Police Brutality: Its Different Shades And Consequences

Holmes and Smith (1 – 3) have noted its racial undertones, especially in some cases that involved White officers who harassed African Americans and Latin Americans and had elicited a violent reaction from these racial groups. Whites who watched the infamous video of Rodney King getting beaten up have reason to believe that while the actions of the police officers were condemnable and truly shocking, they believe that it was entirely necessary to “put the law to them” and of course uphold the law.

The tension ran even higher as the police officers were cleared of the charges of brutality that they have done to the victim, and has become one of the many factors that has become the fuel of whether or not the issue of race has anything to do with how police officer treat people under their custody. This has been of course not without any consequences.

Because of this seeming tendency to side with one another during times of police brutality cases, African Americans who were harassed by what some White police officers did to a member of their community, for instance, would then generally see other innocent White people as being the same as these police officers, and see revenge as the outcome. White officers in turn also retaliate against innocent African American members of the community, in a cycle that go on and on in a seemingly endless loop of revenge (Alexander 59 – 60).

There are also instances wherein people of a certain racial group are made to “own up” for crimes that were committed by a member of their racial group, and because of this, they are the ones held responsible for why the police felt “obligated” to use excess force on them. Of course, incidents of police brutality are not the solely limited to that of minority racial groups alone. However, the incidents of Whites being victims of police brutality were not always deemed as cases of police brutality – and so it falls to the minority groups to deal with the said problem.

It has become, as Russell-Brown (58 – 59) points out, become so concerned with the idea of being centralized on the racial aspect that the idea of police brutality does not concern the Whites, as what Holmes and Smith have already pointed out, and lead to the problem of revenge as well. And the race riot that followed the decision regarding Rodney King’s assailants during the acquittal is also one of the many consequences that could come out from racial-biased police brutality.

Another problem to look into aside from the aspect of color would be the case of whether or not the victims involved in police brutality incidents as either “good” or “bad”. Russell-Brown (60 – 61) demonstrates how the use of the “good” and “bad” victim approach can swing public opinion to the defense and possible justification of police brutality actions. In the case of “good” victims for example, police brutality incidents involving someone with a good standing in society, has been a good son or husband or brother, move public opinion to declare that he was wrongfully abused by police officers who beat him up.

In the case of a “bad” victim, whether through a known criminal record or any incident of misconduct on his part, public opinion would swing against the victim, and give them reason to justify the arresting officers’ actions. Still in some cases arresting officers who did acts of police brutality on either “good” or “bad” victims end up having the same outcome despite having overwhelming support from the public, in one way or another.

Police officers who did any kind of wrongdoing were covered up for and acquitted. In the case of “bad” victims, they end up being the bad guys after all and so “deserved what they got”, instantly shifts public sympathy to the police officers who were “just doing their jobs” at the time. Consequences of course include increased mistrust for the system as well as allowing the incidences of police brutality go on unchallenged and becoming worse as it progresses.