Harassment of Blacks

United States have a long history of shooting unarmed black men by the Police Officers. In this article, I will mention some of the recent popular cases that has sparked riots and protest all around the country.

July 17, 2014:

Eric Garner, a 43 year old African American man was killed by the police after an encounter in Staten Island, NY. He was standing outside a store and police tried to arrest him for selling untaxed cigarettes, he argued with them which led to the use of force. The confrontation turns fatal when Officer Daniel Pantaleo put Garner in chokehold and brings him to the ground with the help of other officers. Garner was asthmatic and he repeatedly screamed, “I can’t breathe.” Shortly after he becomes silent and dies from an instant heart attack. This was recorded by a 22 year old man, Ramsey Orta, who states that Garner wasn’t selling any untaxed cigarettes. In fact, he just helped broke up a fight between three men. But a grand jury decision refused to charge the police officer.

August 9, 2014:

Michael Brown, an 18 year old black male who was shot by the police in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown had no criminal record, he was walking in the street with his friend, Dorian Johnson, when the police had confronted him. A white police officer, Darren Wilson, had shot Brown at least six times while Brown was unarmed and his hands were up in the air. His body remained in the street for four hours.

Brown’s death caused a storm of outrage among the public and social media. People began marching with their hands up, in front of the police headquarters. They frequently shouted, “Hands up. Don’t shoot!” Protests, vandalism and looting lasted for more than a week. Public outrage got out of control shortly after this tragedy. Local police departments was supplied with military weapons to deal with rallies and protesters. Officers have arrested more than a dozen of protesters and used tear gas on them including journalists from Aljazeera. The FBI has started a civil rights investigation of the shooting. President Barack Obama has ordered to administer a proper investigation. At last, the grand jury decision refused to indict the police officer.

November 20, 2014:

Akai Gurley was unarmed in a dark stairwell in a housing project of East New York when office Peter Liang was doing a vertical patrol in the building and accidentally shot Gurley. The chief of NYPD, Bill Bratton, have claimed that Gurley was innocent . Later, office Liang was indicted in the dealth of Gurley.

November 22, 2014:

Tamir Rice, was a 12 year old boy who was shot and killed by the police in Cleveland, Ohio. He was spotted in the park holding a toy gun and after he was shot, the officers refused to provide any help and left Rice laying on the ground. His shooting was ruled a homicide.

My point of view:

Despite having a Black president ruling the country, Blacks are being targeted by the NYPD, more than ever. It’s a new form of racism, but in more depth. It’s a new form of elimination by the state and government. At this present time, black simply means criminality. Police officers are most skeptical towards the minorities. They’ve become more suspicious of those people and communities who are already discouraged and feel disadvantaged. Due to these long tragedies, no one feels safe anymore to live in these communities. The tragedy of Michael Brown reminds me of the Trayvon Martin shooting.

February 26, 2012:

Trayvon Martin, a 17 year old unarmed black male who was shot by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida. Martin was walking down the street at night and talking to his girlfriend in Bluetooth. That’s when a neighborhood watch, George Zimmerman felt suspicious and immediately called 911. He told the dispatcher “he is up to no good. He’s a black male.” The dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow Martin but he didn’t listen. He went after him and in a single shot, he killed Martin. And after many trials, he was not found guilty because he claimed it as a self defense.

My questions:

How do you call it self defense if the person whom you are defending yourself from is unarmed?

What kind of law permits to shoot an unarmed person only based on suspicion?

Is it appropriate to doubt and judge people based on their preference for wearing hoodie? For Ex. he’s black and he’s wearing a hoodie on his head, so he’s up to no good.

This leads me to another unfortunate example of racism and brutality.

March 2, 1991:

Rodney King, an African-American man who was driving his car in high speed  and he was chased by the Los Angeles police officers. After the officers surrounded him to stop, they beat him up brutally with their batons while he cringed into the ground. When he was being attacked repeatedly, the other officers stood silently without making any attempts to save him. However, a resident of the area named George Holliday, witnessed the beating and videotaped it from the balcony of his apartment. After a part of this clip was broadcasted, the public raged with anger in Los Angeles and other cities in America.

My final take on this:

The constant death of these unarmed black males have boosted racial tensions between the public and the government. These video clips has helped increase awareness about state control, discrimination, police brutality and social inequalities that still exists today. But sadly, the clips from Rodney King and Eric Garner also portrays that not much have changed in the last 20 years. Police had beaten King inhumanly 23 years ago and police have choked Garner to death 23 years later, at this present time. Blacks and minorities continues to deal with discrimination and racial profiling. NYPD Stop and frisk practice is just another example of police profiling based on color. In short, African Americans and minorities has struggled around the country for long and it seems obvious that they have to put in the extra effort to be accepted as opposed to other groups.

Click below to watch Garner’s clip:

Click below to see Rodney King’s clip:

Reference List:

1. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/12/12/3601771/people-police-killed-in-2014/
2. http://gawker.com/unarmed-people-of-color-killed-by-police-1999-2014-1666672349
3. http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/08/13/us/ferguson-missouri-town-under-siege-after-police-shooting.html?_r=0
5. http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/staten-island-man-dies-puts-choke-hold-article-1.1871486
6. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/mar/20/trayvon-martin-death-story-so-far

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