The newest reminder that cops across the nation routinely deny Black folks their constitutional rights comes from the Justice Division. This time, it’s about Minneapolis, the positioning of a police officer’s video-recorded homicide of resident George Floyd.
Greater than three years after Floyd’s brutal loss of life and the worldwide protest motion that sprang from it, a June 2023 Justice Division report discovered that Minneapolis police use extreme drive, together with unjustified lethal drive of their interactions with civilians, and discriminate in opposition to Black folks.
The report echoes Justice Division findings, launched in March 2023, about police misconduct in Louisville, Kentucky, the place officers killed Breonna Taylor throughout an illegal search of her residence in March 2020, and about police in Ferguson, Missouri, in a report launched in March 2015. An officer shot and killed Michael Brown, who was unarmed, throughout a 2014 encounter.
The Justice Division discovered that Minneapolis police additionally discriminate in opposition to Native Individuals; routinely use extreme drive, together with “unreasonable use of tasers”; violate the rights of residents exercising their First Modification proper to free speech; take part in racially discriminatory stops in opposition to Black folks and Native Individuals; and discriminate in opposition to folks with critical psychological diseases.
As a geographer and scholar of African American research, I’ve written about racist policing for The Dialog earlier than. So, I struggled to discover a new technique to study the subject this time round. And that led me to the enduring query: Why is racial discrimination by police so widespread in america?
Policing in black and white
The proof is overwhelming. Numerous research have proven that Black individuals are routinely stopped by police and reside in racially segregated communities that police closely monitor. These circumstances have led to Black folks being overrepresented in arrests for violent crime that doesn’t contain a fatality.
Police physique digicam footage exhibits officers communicate disrespectfully to Black folks throughout visitors stops; about 4 of each 10 Black folks say police have unfairly stopped them; and Black individuals are greater than thrice as prone to be killed by police throughout interactions. These experiences clarify why Black folks have detrimental views of police.
For white Individuals, nevertheless, their emotions and interactions with the police are extra optimistic. For example, solely 1 / 4 of white folks surveyed report being in conditions the place they imagine police had been suspicious of them. In the meantime, 78% really feel police defend folks from crime; 75% say police use the correct quantity of drive and that they deal with folks of colour and white folks equally; and 70% of white Individuals really feel police are held accountable for his or her misconduct.
These experiences clarify why white Individuals usually tend to give police excessive marks – 75% – for job efficiency.
These variations affect how race shapes folks’s interactions with police. African Individuals have detrimental views of police due to previous and private expertise. Many white folks have extra optimistic views formed by residing on their facet of the colour line.
Experiences form folks’s views
The truth that Black and white Individuals have totally different views on the police are usually not accidents.
This actuality is constructed on a protracted historical past of police concentrating on folks of colour. Certainly, policing in america was established on the apply of controlling particular populations. Within the nineteenth century, for instance, policing within the South was designed to watch the motion of enslaved Black folks. A few of the first police forces within the nation had been developed to maintain the enslaved from escaping and to recapture them in the event that they did. They had been known as slave patrols, and by legislation, some states required white males to function slave patrollers.
Policing and controlling the actions of particular nonwhite teams have usually gone hand in hand. This highly effective cocktail of racism and policing has enabled brutal types of violence in opposition to folks of colour.
In every case, police discriminated in opposition to Black folks within the South, Mexicans and Mexican Individuals within the Southwest and the Irish within the North, whereas treating white Southerners, white Southwesterners and the center and higher lessons within the North otherwise. The parallels to this second are usually not an accident. And neither is police misconduct.
Policing the way in which it was meant
The Justice Division’s report will place the practices of the Minneapolis Police Division underneath public scrutiny. And it is going to be a part of the mountain of research, complaints and federal experiences that present widespread racial discrimination.
That stated, with the lengthy historical past of how policing started and the way concentrating on teams was a part of its basis, together with the research that doc it, what’s obvious is that police misconduct will not be an aberration. Regardless of claims of serving and defending the general public, that’s merely not what the police have at all times executed.
It’s no surprise, then, that so many individuals imagine racial discrimination is endemic to policing and is solely a part of the way in which it really works. And whereas this most up-to-date Justice Division report exhibits that, it additionally makes the case that Minneapolis police are working the way in which they had been meant.
If that is so, then Black folks’s denial of primary constitutional ensures by legislation enforcement, enshrined in our nation’s founding paperwork, is, to cite the abolitionist Fredrick Douglass, a “shameless hypocrisy.”