How Do We Make The Issue Of Police Brutality A Campaign Stump Issue?

September 29, 2014  |  

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According to this report on the website Firedoglake.com, at least twenty-three people have been killed in the United States while in police custody in the past week.

This list includes:

  • Charles Smith, who according to published reports, was shot by an officer after handcuffed, placed in the back of the patrol car in Savannah, Georgia. According to reports, cops allege Smith was able to somehow move his arms to the front of his body, kicked out the patrol car window and reached for a gun. That’s why the cop had to shoot him four times, including a shot in the leg, head and back.
  • Kimberlee King, an African-American woman, was arrested in Pagedale, Missouri for traffic warrants and was later found hanging in her cell. Police said she did it herself however her family, who found out she was dead upon arriving to bond her out, say” King was not suffering from any sort of depression and had no history of mental illness.”
  • Cameron Tillman, a 14 year old Black teen from Terrebonne Parrish, Louisiana, who was shot and killed by a policeman while playing in an abandoned home. According to reports, Tillman answered a knock at the door when he was shot point blank by the officer, upon him opening the door. The cops say he had a BB gun, which looked like a real weapon. However His brother, who was with him at the time, said Tillman had no toy or real weapon in his hand at the time the officer gunned him down.

It’s hard to tell if these killings were justified; but in the wake of a number of highly publicized questionable police actions, it’s also very understandable (and advisable I might add) if these incidents give one pause. And at the very least, we have to acknowledge that there are way too many police killings period – “justified” or not.

There is some debate about whether police brutality is on the rise again. It’s especially hard to figure out considering the Department of Justice or FBI does not keep and provide stats on departmental conduct. Some argue that it’s the availability of cellphone cameras and other recording equipment that have made us more aware of what have been some massive breaches and violations of both constitutional and civil rights against the citizens, particularly Black people. And that is a good thing.

The not so good thing is that while modern technology has done wonders to open our eyes about just how pervasive police brutality and misconduct is in this country, the reality is that you can videotape, audio record, take a picture, write it down, and have all the evidence you want against the police, and Internal Affairs, the grand jury, and the rest of law enforcement will conclude that the offending officer did nothing wrong. That your harassment or even death was just a result of procedure.

As noted in this article from a couple of months ago in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, cops accused of using questionable, deadly force are rarely convicted. And in fact, an expert tells the paper that the reason behind the poor conviction rates is that the Supreme Court specifically gives police “wider discretion” in self-defense claims than would the average citizen.

Well as an average citizen, I say that is pure malarky. I am a firm believer that cops should not have a wider discretion but rather as enforcers of the rule of law, police should have an even greater responsibility of caution Likewise, those who violate laws they are bound to uphold should be prosecuted worse than the average criminal. And since it seems that a sizable chunk of addressing police brutality and misconduct is a matter of some paperwork (and by that I mean policies, procedures and existing laws), then obviously it is the rules and procedures which need changing and monitoring.

And that brings me to my question: why hasn’t the issue of police brutality been a major stump issue, particularly for the Black political community?

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  • jack_sprat2

    Go to YouTube and take a course in “The Decline and Fall of the City of Detroit”. That’s what NO ‘broken windows’ policy got you. Literally, nothing BUT broken windows, broken streetlights, broken communities, broken families, and broken dreams. I’ve watched the people of that City pull down around themselves the walls of their own house, deliberately, over the past 40 years. They started by throwing concrete and bowling balls onto the cars of suburban commuters. They threw rebar over twenty-foot fences at the old Chrysler World HQ, onto the employees’ cars, FOR YEARS, until an improving economy permitted their best employees to flee to other companies whereupon the company had NO CHOICE but to take those jobs to the suburbs. The small stuff matters. People with choices leave chaos, leaving behind the hopeless and the desperate.

  • TNHarley Version 2.0

    Evidence Smhevidence
    What is the point of evidence if it doesn’t even matter? You guys need to face it, Wilson was defending himself. If you would look at the GJ proceedings, you might get a whiff of logic, reasoning and fact. Sure, brutality happens, but this ISNT the poster boy. You are hurting your own cause. SMH

  • FreeOregon

    Psychologically we move toward and become like that we think about. If we think about and complain about police brutality we’ll get – more police brutality.

    Suppose instead we think about and seek politically to establish Peace Keeping Departments. Unarmed. We recruit people who are unafraid if unarmed. We recruit people who demonstrate empathy and the ability to relate to others. We remove from the established police more and more tasks. We do this as quickly as possible without creating confrontations (force, counterforce, threats, violence – all of which we abhor0 We give those tasks to the new Peace Keepers until – there’s little or nothing to be done that requires force or the threat of violence.

    Try it. Think about it. There’s a solution here.

    • jack_sprat2

      I’ll watch from a safe distance. Europe, perhaps. No, too many Muslims blowing up things and killing cartoonists and such. Thailand it is. Or, Costa Rica.

      • FreeOregon

        With the War Cycle peaking in 2020 and the Civil Unrest Cycle, in 2017, I’m not sure anywhere on earth is safe. These cycles are worldwide.

  • Native Born American

    The issue of police brutality cant’t be fixed politically. It will only change when citizens start holding these cops and their departments accountable by dishing out the same payment as the corrupt cops. Only then will they realize the war they’ve been waging on the American people.

    Unfortunately, many cops will need to die at the handle of patriots before these public servants once again submit to their citizen masters. As Thomas Jefferson said, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

  • davidusromanus

    Police unions are very strong. Any candidate espousing police accountability will have an uphill climb because of that. However some suggestions have recently come up to help with that issue. Body cams are one. Another is accountability for lawsuits. As of now, all police misconduct lawsuits are paid for by the taxpayers. To make them accountable, any police person who causes their municipality to pay out damages from a lawsuit should have 10% of their pay/pension deducted until they pay back the whole amount (or die first in the case of large awards). Each successive misconduct lawsuit would cause another 10% to be deducted. So even if cops who commit crimes are not convicted, they will soon have to modify their behavior or quit their job. The lesser way to hold them accountable is to require lawsuit insurance. The basic rate is paid by their employer. Any increases in the insurance rate because of misconduct is paid by the individual cop. Either of these ways will not require a national movement, but only enough concerned and active citizens of any particular municipality. Just elect a mayor and/or town council who will require one of these solutions in their next union contract.

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  • Lineysha S

    When more black people start going to the polls and voting, then maybe we will see some changes. You can’t complain if you’re not doing anything about the situation. One great example of this is Ferguson, Missouri. WE have to help OURSELVES! MJ sang it best “All I wanna say is that they don’t really care about us”

    • *Star*Bryte*

      good point!! get out and vote for the locals in your area, they are the ones that affect how you live in your area . . .

  • PigStateNews

    At least 818 people have been killed by U.S. police since January 1, 2014.
    At least 1570 have been killed since May 1, 2013.
    Source: Police reports via news reports posted to Killed By Police on Facebook.

    • jack_sprat2

      Every last one of them an angelic, 292-lb. strong arm robber with a bully complex and anger issues, with nicknames like ‘Gentle Giant’.

  • DoinMe

    LOL!!! Why hasn’t ANYTHING been a “stump” issue for us?? We don’t play politics, we just let isht happen to us and then we call Al. Police brutality is one many, MANY issues that we should be fighting for. In order to tackle police brutality, the first thing that has to be eliminated is the Police Bill of Rights. Blacks should campaign around getting this abolished.