Who Wins the Battle?
Every day we are locked in a battle with our own law enforcement. The same cops that promise to provide public safety, peace and support by providing assistance during emergencies, crisis and life threatening situations has now become a threat to us. This battle that we are confined in most of us do not win and if we are lucky enough we’ll make it out alive. If we are even luckier than that we will make it out without suffering from a long-term psychological disorder that can only be alleviated by Prozac, Zoloft and other addictive antidepressants that’ll wear off within the next few hours but we’ll be forced to take another dosage as a way of escaping. Escaping the everyday brutality our police officers direct towards us as they continue to beat and kill victims.
This battle starts off with police candidates who receive training and are given guidelines on using force prior to their employment. However, even the best training cannot change the core personalities that some of these officers have and the repercussion of this is the engagement in brutal behavior that injures and cause the death of suspects. These brutal behaviors come from cops frequent use of excessive force even when suspects do not demonstrate that they need it to regulate them. The term “excessive force” has yet to be exactly defined but according to an article from U.S Legal, “Excessive force is the use of force greater than that which a reasonable and prudent law enforcement would use under the circumstances is generally considered to be excessive.”
Most people know who takes the lost when it comes to this battle with our law enforcement. According to Mapping Police Violence, a research collaborative website that contains information on police killings nationwide, the estimated number of people killed in the United States in 2014 due to police brutality was 1,149 and so far in 2015, 1,046 cases has been reported according to the Guardian . These statistics demonstrate that the amount of people being killed each year is rapidly growing as the statistics in 2015, is very close to the numbers reported in 2014 with the full month of December remaining. Not only do our law enforcement boasts around their badges and weapons but abuse their authority as they resort to using excessive force on suspects that leave them permanently injured but in most cases dead.
As our police officers continue to engage in these brutal behaviors they aren’t only injuring and killing suspects but they degrade and dehumanize them as well. According to No Bullying, an online forum aimed at educating and advising to stop bullying, “When an officer dehumanizes their victim, it helps them to avoid feelings of guilt when it comes to using violence.” The online forum goes into further explanation on how dehumanizing victims make officers feel. Cops tend to avoid the feelings of guilt, by convincing themselves that the object of their actions are less than human. This results in officers feeling better about hurting suspects when they are beating, choking and killing them. Never do they take full responsibility for their actions, instead they might make an ignorant remark such as “They deserved it!”
Police brutality is continuing throughout the United States and shows how training isn’t effective on our officers as they beat, kill and dehumanize victims and in most cases direct the brutality towards minorities through racial profiling. Often when the topic of police brutality is discussed, many find it impractical to avoid the topic of race and how the legal system is bias towards minority cases of brutality. Unfortunately, many cases prove this bias such as Eric Garner who was placed in a choke-hold and killed, Michael Brown who was shot and killed and the infamous Rodney King who was severely beaten. All these cases of brutality were done by white officers on unarmed African-American men. Although racism isn’t the only factor in many cases of police brutality, the outcome has a serious impact on the African-American community and all who have to witness it.
However, police brutality doesn’t stop at the amount of people who are targeted and killed from it. Sadly, it goes beyond that. Still to this day, I hear children say they want to become police officers when they grow up because they have a job of preventing crime and keeping everyone safe. They dress in cool uniforms, make a lot of money (on average a decent salary of about $56,260 a year) and are allowed to carry a gun (a Glock 22 to be exact). I’m sure none of these younger children are aware of how dangerous cops can be as they sometimes abuse their authority. Once again, this is known as police brutality which is the deliberate use of excessive force that is physical, by law enforcement. As we all know and witness that in most cases of this brutal behavior, victims normally end up dead. However, the very few who survive the beatings end up with psychological disorders that can be treated but not cured.
The long-term effects of brutality aren’t always immediate and obvious (unless it involves suspects being killed instantly). It takes plenty of doctor visits before victims can be diagnosed with a psychological trauma that is a result of brutal behavior enacted by a cop. However, when victims are identified with a specific illness it is primarily Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a serious psychiatric disorder that normally occurs from life threatening situations which makes sense as to why most victims of police brutality develop it. It is not an immediate illness which means it can take years before it unfolds for some people or it can begin right after a frightening event. The symptoms of PTSD is hallucinations, flashbacks, lost of interest, outburst of anger, irritability and insomnia which can sometimes be confused with other illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Schizophrenia that have the same effects. Unfortunately, PTSD cannot be cured but it can be treated by a variety of medications like Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, etc that control the feelings of anxiety. In most cases therapy is highly recommended to help victims cope with their issues but most do not take advantage of it as a result of lost of interest.
