Police Brutality History

Pages: 3 (697 words) Published: March 22, 2017


Police brutality is a phenomenon that has stood the test of time and it is the culprit to igniting many passionate debates across the United States. The term "police brutality" was in use in the United States as early as 1872, when the Chicago Tribune reported on the beating of a civilian under arrest at the Harrison Street Police Station (1872), and more recently when the CBS news reported that an officer was caught on video violently taking down a citizen (2017). The police have had an extensive history of abusing their powers. The topic of police brutality stays at the forefront of American public debate due to officers repeatedly using more force than necessary. However, with contemporary advancements in independent civilian review boards,...

The most notable and intriguing example of police brutality in the past happened during the Birmingham campaign. The Birmingham campaign was a nonviolent civil rights movement that was led by Martin Luther King Jr. During the campaign, the Birmingham Police Department, led by Eugene "Bull" Connor, used high-pressure water hoses and police attack dogs on the children, students, and adult bystanders. The issue with the police using force was that the protestors were not being violent. The protestors were only attempting to bring attention and change to the discrimination and segregation of black people. Friedman and Richardson stated in their article that John F. Kennedy, the President of the United States, was sickened by the images of police brutality and fearful that without federal legislation the events of Birmingham would be repeated across the volatile south. Some scholars have credited the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to the Birmingham campaign and the negative publicity it received (2008:224). The negative publicity that the police received was the first of its kind in a way that it helped shape public policy. However, the influence of the media on public policy was microscopic during the Birmingham campaign compared to its current influence which has grown to include social media and movements such Black Lives Matter. In summary, the protests were successful and drew attention to the discrimination and segregation that was taking place in the South. Eugene Connor was also fired from his job and the movement spurred the Civil Rights Act of...
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