Police Brutality Against Hispanics and African Americans Term Paper

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Police Brutality

In recent years there has been an increase in the number of cases of police brutality reported. It is important to look at police brutality against Hispanics and African-Americans to gain a better understanding of this serious problem.

History of Brutality

The contrast between "law-abiding and lawless people is racialized, making the depreciation of liberty it legitimates equally racialized (Roberts, 1999)." This in turns creates a racist pattern of police brutality. The "social norm theory helps to explain why this pattern strikes most Americans as benign. Myths of Black criminality are so embedded in the white psyche that it seems perfectly natural to many Americans that Blacks are disproportionately stopped for traffic infractions, arrested for drug offenses, swept off the street for loitering, and sent to prison (Roberts, 1999)."

New York City's police department has a history of racial abuse. Police officials there report a decrease in crime rates, however they often fail to mention that "civilian complaints of police abuse has risen almost 40% since 1993 and the amount the city has paid to settle these claims has doubled (Roberts, 1999)." Between 1997 and 1998, out of the 45,000 people detained, only 9,500 were arrested. This illustrates the point that over 35,000 people were stopped for no reason, most of whom were African-American or Hispanic. Some of these innocent citizens have been the subjects of appalling "cases of police brutality which has heightened resentment toward the police and concerns about the city's policing police (Roberts, 1999)." survey in 1999 found that "43.8 million people - including people who called to report a crime - had contact with police and less than 1% experienced force or threats of force.
That figure was double, or 2%, among African-Americans and Hispanics. In most cases - 72% - people said officers pushed or grabbed them, while 15.3% said police pointed a gun at them, 10.2% claimed they were kicked or hit and 5.4% said they were sprayed with chemicals or pepper (www.enquirer.com/editions/2001/04/14/loc_federal_data_on.html)."

Past Cases

There have been a number of past cases of police brutality against African-Americans and Hispanics. One case involved an "elderly African-American couple from Pennsylvania, Charles and Etta Carter, who were stopped by Maryland State Police on their 40th wedding anniversary (Taslitz, 2003)." The couple had their car searched by troopers and drug-sniffing dogs, during which "their daughter's wedding dress was tossed onto one of the police cars and, as trucks passed on I-95, it was blown to the ground (Taslitz, 2003)." Due to fears of possible flight, the police denied Mrs. Carter's request to use the restroom. While the Carter's vehicle was searched, items which were removed were thrown along the highway, where they were "trampled and urinated on by the dogs (Taslitz, 2003)." After the couple was put through this ordeal, the police conceded they did not find any drugs, nor did they issue any type of citation.

Another case which occurred in April, 2001 involved "an unarmed teenager, Timothy Thomas, who was shot to death by Cincinnati police officers (Taslitz, 2003)." The shooting occurred as the officers were "pursuing Thomas on an outstanding arrest warrant for two alleged misdemeanors and numerous traffic offenses (Taslitz, 2003)." This….....

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