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Police Brutality

In our civilised society we have struggled with violence. Civilised society entrusts violence to certain bodies; the police, the military. These are the bodies that can use violence legitimately according to the laws that make up our societal framework.

On paper this is meant to be a good thing. Better than a free for all, a state of nature as Hobbes would put it, where life is nasty, brutish and short. But as long as their have been laws to police there have been instances of police brutality where the innocent and guilty have been subjected to violence that is beyond the pale.

Infamous incidents include the Birmingham campaign of 1963-64, the Selma to Montgomery march of 1965, anti-Vietnam war demonstrations, the death of Rodney King in 1991, the recent demonstrations in Ferguson and other cities across America. What ties these incidents together is the racial divide. Black people being attacked and brutalised by white police officers defending the status quo.

Until very recently there was no record of people killed by the police in the United States. The police still do not collect this data, but other bodies are stepping in. The Guardian has started a project called ‘The Counted’ which tallies the number of people killed by police in the US. In 2015 710 people have been killed so far. 35 people have died in August. Many of these deaths are from gunshot, some are from tasers, some have died in custody- their circumstances shielded by blue. 121 people died in July. 79 people died in June. But what about those who were wounded? Who had their skull fractured or arm broken or were traumatised by an encounter with an occupying force fighting the War on Drugs?

These are still uncounted. Investigations into police brutality are often left to internal police commissions or district attorneys. One cannot fail to see the error in leaving investigations to an in-house body. The blue shield, protecting the occupation from a perceived hostile population still holds strong. If people have no place to go to voice concerns these concerns will not be aired. They will not be resolved. They will continue to fester in what is already a terribly rotten bridge between the police and those who they are supposed to serve.

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