[I]n the last three years, we have learned and read the articles about the wrongful and unfortunate deaths of Trayvon Martin, Chris Garner, and Michael Brown. So while the country’s outrage is at the forefront of every influential news outlet, the question that keeps arising is how thoroughly do we really know the justice system?
In a scientific report distributed earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice focused on the Arrest-Related Deaths (ARD) program.
The paper is a yearly national census of people who either die during the process of apprehension or while in the custody of state or local law enforcement personnel.
Data pulled from the Bureau of Justice Statistics concluded that during these years, nearly 5,000 people died in the United States soon as they were being arrested or apprehended. The report highlights any deaths occurring in the process of detention from the year 2003 through 2009 and 2011.
Out of the 98 million arrests during the period, almost 95% of those arrested were male. Approximately 42% were white, 32% were African-American and 20% were Hispanic.
A variety of states neglected to chronologically report the actual number of arrested-related deaths.
Georgia did not furnish the Bureau with any death reports during the entire eight-year period. Wyoming presented death reports for just one year during this time.
No state within the 15 that were studied gave uniform reports for any of the years.
[F]ull-time law student at North Carolina Central University, Fiona Colin thinks preparation and knowledge of the law are the keys when protecting the rights of all men.
“Warn them. Give them advice, look at the past and current situations that have happened and allow that to be your guidance moving forward,” Colin told CollegeHipHop.com.
Since America’s inception, the leaders of this nation have publicly displayed a positive and liberating disposition when it comes to the well-being of men. There is no better example of this patriotic zeal than the United States Constitution.
The preamble states: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
However, who were the subjects that were protected by those passages in the Constitution? When this historic document was written in 1787, African-Americans were sold as property and considered to be only 3/5 of a person.
Now its 228-years later and the United States’ first African-American president, Barack Obama, and the first lady are regularly disrespected. They are commonly referred as ‘terrorists’ and ‘chimpanzees’ in the media.
Here is the question: will the black and brown people born and raised in this country ever actually be afforded lawfully equal treatment?
Is the U.S. so far gone that the principles on which it stands, are in today’s world long forgotten? Like the unspoken names of the hundreds of black men who are harassed, stopped and frisked and killed?
Desyree Colon, a New York City Correctional Officer, said her city’s highly debated ‘Stop and Frisk’ law should be geared toward all races.
“That is where all the hate and dislike for officers comes from,” Colon explained to CollegeHipHop.com. “People feel as they are being judged for their skin color and how they look instead of feeling that the police care for their safety. Correctional officers conduct pat frisk in the jails to minimize the weapons and contraband being passed throughout the jail by any suspected inmate.”
Colon also talked about law enforcement’s negative representation within the penitentiary system. While many reports have been published on the subject of correctional officers’ violence against inmates, Colon says the media is somewhat biased when it comes to coverage.
“One of the most common misconceptions is that we like to beat inmates,” Colon told CollegeHipHop.com. “Most to all of the time the inmates beat on and brutalize each other as well as the officers. But we do not get the support needed from the media. The inmates have way more rights than us as officers and it is unfair.”
Patrice Johnson is a Police Communications Technician for the New York Police Department in Brooklyn.
Johnson, who works daily with police officers and the public, believes positive change can happen despite this country’s current condition and it begins with accountability.
“I feel like some people are too far gone with the mentality of police vs. civilians,” Johnson said. “Their minds are like concrete, all mixed up and permanently set. Change is hard for most people and for that, a lot of people would rather go with what makes them comfortable, regardless of how foolish it may be. The only thing to do is take responsibility for your own actions.”
She believes officers must deal with constant backlash from the public, well after infamous events like the infamous police-trained ‘choke hold’ which took the life of Chris Garner.
“The NYPD works as a chain of command, and when a problem occurs, they always start at the very bottom,” said Johnson. “While cops are looked at as superior, I feel that they (police officers) always look to blame someone for what happens and are almost never held accountable for their actions. Personally, I don’t feel like we are (police officers) ever prepared for the backlash. Just ‘dealing’ with it is what has always been taught to us. We get through it and come to work the next day ready to take on the next issue.”
Education is the key for the New York Police Department. The entire 35,000 workforce is presently undergoing three-days worth of retraining. It includes fundamentals like not cursing, non-violent negotiations, ego control and other takedown tactics, as opposed to immediately drawing their weapons.
Saida Wuri is a second-year law student at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Wuri believes African-Americans need to continue to organize in order to change the system from within.
“We as African-Americans along with other minorities need to work together to fight this system…to write ourselves into the system. This would require people to become policemen, politicians, lawyers and judges. This would require people to become educated about the laws in their states…as of now we are distracted. Distracted by social media, distracted by fighting each other, so distracted that we have lost sight. We should not and can not let our peaceful protesting and demonstrations go to waste, we must make our plans and goals to fit in “the system.”