The real impact is on the emotional and social lives of the victims of abuse and trauma, like this commenter on Copblock who states: “…please stop victimizing people especially when they are rendered as defenseless it is not necessary. Bullying is NOT allowed in our schools and it most CERTAINLY should not be tolerated on the streets especially by authority that we are supposed to be able to depend on.” This commenter suffers from PTSD, frequent anxiety attacks and is borderline agoraphobic (type of anxiety disorder, in which the victim fear and often avoid places that might cause them to feel embarrassed or trapped) all because of an attack by cops that should have never taken place. Before encountering this, she made it clear that she instilled all her trust into the law enforcement as she believed that they had a job of protecting people not hurting them. Now this victim is left with living in fear sun up to sun down which impacts her emotionally and mentally as she is unable to live a normal life because she is afraid of what others are capable of doing to her. After all the police who are supposed to protect her didn’t hesitate to beat her down. What makes her think a stranger off the street won’t attempt to do the same?
Unfortunately, police brutality goes beyond shooting a victim in the head and leaving them dead on the ground. It leaves suspects who survived the brutal beatings and even bullet wounds, left to live a hopeless life in fear. Not many people who suffer from PTSD or other anxiety disorders, come out to the public and speak on the battle they lost to law enforcement because of the humiliation it brings. Instead, the people who suffer mentally and emotionally from these incurable disorders are left to suffer alone.
During this battle, police officers lack accountability as they will typically say they used excessive force on suspects because of the attempt to resist arrest and putting the officers in danger. This could be done by fleeing when arrested, life-threatening remarks, fighting back or using profanity when addressing cops. When suspects demonstrate any of those behaviors, law enforcement now has the permission to control suspects and that is done by using brutal behavior. In the United States, resisting arrest is a criminal charge and police officers have the right to use excessive force on suspects who can’t demonstrate self-control and follow arrest procedures. Typical arrest procedures include asking the name of the suspect, date of birth, where the suspect is from and the suspect’s side of the story. However, if the excessive force is used to control suspects who haven’t demonstrated resisting arrest and causes GBI or great bodily harm (physical injuries) to them, they now have the right to use self-defense against law enforcement. That’s if they get to it before the cops do.
On July 17, 2014, Eric Garner spoke his final words on a city block in Staten Island, New York “I can’t breathe!” Garner was well known in the area for selling untaxed cigarettes nearby the Staten Island Ferry Terminal and was arrested twice and charged with circumventing state tax law earlier that same year. However, on this specific day police officers Justin Damico and Daniel Pantaleo took it entirely too far as they immediately recognized Garner and attacked before questioning or before Garner could give signs of resisting arrest. Unarmed Garner’s life was taken at the bare hands of white officer Pantaleo as a result of a chokehold that was recorded by multiple people on the streets of Staten Island. While the officer continued to choke Garner who was supposedly “resisting arrest,” many heard his cry for help as the unarmed man yelled “I can’t breathe!” Instead of releasing Garner from the chokehold, Officer Pantaleo and other officers who were at the scene left him handcuffed and motionless on the ground without instantly seeking proper medical attention. Before videos were released of the chaos that took place most people had no idea how Garner’s death took place or if the police were the reason behind it.
Law enforcement will always win the battle that we are confined to. It is sad to know the same officers who have a job of protecting us and keeping peace are the same officers who exhibit brutal behaviors. If it doesn’t involve choking the life out of a suspect or beating them until they are black and blue in the face, there is a funeral honoring the life of a suspect who was recently murdered by police officers. The very few who survive the tragedies, are left with permanent scars, that can be both physical or mental. Many have faith in our law enforcement, believing the brutal behaviors can be stopped if they are willing to take accountability and follow typical arrest procedures. Until that happens, we will always take the knockout.
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“One Troubling Statistic Shows Just How Racist America’s Police Brutality Problem Is.”Mic. Web. 26 Oct. 2015.
“Police Brutality: 5 Things You Didn’t Know|NoBullying|.” NoBullyingBullying CyberBullying Resources. 30 Jan. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
“25 Shocking Facts About the Epidemic of Police Brutality in America.” Mic. Web. 13 Nov. 2015
“The Counted: People Killed By Police in the US.” The Guardian. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” WebMD. WebMD. Web. 3 Nov. 2015.
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Baker, Al, J. Goodman, and Benjamin Mueller. “Beyond the Chokehold: The Path to Eric Garner’s Death.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 13 June 2015. Web. 10 Nov. 2015.
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“What Procedures Must the Police Follow While Making an Arrest? – FindLaw.” Findlaw. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.