Over the past few weeks, various media outlets have replayed the horrifically shocking video of a Black woman being brutally pummeled in the face by a California Highway Patrol officer. Such a horrific image sent shock waves as well as outrage through many communities in America.
The officer in question has been placed on paid leave. In response to massive public outcry about the beating, CHP officials responded that they are “investigating” the situation. I guess this is a step up from their initial response, which was to ignore the case despite the fact that the beating took place in broad daylight with hundreds of drivers and a few onlookers witnessing the horrendous spectacle.
The fact is that had it not been for the video going viral, this would have been another example of over-the-top police brutality swept under the rug and dismissed. The family of the woman in question has hired an attorney and is seeking monetary damages.
In another equally disturbing video, an Arizona State University police officer is seen body slamming a young African-American college professor to the ground as she was crossing the street.
As was the case with the California Highway Patrol incident, until images of the disturbing incident were splashed over the Internet, little attention was given to the event.
In fact, university officials initially sided with the actions of the officer in question believing that “the officer had acted appropriately” until mounting public outrage forced all parties involved to revisit the case. The officer in this case has been placed on leave.
These are just two cases that due to the determined diligence and conscientiousness of certain individuals who were determined to expose such injustices, that they eventually received the intense level of attention and outrage they warranted. Other examples of Black women in recent years being targets of police brutality are:
· Kathryn Johnston, a 92-year-old great-grandmother, was shot five times and killed by police officers in Atlanta as they stormed her home without a search warrant.
· A 12-year old from Houston was brutally assaulted by four of undercover officers after being confused for a White prostitute who was wearing similar attire
· In Memphis, Duanna Johnson was sitting in an airport and was physically assaulted by two White police officers.
· Rekia Boyd was killed in Chicago by a police officer when they mistook her friend’s cell phone for a gun.
· In Charlotte, North Carolina, Carolyn Sue Boetticher was killed after police fired 22 rounds in the car she was a passenger when the car failed to stop at a police checkpoint.
· Sandra Antor, from Miami, was traveling to see friends when she was pulled over by an irate South Carolina police officer demanding her to get out of the car on the ground. Fortunately she survived.
The last incident made national headlines and Antor settled out of court.
While many people have expressed their outrage at such injustices, there have been those who have resorted to a “they must have done something to deserve it” stance.
These are the sort of people who tend to view Black women (and Black people in general) as rude, combative, oversexed, elemental and not to be trusted. Such a retrograde mentality must be combated.
Black women have just as much right to expect to be treated with as much civility and dignity by law enforcement as any other group of people. This is a necessary and mandatory issue that must be given full attention. Police brutality directed toward Black women (or any group of women) is unacceptable.
Could training in implicit bias be helpful at your institution?