Police Brutality & It’s Effects on Black and Latino Communities

By: Lugard Mohan

Police brutality is a major problem, and it has caused harm to many and damaged the lives of others in the past and present.  The problem is the unwarranted, excessive, and often illegal use of force against civilians by police officers.  Forms of police brutality range from assault and battery (e.g., beatings) to mayhem, torture, and murder.  According to experts, policing should be treated like a public health issue, forcing the entire system of recruitment and training to change.  

On June 19, 2020, Antwon Rose Jr., a 17-year-old unarmed Black male, was killed in a Pittsburgh suburb as he fled a car that was stopped by police.  He was shot in the back by Officer Michael Rosfeld, who had been hired one month before, and had only been formally sworn in hours before he took the teenager’s life.  Two days after Rose’s death, Boston University’s School of Health and the University of Pennsylvania released a study that the high rate of unarmed African Americans being killed at the hands of police has caused more incidents of depression, stress and other mental health issues among Black people.  In other words, overwhelming police brutality is damaging the mental health of African Americans; even those who have no direct connection to men, women and teens who have lost their lives.  Thus, everyone is affected by police brutality in one way or another, whether physically or mentally.  Between Black people and non-Hispanic Whites, Black people are more likely to report serious psychological distress.  

Thirty Puerto Rican and Dominican youth from New York City, between the ages of 18 and 19 were interviewed for a study by Angelica Delgado of Santa Clara University. During the interviews, the youth were asked to describe positive and negative experiences with law enforcement and share suggestions they have to improve police-community relations.  Overall, respondents reported that police officers do not care about their neighborhoods as much as white communities, and that racial profiling and disrespectful treatment is common during interactions with the police.  In addition, their uncertainties about immigration status, which influence police’s treatment towards Latino/a youth.  

Protests opposing racism and police brutality are not new and an important time was the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.  There was often a sense that those uprisings had brought on a great deal of progress in a short period, but a major shift in systemic racism is a long-term project.  Sadly, the trend of fatal police shootings in the United States seems be increasing.  The rate of fatal police shootings among Black Americans is much higher than any other ethnicity, standing at 30 fatal shootings per million of the population as of June 2020.  The effect of police brutality among Black and Hispanic communities have mental and physical impacts and it’s a deeply rooted problem in society. 

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