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Sofia Estrada
Benjamin Craig
Work of Art
June 2nd, 2015
We Need Peace
August 9th marks the two-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of black 18-year-old
Micheal Brown. Brown was unarmed when shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police
officer, in Ferguson, Missouri. The shooting caused many protests that disturbed the area for
weeks. The story sparked controversy during the time the police, public, and media attempted to
assign blame. Not much has changed since then. Despite who was at fault or if the victim was
no angel (Mapping Police Violence) the issue of police using excessive force is still at an
inclined rate. This rate may be inclined but from year to year the numbers are somewhat
consistent. These numbers only become staggering once compared to the low numbers in police
brutality around the world. Police in the US have shot and killed more people in every week in
2015 than are reportedly shot and killed by German police in an entire year (CopCrisis). It is
unquestionable that the United States policemen more than often come face to face with more
violent situations and more heavily armed individualsbecause of the countrys loose gun laws,
another problem that too has gained public attention recentlythan police in other similarly
developed countries, yet looking at data for the United States paints a dramatic picture and one
that resonates with protests that have gone global since the killing two years ago in Ferguson.
The United States does not just have some statistical outliers in is in terms of police violence
when compared with countries of similar economic and political standing, the United States is an

outlier as a whole, and that is the real issue here (CopCrisis). The problem is clear but finding
a solution isnt quite as easy. There needs to be a way to increase awareness all the while
rewiring individualsboth civilians and officersinto changing their mindset through an art
based gathering. There is absolutely no need or justification for using fatal force on unarmed or
cooperative civilians. This needs to stop.
Whether or not the police accept the words police brutality, the public now wants some
plain answers to some plain questions. How widespread is police mistreatment of citizens? Is it
on the increase? Why do police mistreat citizens? Do the police mistreat nonwhites more than
whites? Obtaining information about police mistreatment is no simple matter. Citizens and the
police do not always agree on what constitutes proper and brutal police behavior. What
citizens describe as police brutality is really the judgment that they have not been treated with
the full rights and dignity owing citizens in a democratic society (Smith and Holmes 1047). The
truth of the matter is that police mistreatment is all around us. Yes, it is at an increase and yes
minorities are in the majority of those who are victims. In 2015, the statistics showed that the
vast majority killed by cops were young African Americans and Latinos. The youngest killed last
year were Kristiana Coignard and Jessica Hernandez both just 17-year-old girls in high school.
The oldest killed was 87-year-old Lewis Becker from rural upstate New York (Mapping Police
Violence). Police that are unable to apprehend 17-year-old girls or 87-year-old men safely and
without using fatal force have no right protecting and serving anyone. A person who cannot
control a situation with an elderly man or a high school girl high school, and fear for their life
so severely that they need to use fatal force, is not brave or a hero by any standard. They are a
person who lacks sufficient understanding of how the police should behave and act. Police are

supposed to protect, serve, and be respected, not cause fear and abuse of their authoritative
power. Not all police officers are to blame, but it is also unreal to say that instances like these are
simply the result of rogue cops. There is something wrong in the system and something needs to
be done to change.
In practically every city or town larger than a village in the United States, the police are
local. We have more than ten thousand police departments in this country, and even though
employment in many of them is governed by civil service, they are sensitive to the society and
the political structure in every place, big or small, where they work (Reiss 11). Moreover, their
work is structured so that they come in contact with the poorest and most shut out people in the
first place. The common crimes that are at the heart of our penal codesthe assault, thefts, and
burglariesas well as the category of deviance offenses, from disorderly conduct to narcotics,
are given to the police. The white-collar crimes are rarely given to the police, and even when
they are, most police rarely encounter them (Reiss 17). A possible explanation for police
mistreatment of citizens is that since the range of crimes covered by the police is so diverse the
policemen react more severely in certain circumstances because they face every crime with the
same approach. This leads to an error in judgment in the amount of force that is necessary in
handling the situation and can result in the worst cases, the death of an undeserving civilian.
The police give orders in the street, divide people into those who are acceptable or
suspicious based on their behavior and sometimes their appearance, and have the power to make
their orders stick by force if necessary. Many times race, social status, disability, housing
situations, and just general appearance comes into play on how police treat citizens and just
because some police-citizen encounters with these different groups of people have turned sour

