Free Why Are So Many Police Shooting Victims African-American? Essay Sample
Racial profiling is the practice of specifically targeting a group of people or individuals based entirely on their racial or ethnic origins. Most of the racial profilers believe that specific ethnic or racial groups have the predisposition to commit crimes and break the law. Shooting incidents of people from a particular race or ethnicity are common all over the United States, indicating racial profiling is still prevalent within the society. Racial profiling is based on assumptions and beliefs that are misplaced and untrue, forming the basis of innocent shootings and death in the name of profiling (Alexander 55).
The Congress and the civil societies have been in debate over measures that have to be put in place to safeguard the minority groups living in the United States from such a backward ideology (Moskos 47). This paper aims at understanding the reason behind the ever-increasing number of African American shootings by the police departments in the United States.
Police shootings in America appear to target a specific ethnic group. This statement stems from the availability of data that backs it up. A number of reports and statistics provide evidence as to these racially-profiled shootings. In 2007, a reporter working for the ColorLines, Chicago took the duty of investigating police shootings in major cities in the United States. The findings indicated a disproportionately high number of police shootings were of African-American descent. From the year 2007 to 2013 a federal study indicated that 81% of people that were shot by the police in Philadelphia were of African American decent (Alexander 81). The shocking fact is that the African American population in the States stands at a mere 40% (Alexander 45).
Presentation of the Opposing Position
As expected, not everyone agrees with the presented facts and figures regarding racially targeted police shootings. A number of critics and opponents offer counterarguments in regards to the claim of racial profiling and shooting. Murder and deaths of the African-American population from shootings are numerous they do agree. They also agree that the police are involved in a number of the shootings and eventual deaths that result from these shootings (Free 52). However, their argument asserts that the police are defenders and protectors of the Africa-American population.
They argue that a person is likely to die at the hands of a fellow black person as compared to being killed by a police officer. According this group, more than half of the people that are shot at by the police are often found to be armed. A significant number of the African-Americans that are shot have been found with firearm or knives. These individuals are the very same ones who terrorize and plunder within their neighborhoods. The number of deaths that are committed among the African-Americans internally does out-do the number of deaths by the police (Moskos 49).
In as much as the number of police shootings of African Americans may be high, the staggering reality is that the police are looking to protect the African-American neighborhoods. The high number of African-Americans being shot by the police should not be the basis for criticizing and demonizing the police department. These deaths are an indicator and depiction of the moral permissiveness and legal liberalization that can be found in the United States as a whole.
Critique of the Opposing Position
The argument presented above may seem credible, until a person opens up to the shocking statistics or crime rates among the African-Americans and the resultant deaths. In as much as crime rates may be relatively high in African-American populations, the deaths and shootings have been amazingly low. Arguing that a person of African-American descent is likely to die at the hands of a fellow black than at the hands of the police is quite unfounded (Free 22).
Arguing that the police are protecting the African-American neighborhoods is rather absurd if the methods are as crude as shooting without trials. Justice and crime reduction have never been attained through the use of a gun or a bullet. The justice systems within the United States were set up for a reason. However, delivering on-the-spot sentences to individuals on the street who at times are unarmed does not represent justice in any way whatsoever.
Presentation of the Writer's Preferred Position
Racial profiling and subsequent shootings continue to plague the United States in the current day and age, and there is no doubt about this fact. After years of racial segregation and division, one would expect that a mature democracy like United States is the best example in terms of equal treatment of its citizens. A culture of policing that clearly depicts aspects of racial profiling is a throwback to the racists’ era. Longstanding racial wounds are yet to heal completely and yet the face of racial profiling pops up.
The shootings by the police, as depicted in a number of reports, show a bias in terms of racial targeting. The African-American population has been on the receiving end for some time now. The murders of both innocent unarmed blacks and criminals have been disproportionately high. The assertion that can be arrived at from the evidence provided is that most of the shootings by the police are based on the assumption that African Americans are likely to break the law (Free 32).
The other basis of the high number of shootings is because of the high crime rates in the black neighborhoods. However, the high incidences of crime rates do not justify the number of shootings that are committed by the police officers. Death by the bullet of a police officer does not necessarily mean that a person is a criminal. However, a section of the population wants to argue that such a notion is true. A number of innocent teenagers walking on the streets have been shot by the police just for having put on hoodies.
Critique of your Hypothesis by the Opposing Position
The argument presented by the paper is based on racial profiling being the very cause of the police shootings. The law enforcement departments have developed stereotypes over time in regard to the African American populations. It is true that violence and crime may be relatively higher in the African American neighborhoods (Free19). However, it is also true that racial profiling is a notion that can be rather complex to critique since it is a reality even today in the United States.
It is true that racial profiling is a contemporary occurrence in America. It is also true that police continue to shoot African-American individuals at a higher rate as compared to those of other ethnic origins. However, there is another perspective that has to be looked at with keener regard. Out of ten African-Americans that are shot, six of them are found to be armed. This is a realistic statistic that cannot be disregarded without consideration (Moskos 67).
The number of people that are found armed is indicative of the dangerous people within the society. In the real sense, the society and community are being protected by these shootings. It does not, however, justify the shooting that police have committed on innocent individuals. The middle-ground, therefore, would be that the police base their actions purely on well-collected evidence. Secondly, the on-spot system of delivering justice is rather barbaric and raises a number of questions in regards to the motivation behind such shootings by the police.
African-American shootings based on racial profiling are a reality that the greatest democracy in the world continues to grapple with to date. Statistics from various civil and independent bodies provide clear evidence or racial targeting in regards to the shootings that are made. The Constitution guarantees that each and every citizen of the American nation will be granted equal treatment under the law, yet this law is often flouted at will by the law enforcement agencies in the United States.
A number of declarations have been made by the presidents with regards to the end of racial profiling, yet even such directives have been clearly disregarded. The end result that can only be attained by such outdated acts is the undermining of public safety resulting from the loss of trust between a community and the police. Reforms in the police department are the only way out of racial profiling. The enhancement of incident investigation, improved officer accountability and training are some of the avenues that can be used to ensure that racial profiling comes to an end.
Alexander, Rudolph. Racism, African Americans, and Social Justice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2005. Print.
Free, Marvin D. Racial Issues in Criminal Justice: The Case of African Americans. Westport, Conn: Praeger, 2003. Print.
Moskos, Peter. Cop in the Hood: My Year Policing Baltimore's Eastern District. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. Internet resource.
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