A whole new era of race equality seemed to be in sight with the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president. However, the killings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Trayvon Martin in Florida, as well as the violent arrest of Martese Johnson outside a local pub in Virginia are just three of the many cases of the severe mistreatment of African American’s by the police in the United States. Ironically enough, the immanent role of the people within the police force is keeping peace within communities by enforcing the law and preventing acts of misconduct, and yet it seems that the police force in the United States is abusing their rights as officers and taking law enforcement to a whole new dangerous level.
Martese Johnson was arrested by Alcoholic Beverage Control agents outside a Charlottesville’s pub. Photos and videos of his violent arrest circulated through social media and are what sparked protests by students at the University of Virginia. A statement from ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) claimed “uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached an unidentified individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment”; the agents described the behaviour of Johnson as agitated and belligerent. However, a witness stated that there was no reason for Johnson to be tackled because he was not showing any form of aggression. Johnson’s charges were obstruction of justice without force, as well as public swearing and intoxication. Governor McAuliffe from the Democratic governor’s office showed concern regarding the incident, and asked the secretary of public safety to carry out a Virginia State Police investigation specifically on their use and policies of force. Hours after the arrest, hundreds of students from the University of Virginia held a protest; demanding justice for Martese Johnson.
The brutal and unnecessary treatment by the police towards African Americans is not only an example of racism, but intolerance. It seems to be a trend for the police to keep an extra eye out for African American’s, or pay extra attention and feel the need for an unnecessary use of force, placing a gender stereotype on African American people. The racial profiling law known as “Stop & Frisk” gives the authority for any police officer to stop anyone on the street at any time, no matter how insignificant or significant the issue may be . Throughout the years 2006-2009, over three million of these stops took place, and within the three million, ninety percent of the people were male and of African American or Latino descent , which also proves acts of gender inequality. Statistics such as these prove the targeting of not only African Americans, but people of colour, and the male population of the United States. The majority of these people are innocent and have no reason to be treated in such a brutal manor. Reasons explaining the need for this behaviour may spark many debates and questions. Of course, drastic and aggressive measures must be taken if the person is exhibiting dangerous or threatening behaviour. Perhaps in the specific instances of the killings of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, and the violent arrest of Martese Johnson, the officers were racists and perhaps angry people, because not all officers exhibit the behaviour of the officers who performed these aggressive acts.
A solution to this problem may be to introduce stricter and clearer guidelines into the police force when it comes to the treatment of people when an arrest is taking place, and the police officers should be penalized if the guideline is broken. Of course there must already be some sort of guidelines in regards to this, but it is not stopping the brutality of officers towards African Americans and nothing seems to be done about it. Throughout the last half century, the violence against African Americans by the police has sparked many instances of civil outrage and protests. Recent protests have the aim of the reform of police practices and policies, but they have yet to instigate a nationwide change of police reform. If this can be accomplished, the lives of innocent youth such as Trayvon and Michael and the safety of Martese may be saved and protected, and the oppression of these innocent people may be stopped.
“Stop Police Brutality Against Black People.” Change.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Apr. 2015.