Sadly, one reason for this disconnect is because police officers sometimes behave one way in affluent and white communities and another way in economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color. Why else do privileged people welcome police officers into their neighborhoods and view them as protectors and "good guys" while just a few miles away less privileged people fear the police and view them as perpetrators of violence and invading forces coming in to cause trouble and bring problems?
Cell phone videos of police brutality are helping bridge this disconnect and allow people across different communities to appreciate what happens in other areas when it comes to police encounters. When people get a window into "how the other half lives" through cell phone video footage of police brutality they can begin to empathize with victims of injustice and society can then move forward towards greater equality in policing.
This clip from Amy Goodman's Democracy Now provides this kind of critical window. The show aired recently after New York City police officer James Frascatore brutalized former tennis star James Blake. New York City Police Department top brass apologized -- one wonders whether it was because James Blake is famous and influential -- but it turns out James Frascatore has done this before to other victims who are not tennis stars.
This video clip illustrates why police brutality continues to be a problem in our society. It recounts how Warren Diggs, another (African-American) victim of James Frascatore, was brutalized for riding a bicycle in the middle of the street. The video demonstrates:
- How police officers who perpetrate police brutality are often not fired or disciplined.
- How police brutality victims are often African-American or non-white and doing nothing to justify the violence committed against them.
- How police brutality is a cloud that hangs over certain people everyday simply because of the color of their skin or the neighborhood in which they live.
- How it takes power and influence to get an apology from police agencies for police brutality.
- How police officers often abuse their power and authority by harassing people of color for trivial offenses and use unjustified force.
- How police officers then can turn around and lie about what really happened during the encounter.
- How such unacceptable and harmful police behavior causes enormous suffering and grief for victims, their families, and their communities.
- How agencies that have important evidence of police brutality "clamp down" on such evidnce and do everything in their power to conceal it and cover it up so as to protect the perpetrator police officer at the expense of the victim.
- How they do this by using tactics such as not turning over footage and audio that documents brutality and also by exploiting the criminal justice system by charging the VICTIM with alleged crimes that never happened such as resisting arrest in order to intimidate the victim and insulate the officer and the officer's agency from accountability in the form of a civil rights lawsuit.
Needless to say, none of this is fair! Now that the truth is being exposed more and more thanks to cell phone video footage of police brutality and people speaking out hopefully we can put our policing on the path to positive change.