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History of Black Lives Matter

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Sociology
Wordcount: 3575 words Published: 5th Aug 2019

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The big problem among police officers and African Americans are the issues of prejudice and racism that African Americans have been facing for many decades. African Americans are victims of a society that may never stop or change. More specifically, there have been an disproportionate number of African Americans deaths at the hands of those to serve and protect its citizens. Police officers have a sworn civic duty, which includes performing and upholding their duties but do not always play by the same rules. Therefore, it brings us to face yet another problem among African American people. Who is to blame or who should be responsible for problems that they face because of skin color?


    Sometimes in life, wanting to do the right thing, but being too scared and feeling that by speaking up about a situation would turn out for the worst these actions may place the person speaking up in an awkward position.  Imagine being out late night, and it is also a Friday night. Now it is time to decide to head home from a family function which carried on over until the next morning, you are traveling home using back roads that are not so well lit. Now, there is also car trouble, this could not be a better night right? Thoughts about turning around, but at this point, one must proceed and try to make it. Suddenly there are lights seen in the rearview mirror, thinking that it is just in passing so you keep driving along; lights are now blinding the view to drive out of nowhere, red and blue lights start flashing, do you pull over or do you keep driving?


This paper will address the following information (1). Problems African- Americans face interacting with police officers (2). Police brutality used against African- Americans (3).Racial profiling among African -Americans (4). The amount of force that is used People, should not be judged by the color their skin, but by who they are as an individual. We as human beings in this world try to put their trust into the ones who love doing their job as officers protecting citizens.  What about the police officers who see race as a problem in their line of work.  Police officers, who commit brutality, using excessive force, should face punishment and not get away with it. The perception that police officers are above the law creates a lack of trust in minority communities.

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    A reflection is only an image of what many African- Americans see. So, staring racial discrimination in face, African Americans see themselves as no other than a human being that wants to live life among the world without being discriminated against. According to the text, “discrimination is defined as action based on prejudiced thought and biases. Increasingly, researchers in the social science field contend that all people have preferences and that they are largely out of our awareness”. (Shusta, 2015) In the article “How Black Americans See Discrimination,” the author presents a study how “92% of the blacks that participated in the survey reported that they feel discrimination still exists among African Americans when they have some type encounters with police”. NPR (2017, October 25).  Racial discrimination is an underlying issue that many races deal with, that needs to vanish.


Throughout early American history African-Americans have been discriminated against dating back before slavery time along with the Jim Crow in modern history. Why do African Americans face discrimination, on the other hand, why does it still exist? Does one think the criminal justice system treats whites and blacks equally?  As reported by Ryan “a majority of whites (53%) say they are confident police treat whites and blacks equally in the United States vs. a majority of blacks (57%) who say they are “not confident at all.” (Struvk, 2017) The article “TAKING FREEDOM: YES, BLACK AMERICA FEARS THE POLICE. HERE’S WHY,” states some key point on why African Americans face problems with law enforcement.

(1). Policing is “the most enduring aspect of the struggle for civil rights,” because it has always been a mechanism for racial control. (2) Historically, in both the South and the North, the police have defended and enforced racism and segregation. (3). Black people often see police as the face of larger systems of inequality in the justice system, employment, education, and housing.  Hannah-Jones, N (2018, April 10) Discrimination is a topic that everyone is familiar with but only a few will take out the time to speak on it and what they have endured. Discrimination is an unpleasant fact. Civil Rights Act – A federal law enacted to enforce and protect basic personal rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution; prohibits discrimination based on race, color, age, or religion. Equal Protection Clause – A clause in the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that prohibits any state from denying any person the equal protection of the law. FindLaw (2018)

   Looking at the past and the present, has time changed amongst law enforcement being in contact with African-Americans experiencing police brutality? Police brutality is defined as one of several forms of police misconduct, which involves extreme violence, by police members. The African American race continues to play a role in their treatment throughout the US with law enforcement because many officers who do commit police brutality are getting away with it, which should be facing criminal charges. Law enforcement has one of the most dangerous jobs in the workforce and being alert, and cautious is not the problem but how can you trust them when they are living just as dangerous as the criminal that’s in the Police brutality is a violation of the law. “Cruel and unusual punishments” by the state (police) are prohibited by the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. According to Professor Lyle Perry”, “approximately 50 percent of the 14,800 police agencies do not report police involved homicide statistics to the FBI- UCR.”

