Police brutality is one of the top issues when it comes to racial discrimination in modern day America. There are those who are frightened for their lives whenever they meet the police because they do not know what will happen to them, but one thing is for sure, they do not feel safe. Over recent years there have been instances that caused major backlash against the police for example the death of George Floyd and the accidental shooting of Breonna Taylor. Demonstrations and protests were breaking out after news came out about these incidents, some of these turning into major riots. Recently I had the unfortunate experience of seeing a video of where a white man having an interaction with the police. The video itself was fine and nothing dangerous occurred but in the comments, someone thought it would be funny to say, “It’s okay he’ll be fine, he’s white”. Even if it was meant as a joke, the fact that statement is even thought of is very disgusting and makes it apparent that there is a problem within the police force. An issue with incidents based on race is a problem that stems from a long history of discrimination towards not only the black population but even towards other races. Civil rights movements have been going on for decades now, fighting to gain equal rights and opportunities as everyone else in this society.
To explain what happened to both George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, in March 2020, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed during a police raid on her apartment. According to the police, Breonna’s ex at the time was involved with the drug trade and Breonna’s apartment was believed to be a place where drugs could have been being delivered to and stored. During the raid, Breonna’s current boyfriend who was living with her at the time, fired shots at the police due to a misunderstanding in him believing that they were being broken into by her ex-boyfriend. The police fired back hitting her boyfriend and killing Breonna. This was scene as police brutality as Breonna claimed that the police had not announced their presence before breaking into the apartment which led them to engage in the scuffle in the first place. After the scuffle, Breonna received no medical attention from responding officers because one of the officers was hit by her boyfriend’s shots which many interpreted to meaning that her life was not as valuable as the officer present. The media picked up this case in May of 2020 after the George Floyd incident and during the police brutality movements to support the case the family had pending against the officers and to fight for justice for the death of Breonna.
In May 2020, a video caught media attention that contained a graphic scene. George Floyd was being arrested for allegedly using counterfeit currency to pay for his groceries. In the video it is seen that a police officer is restraining him against the ground by holding down on his neck with his knee. In the video George Floyd is heard repeatedly saying that he cannot breathe but the police officers showed no interest in what he had to say and continued to hold him down. George Floyd passed away. When this event was shown in the media, instantaneous backlash and public outrage occurred causing riots to take place demanding justice for George Floyd against the police officers. Many civil rights groups began to grow tremendously and were some of the lead voices of the movement. The riots that followed this event were unfortunate and violence is never the answer whenever you are fighting for change. However, I believe these riots were the result of a buildup of public anxiety and tension from years of unheard systematic treatment of discrimination by the police against people of color. The public can only take so much of being treated unfairly before it leads to a proportionate reaction against it.
The examples I provided were only a few of many that were being represented in the fight against police brutality as there were many more examples that had occurred and were continuing to occur out of public eye. However, because of these events, widescale awareness began for the police brutality movement involving thousands, probably millions of people that were fighting for justice against the police officers who have committed wrong. They were also striving for reform among the police force to create a safer police force that the people can believe and place their trust in. I have always heard about various sources and statistics that would talk about the numbers of incarcerated people of color compared to the number of incarcerated white population and how the numbers were statistically significant. I believe this kind of blatant discrimination stems from a long history of unfair policies and unequal treatment towards the colored population leading to problems we see in modern day America that occur far too often for it to be considered an accident.
The black population has had an unfortunate history in America with a long and hard battle for civil rights after starting out in slavery. Even after slavery was abolished it was still difficult with segregation and unequal rights given to them. Reading John Lewis’ March and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s letter we were able to see what these men were thinking during their time of struggle against unequal rights and the harassment they endured for it. Unfortunately, while these men were attempting to make great strides for their future there were those who opposed their advancements and that lingering opposition in our country is what causes issues to occur. Sadly, racism is still very much a thing today and because of this many people of color are frightened for their safety when they hear about this kind of behavior in the police force or wherever it occurs around them. I believe that the minority population in America can be viewed as the subaltern and I believe that they have had their voice muffled for most of America’s history and are now starting to be heard through mediums like news outlets and the media.
I believe the scariest parts about these incidents that occur is not exactly what happened (not to say what occurred is not deplorable) but what would have happened if people did not hear about it. What if what happened to George Floyd was not recorded and caught media attention, would we even know about it? Would it have just been put out of sight and those involved would just receive a slap on the wrist? How many other cases like this have occurred that we do not know about? Many believe that without public backlash and interference with George Floyd’s case, the men responsible for his death probably would not have even lost their jobs. When questions like these starts to circulate in the public from a lack of trust in the police force and even in the government, it leads to a public that have no faith in their government causing a dangerous relationship between the two. I believe the media is a great tool for encouraging change in whatever is wrong and now it is our job to act and fix the issues in our system so something like that never happens again and to change and reinstate policies. At the same time however, I believe the media should not have to be used as a method to keep the authorities in check. The authorities should consist of a group of people that care about public safety and will not act out of the ordinary based on their own negative ambitions.
The image of the police force is at a very scary and dangerous depiction in the past couple of years. People should not have to say things like “Just listen to everything they say, and everything will be fine”. The police should be viewed as a pillar of safety and justice in our nation. People should be looking to go to the police whenever something has occurred, not being frightened of them. Of course, this is not entirely the police’s fault. The media has the tendency to exaggerate situations and cause a sort of fear mongering in the public whenever a news story breaks out. For example, with the COVID breakout many news stations were filling the public’s heads with all sorts of crazy ideas about the disease and how it may be the cause of the apocalypse and what not. At the same time situations where innocent people are killed by police officers should never occur, especially due to discrimination towards the person they are interacting with. The unfortunate deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are examples of such and with the media coverage they received, hopefully action can be done to produce a reformed police force that treats every case with true equality and into one that is more careful in the future and does not interact with hostility towards anyone.