police brutality in terms of race and racism; so is this to explain the reason behind many cases dealing with police brutality? How has race and racism shaped the discourse of police brutality? Evidence in multiple cases show signs of racism acted out through the abuse of law enforcement. Police brutality is a “civil rights violation that occurs when a police officer acts with excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian that is more than necessary” (“Police Brutality Law & Legal Definition”). This excessive force and abuse of law enforcement violates an individual’s rights. In recent years, the excessive force used by police in America has brought a focus to “racist and discriminatory practices” (Chaney and Robertson 481). The black population have been victims of racial oppression since African-Americans were first forced to America in order to work at the hand of the white man (481). There have been many instances of violence, assaults, and riots in American history concerning blacks and their road to freedom. I ...
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