The Law

 The Fourteenth Amendment provides further protection to individuals, prohibiting the state from depriving “any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” (USLEGAL.Com)There are laws and court decisions that help govern police conduct. It is required that law enforcement officers be knowledgeable of laws their state and supreme court’s decision and understand as well as abide by these rules that are put in place to help them apply the laws to their job duties when dealing with people in society. Even though knowing the laws, police officers they take an oath to uphold the law, but yet still somehow take the matter into their own hands and use misconduct and commit police brutality. According to the case, Tennessee v Garner in 1974 a young black male only in the 8th grade was shot in the back and killed by Memphis police. Garner did not show any physical harm or non-violent activity that the police accused him of doing.

 Another example, for instance, what about the Rodney King riot? King was brutality beaten by Los Angeles police officers for a speeding ticket and became a symbol of racial tension in America. King, was beaten repeatedly, which did not take the news quickly to spread across the world.  The four officers faced charges in Kings beating including assault with a deadly weapon.  Being a victim of such will always stay with a person; how one can forget what they have encounter leaving physical and emotional scars that can never go away.  Personally, seeing it this way sometimes police officers take it far which then starts violating the rights of citizens.

Racial Profiling

What is racial profiling? According to (NOBLE) the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement “it is any police-initiated action that relies on the race, ethnicity, or national origin rather than on the behavior of an individual or on information that leads the police to a particular individual who has been identified as being, or having been engaged in criminal activity” (Shusta, 2015). In other words, many times people judge without even knowing the other individual, perhaps by the color of your skin. How can we try to teach our younger generation and children not to judge others and yet it is being done on an everyday basis by law enforcement; yes, it is easier said than done for the most individuals. Shusta also mentions that enforcement used by officers is to look for characteristics that indicate the probability of criminal acts or factors that tend to correlate with dangerous or threating behavior (Shusta, 2015).


The text states racial disparities and prejudices affect the way in which minorities receive treatment by the criminal system. Examples of this phenomenon are typically in the use of racial profiling in law enforcement and in the differences in the rates of arrest, conviction, and sentencing between whites and minorities and people of color. (Shusta, 2015) There has always been racial profiling for decades with race but for African Americans, the percentage has always been higher than any other race. Information states that (1). African-American/Black drivers are twice as likely (4.5% vs. 2.1%) profiled or arrested during a traffic stop. (The Leadership Conference) (2). Whites/Caucasians are twice more likely to receive a verbal warning for their conduct in a vehicle when compared to Blacks/African-Americans (The Leadership Conference) (3). As a motorist Blacks/African Americans vehicles are susceptible to a search during a stop, compared to Whites/Caucasians. Hispanics are 2.5 times more likely to a search during a police stop compared to Whites/Caucasians. (The Leadership Conference) (4). The probability of being black, unarmed, and shot by police is about 3.49 times the probability of being white, unarmed, and shot by police on average. (Vanity Fair) (5). When factoring in threat levels, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are less likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police. (Washington Post/ Vanity Fair) (6).In four states in the US, police officers are more likely to stop Black drivers for no discernible reason. They are also more likely to use force if the driver is Black, even when physical resistance does not occur. (New York Times) (7). The NYPD conducted 4.4 million stop and frisk searches between January 2004 and June 2012 before the practice was determined to be a violation of Constitutional rights. Out of those 88% stop and frisk searches resulted in no further action. Now, 83% of those who stopped were either Black or Hispanic, even though the two groups combined make up less than half of the population in the city. (Vanity Fair) (8). In Los Angeles, the Black stop rate is 3,400 stops higher than the White stop rate, while the Hispanic stop rate was almost 360 stops higher per 10,000 residents. (The Leadership Council) (Vittana.org)

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 The Fourth Amendment Prohibition stand on unreasonable searches and seizures is not a violation when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him or her without probable cause to arrest, which decisions were made by the United States Supreme Court against Terry v Ohio 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Findlaw.com (2018) Just recognizing right from wrong brings me to the Trayvon Martin case. Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old unarmed teenager that in the wrong place at the wrong time and was racially profiled and killed as he walked home through a gated community. Located in this community, the neighborhood watches out coordinator George Zimmerman, age 28 followed Martin and soon approached him while dialing 911. Zimmerman was instructed not to follow Trayvon but continued and ignored the dispatch orders.