before it doesnt mean police officers should approach every single encounter with these people
with the same amount of hostility and prejudice.
Every city dweller sees his or her own police department as the paradigm. If the police in
your area are seen as hostile and having had problems in the past then you are going to think that
all cops across the country are violent and that the system is corrupt, whereas if in your area
police are seen as saintly then your perspective on the current issues will be that the problem
must be in some small isolated incidents where there were some bad policemen who got out of
control. Every set of charges caused by police violence is insufferably bad, except when ignored
by the citizens. There are no better or worse departments, or more or less effective bureaucracies,
because the police are almost completely local. The local media hardly ever reports scandals
among out-of-town police, unless the events make it onto a network videotape or a cellphone
video goes viral. Knowledge about police abuses used to remain local and in some instances still
do on account that it is difficult to get nationwide information that compares cases or
departments with each other. Until recently, the federal government made almost no effort to
coordinate knowledge from different cities, and made very little effort to enforce federal
standards of civil rights against local law enforcement agencies (Bandes 1275). Although the
public believes awareness is at its peak that is not the case. We cannot stop raising awareness to
everyone until something is actually done to solve it. We cannot give up until all agencies wake
up and find a way to decrease the numbers substantially together. But realizing there is a problem
is only half the battle, we need to understand why this is occurring in order to find a way to stop

In every circumstance police behavior is influenced by the social dynamics of policecitizen encounters. According to a theory, police officers are not as likely to take legal action
against lower-status personsespecially the poor, and racial and ethical minoritieswhose
suspects are also of lower status, but more likely to take such action against lower-status persons
whose opponents are of higher status (McArdle 27). Somewhat more generally, this theory has
directed analytics attention to structural characteristics of the situation in which officers and
citizens interact: the social class, race, and gender of the complainants, and their dispositional
preference (McArdle 30). Research has consistently shown that arrests are influenced by the
demeanor of suspects (Worden); arrests are more likely if the suspect is disrespectful to the
police. This same research has also produced somewhat inconsistent results. For example, some
data indicates that African American or Latino suspects are more likely to be arrested compared
to white suspects who are mostly left alone, while others show that the relationship between race
and arrest is null and invalid. Therefore, there is no direct correlation that suspects who are
minorities are more likely to act disrespectfully toward police officers yet statistically, it is more
likely for a nonwhite suspect to be apprehended than all there while a white suspect is let go
(Worden). Unfortunately, this same pattern is seen in the polices use of deadly force. The
evidence confirms that minorities are, in fact, overrepresented among the human targets that the
police shoot at, relative to the numbers in city populations, but it also indicates that minorities are
overrepresented among those whose actions accelerate the use of deadly force by police. This
last year alone about half the victims of lethal force were white and half minority. But the
demographics shifted sharply among the unarmed victims, two-thirds of who were black or
Hispanic. In general, African-Americans were killed at three times the rate of whites. Why is this

the case? As mentioned above, there is no direct correlation in minorities being more hostile or
disrespectful when dealing with cops so why are they getting killed at a higher rate? Something
here seems off. I dont know if I have to spell it out but it seems that there is still some deep
seeded racism and in our country and specifically in our police bureaus. Maybe it was the way
they grew up or how they were trained, but it is quite simply something that needs to change.
Police work has changed in the last generation through community policing and the
current fashion for quality-of-life or zero-tolerance policing. Through it all, the dynamics of
ordinary police abuse have not greatly changed. Most incidents of street justiceviolent acts
by police against people in the streetsare the result of incidents that police perceive as threats
to their authority; supposedly, the police dont intend for the confrontation to end in violence but
they find that they cannot control the situation and thus resort to lethal action. Two particularly
dangerous police attitudes that may encourage police brutality are the role of cops as soldiers in
the war on drugs and the ignorance and authoritarianism of some administrations (Skolnick). The
distinction between police brutality and excessive force is that the brutality is a purposeful
cruel act to violate someones rights, whereas excessive force may just be the result of an error
of judgement so in other words, when a nightstick is used mercilessly against those who defy it
and when someone is shot which is rarely a deliberate violation of the rights of the person shot,
but a terrible error of judgement at the very worst. Of course, there are exceptions to this as there
are with most things. Most of the time, when an incidental use-of-force enters the news, officials
retain control of its public definition. Officials generally try to control the news by
individualizing these incidents, claiming that those subjected to police use of force brought it
upon themselves with their deviant, hostile behavior. I find it difficult to agree when I know

