Essay on Police Brutality Towards Black People

The Reconstruction Era, which took place after the Civil War was supposed to be a time of rebuilding. Both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass talked about their goals for the future in two different speeches. Lincoln, in his Second Inaugural Address, explained what he hoped to accomplish during his second term. Douglass, who had a first hand experience to slavery, talks about how no one is doing anything about slavery yet everyone knows it is wrong.   During the Reconstruction Era, the goals that both Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass had hoped to reach were not reached because of laws such as the Jim Crow laws, which segregated the African American population from the white population. Similarly, to this day African Americans are more susceptible to police brutality just because of the color of their skin.  

In Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address, he states how the war was no one fault. He does not place the blame on the north or south. He writes “ Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. (Pearson “The Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln”)

He does this so that no one will be upset more than they ready feel as a result of the war. One of his goals is that the issue of slavery will be solved and without hard feelings. He writes “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. (Pearson “The Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln”)”  He did not want to punish the Confederate soldiers or the slave holders. He didn't want malice towards anyone. Malice is the intention or desire to wish evil or ill upon someone. Lincoln did not want that for anyone. He wanted the nation to resolve  the issue of slavery as a nation, as whole. 

Frederick Douglass speech “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” explains how the slave is still not completely and truly free. He writes “  above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, today, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them” The slaves, who are ready put though enough pain and suffering, suffer  The white people know that slavery is wrong, there is no questioning or arguing against that. But yet no one is doing anything. No one is questioning why if slavery is so wrong why has nothing been done.

He argues that most people don't see slaves as people, “ The manhood of the slave is conceded. It is admitted in the fact that Southern statute books are covered with enactments forbidding, under severe fines and penalties, the teaching of the slave to read or to write. When you can point to any such laws in reference to the beasts of the field, then I may consent to argue the manhood of the slave. When the dogs in your streets, when the fowls of the air, when the cattle on your hills, when the fish of the sea, and the reptiles that crawl, shall be unable to distinguish the slave from a brute, then will I argue with you that the slave is a man!” In the South it is very illegal to teach a slave to read or write. By doing this, it is dehumanizing the black people to the level of brutes. 

“Jim Crow laws were a collection of state and local statutes that legalized racial segregation.” (Jim Crow Laws” ) They existed from post Civil War era to about 1968. These laws were meant to bring the South back the a society where they had a class structure and they could marginalize black people. People who tried to challenge the Jim Crow Laws were often showed great violence and even death. The early beginning of the Jim Crow laws started after the ratification of the 13th amendment.

These were called Black Codes, they “detailing when, where and how freed slaves could work, and for how much compensation. The codes appeared throughout the South as a legal way to put black citizens into indentured servitude, to take voting rights away, to control where they lived and how they traveled and to seize children for labor purposes.” (Jim Crow Laws) To make things worse for the African American, ex-confederate soldiers were often the judges or police officers, which mean they were sure to be a subject to the black codes. Jim Crow laws soon spread to the city.

Black people were not allowed to enter public parks and theaters and restaurants were separated. Soon it was affecting every part of life, it “Segregated waiting rooms in professional offices were required, as well as water fountains, restrooms, building entrances, elevators, cemeteries, even amusement-park cashier windows. Laws forbade African Americans from living in white neighborhoods. Segregation was enforced for public pools, phone booths, hospitals, asylums, jails and residential homes for the elderly and handicapped.” (Jim Crow Laws) These harsh laws were proof that the goals and hoped after Reconstruction of Lincoln and Douglass were not met. 

Black people today face the same discrimination as the slaves did. They are more likely to be stopped by police then a white person. “Police killed 1,147 people in 2017. Black people were 25% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.” (Mapping Police Violence) Black people are three times more likely to be killed by a police officer then a white person. In 2015, 30% of the black people killed were unarmed. 99% of case involving a black person and police brutality go unconvicted, and the police officer walks. No charges and no conviction. In an article by the San Francisco Chronicle from March 20, by Lauren Hernandez and Sarah Ravani write about how at UC Berkeley, two students were racially profiled by police officers and were arrested. The article states “ A UC Berkeley student and a student from the University of San Francisco were arrested at around 9:30 p.m. March 8 by two university police officers who stopped the two black students and their friend, another UC Berkeley student, on Upper Sproul Plaza, the BSU said in a statement posted to social media on Monday. The BSU said the three friends were walking home from campus when police asked if they were carrying a weapon.

“They said no and when pressed the USF student did state that she had a Taser on her,” the student union’s statement says. “The student usually has a Taser on her for nighttime security purposes.”UC Berkeley said in a statement that stun guns are prohibited on campus, and that a struggle ensued with the two students, who were arrested after police tried to take the stun gun.

The BSU statement said the students were “forcefully searched” and “brutalized” by police officers and that one of the UC Berkeley students was “thrown to the ground,” arrested and interrogated. The USF student, who was also arrested and interrogated, was never advised of her rights, the BSU statement said. University officials did not detail the moments after the pair was detained, nor did they respond to allegations of racial profiling by members of the Black Student Union.” (Hernandez, Ravani)



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