Timothy O. McCalep

The problem of police brutality isn't new

Many news stories that have shown up in the past few years have to do with police brutality. Some people don't like to call it what it is, but it is a serious problem. Police officers who abuse the power they have to make sure that laws are followed in the officer's jurisdiction are a huge problem.

It is hard to think about a few bad apples ruining the reputation of police officers being a respectful group, but this is what is going on. For people who are victims of police brutality, life can seem much more difficult after the incident. That is, if they live.

A terrible realization

If the Black Lives Matter movement has done anything, it is bringing to light the fact that African Americans are 2.5 times more likely as white Americans to be killed by police officers in a shooting. In 2016, there were 233 African Americans who were killed in police shootings.

When you look at demographics by race in this country, African Americans make up 13 percent of the country's population. This same group accounts for 24 percent of people who are killed by police in shootings.

A history of problems

The Smithsonian Museum has a poster up that was carried during a protest in 1963. The message on the poster could just as easily been found on a current protest poster. It reads "We Demand an End to Police Brutality Now!" This message works right along with the current chants of "no justice, no peace" that can be heard at rallies across the country.

Even in 1963, the police brutality issue wasn't new. In 1929, the Illinois Association for Criminal Justice reported that in Cook County, Illinois, which includes Chicago, 30 percent of people killed by police were African American, but this race made up only five percent of the population in the study area. The study looked into killings that occurred from 1927 to 1928.

Going as far back as 1838 when the first official police department in the country was founded in Boston, there were reports of harsh tactics used on certain demographics, not only African Americans. That police department was accused of using brutal methods on European immigrants.

Today's actions

In the world today, people who are victims of police brutality do have options that they can exercise for dealing with the atrocities. From a social standpoint, they can become involved in the anti-brutality marches and activities. From a legal standpoint, they can take action in the civil court system to seek compensation for the impacts of the incident.

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