Long Needed Revolution: Police Brutality
Today, the issue of police brutality has become rampant in the US. Any cases of brutality by law enforcers are a serious violation of fundamental human rights and freedoms that need to be addressed urgently. The spread of social media and advancement of mobile technology have made it possible to make public some cases of such violations. Witnesses of police brutality have captured and posted on social media numerous videos with the intention of increasing awareness. The significant illustrations include the shooting of unarmed individuals, ruthless beatings, using shockers, and rough handling of those being arrested. Usually, the most affected victims of this brutality are people of color, in general, and the African-American community, in particular. The merciless and careless shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, for example, is considered to be among some of the most severe and contentious forms of police brutality in the contemporary times. It sparked protests across the US as the public showed their sharp disapproval of police brutality; it was a clear sign of the much-needed revolution in the area. This essay explicates police brutality as a long-standing issue that needs a major revolution to protect the innocent and unarmed civilians from associated harassment and premature deaths.
Police brutality requires a massive revolutionary strategy. Firstly, drastic action is required because today, the cases of such violations have risen to an abnormally high level. Kindy (2015) explains that the fatal shooting by police is approaching a shocking figure of 400 incidents a year. On the average, it is reported that in the US, the cases of police brutality occur at a rate of two cases a day (Kindy, 2015). This figure comprises the reported cases alone. In other words, it means that the figure could be even higher since some incidents go unreported. However, no case should not escape the public attention as these figures represent human lives that have been lost or damaged by the very people expected to protect Americans.
Secondly, the urgent revolutionary action is also necessary since the severity of these cases has become even more fatal. In most instances, these violations lead to tragic premature losses of lives because usually, the targets are youths. Kindy (2015) affirms that the case of Cary Ball Jr., who was shot 25 times despite his act of surrender, is a clear example of how severe the brutality of police has become. Christopher Harris is another victim. He ended up in a coma after being attacked by Mathew Paul, a sheriff deputy; his story further highlights the severity of police brutality. Thus, the revolutionary action is required in order to prevent this vile practice from being considered a normal occurrence. It is crucial to ensure that the police fulfill their duty of protecting the citizens.
The revolutionary philosophy to be implemented will focus on the aspect of the fair treatment of all individuals by the police irrespective of their sex, religious background, race, and social status. This philosophy must be guided by the philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., stated in his book, Why We Can’t Wait. For instance, King (2011) prophetically notes, “A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies.” Therefore, according to the activist, the strategy should target the change of values in the police force and the promotion of fairness and justice in the best way possible. His ideas can help in the clarification of this revolutionary stance by facilitating the formulation of the revolutionary philosophy that would automatically focus on the understanding of the current police behavior and the need to change their approach toward fairness and justice when dealing with individuals from varied racial backgrounds. The revolutionary philosophy would be set in such a way that it shapes a high level of inspiration in terms of dealing with the matters threatening human freedom and dignity.
The historical context of the considered issue demanding revolution goes back to the acts of oppression of individuals by police basically because of their racial backgrounds or social status. The specific point that started the revolution many years ago is the African-American Civil Rights Movement that tended to attract public attention to the high level of police brutality. The situation does not seem to have significantly changed because most victims of the current brutality are African Americans, especially unarmed ones. Back in the past, the Blacks tried to carry out non-violent protests under the auspices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; however, even today, they are attacked and terribly handled by the police. According to King (2011), the key instances underscoring this historical context include the brutality exhibited during the Birmingham campaign (1963-64) and the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965). Therefore, the revolution journey to the changes will still be inspired by the words by King (2011), “We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of unspeakable horrors of police brutality.” It means that giving up on this matter is not an option until the required level of fairness and justice are realized across all affected states and the country at large.
In order to change the present situation of police brutality against citizens, first, it is necessary to carry out required reforms relating to the authority given to the police. As the law enforcers, police officers have been given the power to accomplish their duties. However, Kindy (2015) asserts that it is the abuse of this power that brings about the issue of brutality. As part of the revolution, the law on the excessive powers of police officers would need to be changed in order to reflect the interests of all citizens.