about instances where unarmed teenagers were fatally wounded by police. I don't know how
anyone can justify these actions as incidents.
With all the tragic stories surfacing recently its easy to think that police brutality is
suddenly out of nowhere on the rise, but that is not the case, it has always been there. When
police misconduct is brought up Rodney King is the ideal example to be used. Rodney King was
being pursued by the L.A.P.D in a high-speed car chase on March 3, 1991(Skolnick). When
police caught up with him and was able to get him stopped he was pulled from the vehicle.
George Holliday was a local resident nearby that was able to get footage of the incident. The
officers supposedly pulled King out and repeatedly beat him with a baton. The officers Laurence
Powell, Timothy Wind, Theodore Briseno and Stacey Koon were charged with criminal offenses,
including assault with a deadly weapon. However, they were cleared of all charges which some
believe was because of the all-white jury. (Rodney Glen King) This only made racial tension in
the United States worse. In 1992 a deadly riot broke out in anger for the outcome of the Rodney
King trials. This riot was again under the control of the L.A.P.D and around 53 people were
killed from the excessive force being used to get the riot under control ( Rodney Glen King).
Around 2,100 people were injured from the riot, 7,000 fires occurred, and there was a total of
one billion dollars in property damage.(Top ten cases of police brutality-listverse) Could this
again have been another example where police used more force than what was truly necessary? I
think it was. There is no clear evidence that King was posing any hostility or was in any way a
menace once he got out of the car. The police had no right to beat him up after complying with
the officers. The only menace in this example were the police officers themselves.

Police are supposed to protect and serve the general public. Unfortunately, for those with
badges and intense prejudice against people from a different class and or race from their own, the
general public includes everyone. Minorities, immigrants, people with physical or mental
disabilities, the lower class, homeless people, and all the other groups of people that are seen as
outcasts are all part of the general public of the United States of America, the country that claims
to be the land of opportunity and of the free. We are all part of this beautiful melting pot that we
live in. Police cannot go around beating or shooting civilians and justifying themselves by saying
that the suspect provoked them and were dangerous when we know that it is not always the case.
When we learn to accept that police work has changed because of our ever changing country
then we can begin to make a change and see a difference.
For many of the victims of police brutality, it is too late for their voices to be heard but it
is not too late for their families and for the rest of us to raise awareness. Everyone has the right to
be heard and not everyone has a platform where they get that opportunity. Sure, its easier than
ever to say something anonymously by hiding behind a screen but this form of awareness only
goes so far. I want to create a website (open to all public) where artists can submit art pieces/
recordings of performances inspired by police brutality to be displayed in a special gallery
installation in the Portland Art Museum. Pieces will be selected based on originality, merit, and
consistently of the theme. The actual display will be up for a couple of months during which at
opening night there will be a gala where people, especially victims or family and friends of
victims are invited to share poetry, short stories, and or their personal experiences with police
brutality and how it has impacted their lives through an open-mic platform. All are welcome to
attend this gathering to raise awareness. This gallery can serve as a haven for the victims and

families of victims to interact with others going through the same thing. I know this will help not
only our society by raising awareness but also those who were affected by helping them cope and
hopefully find some peace.
While the problem of police excess use of force and brutality is a complex issue that has
various contributing factors such as social, physical or psychological aspects that cause police to
use and abuse of their authority, its not an issue one person or one event can solve. It is going to
take years of hard work of cracking down on the abuse of power and justification. Whether this
means trying to find nonlethal techniques for police to employ, or merely allowing there to be
some more clear cut evidence by requiring body-cams on all officers, it is going to take time.
And with the rise in this countrys innocent body count it is time that we are running short on.
Police brutality seems to be a big issue in the highly populated cities. It has to partly do with all
the gangs in the bad areas of the cities. Parts of these cities are high for violent crimes, which
could be a major factor for excessive use of police force. Some officers may think that they are
protecting their own lives from danger and this is what gives them the right to use excessive
force. It is hard to say that not all cases of excessive amount of force used; weren't necessary in
order to protect the officer from danger. In some circumstances, an officer may have been in the
rightful position to use lethal force in order to obtain the suspect. However, it cannot be the case
in all accounts, and that is where some course of action is going to have to be taken in order to
protect the rights of those who fall victimized by police brutality.
What small steps we can take in raising awareness will go a long way. Art is the perfect
platform to raise awareness because it is nonviolent and a form of expression that can be used as
therapy. By creating art we can come together and show that we will not stand for what is

happening. We will not let any more innocent lives be taken away simply because of an error in
judgment. We know what is wrong and we know there has to be a change. We need openness,
transparency and accountability. We need peace.