 Zimmerman stated to police that Martin looked suspicious and the two became involved in an altercation, which leads to Martin receiving a fatal shot in the chest of 2012.  Zimmerman defense to the case was the “stand your ground law” he was charged but also acquitted. NPR (2012, July 31) another example of racial profiling is the Sandra Bland case. Texas state trooper Brian Encinia pulled over Sandra Bland for failing to use her turn signal. The tension between Bland and Encinia escalated verbally and physically, and Encinia arrested Bland. Encinia gave false information on how he removed Bland from her vehicle.

Three days after her arrest a report states that Bland had committed suicide or did something else take place that caused her death. Encinia, was later indicted on charges of perjury and lost his employment. NPR (2016, January 6) Facing racial profiling as an experience one day my boyfriend and I was heading to the hospital coming out of my complex which is a black community that is known for drug activities and all kind of violence.

Personal Experience

Speaking as an African American, not everyone that is black sells or consumes drugs and not involved with criminal activity.  We proceeded to head out of to the hospital before getting out of the area, having to pull over because of police lights. As the officer approached the car, they asked for the proper documents and stated that the tint on car was the reason for the stop. I was not driving because of not feeling good my boyfriend did not have any license moments later they ask him to step out the car, and he was placed in hands cuffs which were believed because he does have a criminal record. After running my name in the system, then asked to step, knowing my record is clean, and thoughts to myself “all this for tinted windows.”

 Following several moments, after placed in handcuffs it was at least six other police cars at the scene along with a dog. Now, being told that the dog had sniffed drugs out in my car, which was not true. We were both were let go after being humiliated in front of everyone and after the dogs did not find anything. My passenger received a ticket for not having a license, and then it was told to drive and have a nice day. At that time, there was a sense of myself being a victim of racial profiling because of the car tint for being too dark. However, not receive a ticket for it, made me feel like we should have been charged with (D.W.B) driving while black. Racial profiling can become a useful tool, or it can become a tool that is immediate, harm, and kill.

Safety is something to apply to everyone being able to keep yourself out of harm’s way. According to the article mapping, police violence states just alone this year alone the police officers have taken 852 lives. Police killed 1,147 people in 2017 and Black people were 25% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population. Sinyangwe (2018, September) When seeing these numbers does it affect a person in any kind of way or so they see it as officers doing their job? Its mind blowing, it makes you wonder are law enforcement taught anything other than to shoot and kill and use excessive force.

Case Study

What is excessive force? The term ‘excessive force’ not precisely defined; however, the use of force greater than which a reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer would use under the circumstances generally considered excessive. Law enforcement has to gain control over the situation but with doing so, once secured is it right to continue to use excessive force.  According to the text when “excessive force is used by a police officer, the conduct of the police often comes under public scrutiny and will receive attention from the media, the community, and legislators”. “A police officer’s actions can result in lawsuits if members of the public feel someone has been treated with unnecessary physical or deadly force”. (Shusta, 2015, pg.172)  Therefore, it is hard to clarify if you are doing your job or violating a person rights an example is looking at the Eric Garner case.

Garner died at the bare hands of officers for selling cigarettes illegally in Staten Island. The NYPD policer by the name of Daniel Pantaleo tackled Garner from behind and placed him in a chokehold position and chest compression while arresting him. Garner started to complain of breathing complications, and he did not receive the immediate medical attention. He later pronounced dead at the scene.  Garner was a chronic bronchial asthma patient, which did not help him while trying to fight to breathe. Meanwhile, officer denied choking Garner at all, but the medical examiner office report stated the cause of death was compression of the neck, compression of chest and prone positioning during physical restraint by police, which left his lifeless body dead on the sidewalk. Mark Morales. (2018, July 22) Excessive force is an issue that is heavily among minority communities.


In conclusion, everyone is entitled to his or her own beliefs, spiritual values and most of all their own opinions on how they view one another. Adult’s citizens need to educate their children to fight against racial profiling and any race-related incidents in the future. It is hard to forget what African-Americans went through let alone what the children of the future have will endure. Not focusing on what they are continuously going through as individuals from the officers, we trust to serve and protect us. Never judge a book by its cover, color is just a color and everyone deserves a chance in life. “People, I just want to say, can’t we all get along? Can’t we all get along?” (Rodney King).


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