Another relevant and necessary way of implementing this revolutionary change would entail bringing members of the public closer to the police. Chaney and Robertson (2013) explain that with the rise of cases of police brutality against common people, this relationship has been damaged excessively; therefore, a lot of repair work is required. When the relationship between these two parties is restored, trust and effective working relationships will be automatically achieved. It will put into effect the non-violent approach because a proper mood for negotiations will be set, and a middle-ground to address the matter will be established.
Stopping police brutality can be achieved through a number of ways. Using non-violent protest is a key strategy at the beginning of the revolution. Protesting is a means, through which the public can express their thoughts and feelings on any disturbing issue. It is also a way of getting the government involved so that the reforms can be developed and enforced. However, to riot without a purpose is not an opportunity. Rioting is only to be encouraged when peaceful ways have no success; in this case, the revolution can follow Malcolm X’s ideas. Malcolm X (1973) affirmed, “You don’t have a peaceful revolution. You don’t have a turn the cheek revolution. There’s no such thing as a nonviolent revolution.” It means that a proper mixture of violent and non-violent approaches should be applied in order to make the intention to overcome police brutality with a complete sense of promoting fairness and justice much clearer.
Secondly, eliminating police brutality can be achieved by increasing surveillance, in general. The aim can be achieved by increasing the number of street cameras, for example. This step will help reduce the cases of police brutality as recordings of any violations from their side can be used against an officer.
Thirdly, police officers will be given sensitivity training as another way of reducing police brutality. Police departments would be required to cooperate with psychologists in developing effective sensitivity programs to help law enforcers manage any hardships they face when in the field. These programs will cover such areas as stereotyping, self-esteem, and trauma of the job. It is also important to hold police departments accountable for any actions of their employees as it is an effective way of achieving the change since the reforms take place from the inside.
In order to make any successful change in the current issue of police brutality against civilians, it is imperative to begin this change with the individuals. This idea should become a motto and apply to both the police and the people. A deep personal desire of both parties to bring about the revolutionary change can reduce the current rates of police brutality. This philosophy goes in line with the words of Gandhi (2012), “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” According to this assertion, the change has to start with the proper training of the police at their departments before being sent out to the field to deal with civilians. When they manage to achieve change in themselves, they will be ready to change their approach to other people while maintaining the law and order.
Fighting against police brutality is crucial for improving life standards of Americans because it boosts citizens’ safety while minimizing any potential cases of unnecessary abuse through disorderly checks, arrests, beatings, and killings. Accordingly, individuals would be in a better position to go about their activities without any form of fear because of the trust they have to the police in terms of protecting their safety and ensuring they attain their objectives without unwarranted interference. In essence, this revolutionary change will contribute to the net human dignity by ensuring the fundamental rights and freedoms of all individuals are fully respected regardless of their racial or social backgrounds. It will give everyone an opportunity to enjoy life within the society without profiling and unfair targeting. The ideas of Malcolm X help understand the necessity of promotion of the net human dignity by the reduction of brutality. For instance, Malcolm X (1973) affirmed, “ We declare our right on this earth to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” These words directly mean that there would be an increased respect and understanding of what people really want in the society. Their dignity would be perfectly protected by securing desirable rights and freedoms of everyone without any form of restrictions from unnecessary quarters such as the police.
In conclusion, police brutality is not a new phenomenon in the United States as it dates back to the period of slavery and the Civil War. However, the issue must be addressed as soon as possible as it has caused considerable tension and split between the police and the public. It is also imperative to note that the revolutionary change with regard to this matter can only be achieved by the people themselves. The application of non-violent demonstrations preached by Martin Luther King Jr. and armed protests advocated by Malcolm X would set the ground for an effective revolution and ensure the issue receives a lasting solution that would protect every American in the future.