Works Cited
Bandes, Susan. "Patterns of Injustice: Police Brutality in the Courts." Buff. L. Rev. 47 (1999):
"Cops Kill American Citizens." CopCrisis, Updated daily. Web. 22 May, 2016

McArdle, Andrea. Zero tolerance: Quality of life and the new police brutality in New York City.
NYU Press, (2001): 20-30.
Reiss, Albert J. "Police brutality-answers to key questions." Society 5.8 (1968): 10-19.

"Rodney Glen King." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 22 May, 2016

Skolnick, Jerome H., and James J. Fyfe. Above the law: Police and the excessive use of force.
New York: Free Press, 1993.
Smith, Brad W., and Malcolm D. Holmes. "Community Accountability, Minority Threat, and
Police Brutality: an Examination of Civil Rights Criminal Complaints*." Criminology
41.4 (2003): 1035-1064.

"Top 10 Cases of Police Brutality - Listverse." Listverse. Listverse, 10 July 2012. Web.

"Unarmed Victims in 2015." Mapping Police Violence. Web. 22 May, 2016

Worden, R. The causes of police brutality: Theory and evidence on police use of force. 1995.

Sofia Estrada
Benjamin Craig
Work of Art

Skolnick, Jerome H., and James J. Fyfe. Above the law: Police and the excessive use of force.
New York: Free Press, 1993.
This is a book that talks about the life of 4 police men and the advantage they take of this
black motorist, Rodney King, and how they beat him up with no real reason as to why they did it
other then using their "authority" as police men to do so. This book also talked about the way this
has happen throughout the years and takes a closer look as to what is happening and offers some
ways that this can be changed. It will help me be able to get a better understanding of things I
can do to change what is going on and it I'll help me get a perspective/story of how this happens.
It's easier to connect if there is a story of someone that went through it and was willing to talk
about it.

Worden, R. The causes of police brutality: Theory and evidence on police use of force. 1995.
This book goes into the theories of what police men act the way they do sometimes,
where they go over the top with the force they use to stop a crime. Each section has a theory,
whether it's the social, physical or psychological aspects of what cause police man to use and
abuse of their authority. Again this will help me have a deep connection of what happens with In
the law that is not talked about and to also be able to look at the other side. Sometimes the
victims are the ones that's get a closer look but I also need to see what the police men go through
that cause it to even happen.

Reiss, Albert J. "Police brutality-answers to key questions." Society 5.8 (1968): 10-19.

When it come to questions that people may have about police abusing of their authority,
this books has the answers to them. This book goes beyond what I though it would do. It talks
about 3 major cities, Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C and how the followed police man
and saw the interaction between them and the people that they meet. It answers questions like is
this situation increasing? And does it happen everywhere? And talks about how it is mostly lower
class men that get the worst of it. I really like this source and I feel like it will truly get that
deeper connection of when and why this happens and to whom it happens too.

Bandes, Susan. "Patterns of Injustice: Police Brutality in the Courts." Buff. L. Rev. 47 (1999):
When it comes to Police Brutality and the courts it seems that the courts favor a a form of
protecting the police. This book talks about how in the Courts they try to make it seem like it is a
one time thing, oh this usually doesn't happen, and all that when really they need to connect the
does that it happens to more people then they think and their as to be a stop to it it can't just be a
slap on the wrist. I don't know how much I will use of this because it starts to go into other topic,
such as the law and how it protects the police officers when it should be protecting the people
instead, but it is a good source, I'm not sure, I like it but I don't want to go of in a tangent about

Smith, Brad W., and Malcolm D. Holmes. "Community Accountability, Minority Threat, and
Police Brutality: an Examination of Civil Rights Criminal Complaints*." Criminology
41.4 (2003): 1035-1064.
This is the publication of theory of to whom is this police abuse directed too. The
research was made in cities of 150,000+ population (n = 114) and they look at the amount of
Hispanic and Black people the lived in the areas and also the amount of those same races that
were actually in the police force, compared to the amount of white people that was the remainder
of the population and what amount of those got treated that way. I feel like if I can pinpoint some
on this down and see if it is actually true and it's based on race rather then in general or based on
economic stands, then I will have a better direction of where my easy is going to.