Senior Sydni Brown, who is white, was pulled over a few weeks ago with her boyfriend, who is black, when they were sitting in a public park.
“I feel angry that not only it happened but that the cop who pulled us over thought we were doing something bad based on the color of our skin,” Brown said. She said the police officer asked for not only her ID but for the male passenger, as well.
Malcolm D. Holmes,a sociology professor at the University of Wyoming, said there has been a lot of conflict between law enforcement and private citizens. Initially, the first American police station originated in Boston in 1838 and initially targeted European immigrants. Foreigners from Germany, Britain, Italian, and East European were treated differently in America during that time, which led to an increase in police force in U.S cities in fear of commotion. Then, once the state legislation’s established Jim Crow laws in the South at the end of the 19th century, African-Americans became the police forces primary target.
The violence and killings between police and African-Americans reflect a fraction of America’s past when police allowed violence to occur against protesters and even participated in such acts. If police did not kill people who were not posing a threat with a gun, there would have been 638 fewer deaths a year, which would be a 57% reduction a report from 2017 .The civil rights movement was a fight for Black Americans in America. During that time the lives of African-Americans everywhere were dehumanized by segregation and violence. Their freedoms and rights did not exist and were not protected in their own communities from white Americans, a condition which lasted through the 1960’s.
Senior Shaquail Midgyett, who is black, said he is aware of this past and worries when police are corrupt it affects how he sees the rest of police officers.
“You see [police brutality] a lot, so you get used to seeing it,” Midgyett said. “I think it happens because some are racist. They don’t like a certain skin color, and they target you.”
Jens Ludwig, an economist at the University of Chicago told New York Times that living in a high-poverty neighborhood increases the risk of violent-crime from the police of citizens. Four out of five residents in poor neighborhoods of the country are black or Hispanic. Police violence occurs at higher rates in segregated areas. According to a U.S News & World Report, working in poor, violent communities can influence police officers’ perspective, causing them to treat certain races differently based on stereotypes.
Joe Veasman, a sergeant with the Missouri Highway Patrol, has worked for the State Patrol since 2005 who worked in Ferguson, Mo during the Michael Brown riots that sparked Black Lives Matter.
“I have had numerous times where I have stopped a minority who has initially had an attitude with me,” Veasman said. “Maybe this individual has had a bad experience with police officers before, or maybe they have bought in the narrative that cops are just out their to oppress minorities.”
The tension between police officers and citizens has sometimes unraveled because of the amount of attention spread of stories throughout news channels and social media. Both Police officers and the communities are angry and feel victimized from this topic creating a division between them.
“Any run-ins I have with [the police], I don’t really talk to them,” Midgyett said. “It makes you wanna distance yourself from them.”
Veasman said he tries to have a good relationship with citizens when he makes contact with them or during a stop to help stop the divide between police and citizens.
“Through my contact with [the driver], I attempt to repair some of those bridges that have been burned,” Veasman said. “I may even issue a warning when I would typically issue a ticket because repairing that relationship is more important to me than issuing a ticket.”
Police violence isn’t just towards minorities but to all races in society and it happens everyday. There are people dying at the hands of the criminal justice system and no solutions.
“There are bad cops out there. No one hates these individuals more than good cops,” Veasman said. ”However, the narrative that cops are just out to persecute minorities is simply a myth.”