By: Nikolasi Niumeitolu
When discussing the Black Lives Matter movement, many analyze the relationship the black community have with the police. The whole Black Lives Matter movement was created by people who wanted to stop violence against African Americans , like the frequent violence shown in the past events this year where African American teens were killed by police officers. While the Black Lives Matter movement may be a young social justice movement, it has been well known throughout the past decades that police commonly target and racial profile youth of color. This long history of injustice is what has fueled the movement and made it so popular. The movement should keep the momentum of support they have gained from protesting against police brutality to further their cause, the fight for equal value of Black Lives.
With the recent violent events some wonder what responsibility and job the police owe to their community. According to the dictionary definition, police are suppose to “to control (something) by making sure that rules and regulations are being followed”. Police officers are put in place to enforce the law, which doesn’t automatically mean they are suppose to kill. Those who oppose the movement state that police are just doing their jobs, however the large amount of police related deaths speak otherwise.
As stated before there have been multiple occurrences where black americans have been shot and killed by the U.S. police in the past few years. One of the more recent and well known victims of police brutality, and the spark to the famous Ferguson protests is Michael Brown. Michael Brown was shot at least 6 times by police officer, Darren Wilson. Brown was shot and killed even after he had put his hands up to show he had no weapon and was surrendering. The death of Brown and other black americans has shown that police racism is all too real in America.
To address this issue, many activists have stepped out to talk and try to change this problem, one of them being Alicia Garza. Alicia Garza is one of the three cofounders of the Black Lives Matter movement. Her and the other two cofounders, Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, founded the movement after 17 year old Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman and Zimmerman was not held accountable for his crime. Ever since, they have been working hard to expose violence against the black community, many of which is police brutality. The aim of Black Lives Matter is to help address the targeting of Blacks and the racist oppression put upon them. Garza and her co-leaders want to make sure that Black Lives are being valued like the rest. Garza and her movement were very active in publicising what happened in the Michael Brown case. She has also organized and managed multiple protests for Oscar Grant and Tamir Rice. She believes it’s important to acknowledge that her movement was formed through the work of black queer women and opposes the male patriarchy that dominates the black social movement.
Another activist is Cornell William Brooks. Brooks is a lawyer, activist, and the CEO and president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Brooks has constantly fought for the social justice of blacks, his early work consisted fighting for fair housing for blacks and the prevention of gentrification. He led a 7-day march “Journey of Justice” through Missouri to protest Michael Brown’s murder. Brooks has helped publicize both the Black Lives Matter movement and the violence of the recent deaths caused by police.
While there are many activists and people trying to bring more attention to Police brutality with the black community, the statistics on who the police target are completely staggering. According to a study carried out by The Guardian, there have been 1,134 people killed by police in 2015. Out of those 1,134 deaths, African American males make up 15% of them. When this 15% is compared to the fact that African American males only make up 2% of the American population, many conclude that this is not several unrelated acts of violence but instead, many interconnected cases that show police are targeting African Americans.
The picture below shows there’s at least twice as many unarmed blacks than there are whites, which shows police are racial profiling and assuming blacks are more dangerous than other racial groups.
There is another study done by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) that monitors police car stops. The study shows that black drivers were 12.3% more likely to be pulled over by police while white drivers were 3.9%. This further proves that police are targeting blacks and racial profiling them. The need for the Black Lives Matter movement is made all too clear when given these statistics
As shown by these stats and the past events, police brutality and it’s existence in systemic racism is a very real thing. It is something that America suffers from and there are many activists such as Alicia Garza and Cornell William Brooks who fight against it. The Black Lives Matter movement is a movement that was made to address this American problem in order to prevent events like the Michael Brown case from being swept aside and forgotten. The movement should continue their work to expose the violence inflicted on the black community by the American police department and rally more activists to join the fight.