Police brutality involves the use of excessive force against ordinary citizens. In addition, often, this abuse is not only physical but also verbal and psychological. Police violence in the United States has increased since the end of World War II in various racial, religious, political areas and in a systematic and highly complex form. Police violence in the United States is divided into three periods: during social movements in the 1960s and 1970s, during the anti-war demonstrations of the 1970s, and the period after the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is necessary to identify why police brutality is relevant and what are the reasons for the emergence of such a phenomenon.
Police violence can be harassment against groups of people, such as the crackdown on Occupy Wall Street protesters or against just one person. Police violence against minorities, because it has different aspects, can have different causes. Moore focuses on the root causes of police violence more than individual aspects of police behavior (Moore 84). From this point of view, when killing a suspect who later turned out to be innocent, it is necessary to check the psychological state of the police officer. At the same time, there is an alternative point of view, according to which the fault lies with the society or group in which the suspect found himself.
This does not mean that society as a whole is at fault, but the roots of this kind of police violence must be in those aspects of the community that arouse widespread police suspicion of a particular minority. For researchers such as Richard Canio, one of the reasons is the widespread unemployment, poverty, and crime in various parts of society (Moore 79). In many cases, local police officers are not enough to deal with criminals in large neighborhoods, especially those with black, Indian or Hispanic populations. This way, the cops don’t endanger their lives to stamp out crime in these neighborhoods. This is explained by the fact that the police know that the criminals in these neighborhoods are informed about the absence of the police on the streets and their inability to deal with crime.
In such a situation, when one of the representatives of this minority attracts the suspicion of the police, there is a high probability of violence against him by the white police with impunity. The reason for this must be emphasized is that the complete elimination of racial discrimination and interclass inequality has not yet been completely eliminated. In fact, in terms of economic, social, and even other political and civil rights, the class gap has not even narrowed in some cases.
The change that has taken place in the direction of the transition of production to service production in the United States has been accompanied by historical transformations and technological advances, but the distance between the minorities and the ruling class has increased. Because in the past, the labor force in the production of goods was primarily represented by minorities. In the current service economy, the labor force is the thinking power of people regardless of skin color, and in this process, the ruling system is not inclined to use black people in a discriminatory way.
In fact, the technology-based service economy is also in the hands of businessmen, and with the exception of some cases of microeconomics, ordinary citizens do not participate in its management. Referring to this fact, Richard Canio and his colleague McKay studied the influence of the socio-economic environment of American society on the formation of police violence (Moore 43). They believe that in a consumer society that is actively promoting consumption, minimal socio-economic disadvantages can contribute to the formation of victimization among citizens. Ultimately, this leads to the emergence of various aspects of oppression in society (Smith 97). Birth rates, cash and social security packages, basic housing, car ownership, and education all play a major role in the formation of general attitudes and attitudes toward society.
It should also be noted that many veterans of US military campaigns, for example, in Iraq or Afghanistan, join the police system after returning to the United States. They are usually placed in areas where the poor and low-income citizens live or in the area where ethnic and religious minorities live, which are most prone to violence (Smith 54). Another contributing factor to police brutality has been the lack of proper judicial review of files of police violence. Ultimately, this created a kind of immunity for the police and freed the hands of the police for subsequent punitive actions. Federal laws differ from state laws in the US, making it difficult to trace the causes of police violence, US lawsuits exonerate most offenders.
One of the main reasons for the ongoing police violence in the country is the acquittal in a court of police officers who kill innocents. Dr. Zainab Qasemi, a researcher on US issues in Iran, on cases of incitement to US police brutality, concludes that police violence has now become commonplace in American society (Moore 56). All protests in court against such a phenomenon remain fruitless. The police training system in the United States also encourages police brutality.
On the other hand, with the negative image created by the American media for certain groups of the population, especially blacks, the police treat them as presumed criminals and therefore act deliberately aggressively. Just as in most documentaries, this approach is intended to stimulate subjective perceptions of minorities (Smith 60). In any case, police violence, especially against blacks and Muslims, is not a new phenomenon (Smith 39). The only thing that has happened to the expansion of media, especially virtual networks, in the United States over the last few decades is the formation of mass demonstrations against police brutality in various US cities.
How media coverage of violent police treatment of citizens can influence their reform, not prevent their repetition. The media, especially in the United States, in reflecting the realities of society or actual events, follows the productions of the ruling circles and authorities, including the police (Nova 70). Most of the American media try to present police violence as isolated events resulting from the arbitrary actions of police officers, thereby hiding the systematic nature of police violence in the country.
In conclusion, it should be noted that police brutality is a phenomenon that is not a new trend. First of all, groups suffering from stereotypes and prejudice are subject to police violence. In addition, the reasons for this phenomenon lie in various spheres of society, from the economy to the media. In order to advance in this problem, Americans first of all need to get rid of discriminatory motives in society.
Moore, Leonard M. Black Rage in New Orleans. Police Brutality and African American Activism from World War II to Hurricane Katarina. LSU Press, 2021.
Nova, Phil. Police Brutality. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2018.
Smith, Elliott. Use of Force and the Fight against Police Brutality. Lerner Publishing Group, 2021.