The mass protests seen in the United States over the last few days over the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police has brought to light the evil of police brutality that has crept into our systems.
With the National Guard called in, widely shared images of police authorities in full riot gear has become common parlance. While it is important to restore law and order, there are several reports which reveal the extent of police brutality being exercised right now by the authorities.
George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police has triggered conversations about police brutality and the systematic oppression these authorities are used to carry in the name of law and order.
While the current narrative is focussing on the police brutality seen in the United States, it is not the only country that is dealing with the problem. Countries around the world, including ours, are home to countless incidents where deaths in police study and gratuitous killings have become common practice.
The vast majority of law enforcement agencies across the world perform their duties with the utmost dedication, integrity and in compliance with the law. However, the present incidents of police brutality act as an indicator of the dire state our police forces find themselves in.
What Exactly Is Police Brutality?
Police Brutality refers to a civil rights violation which refers to the unwarranted or excessive use of police force against civilians. This could include anything, from physical or verbal harassment which could lead to mental injury or even death in some cases.
Some broader definitions of police brutality also involve practices such as false arrests, damage to property, violent beatings and other forms of mistreatment.
Several laws aim to control incidents of police brutality. For example, the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects prohibits unreasonable seizures and searches. Even in India, the Police Control Authority was established after a rise in complaints against the police and their lack of Accountability was observed. This allows the authority to investigate into accusations of “Serious Misconduct” against the police personnel, as detailed by the complainant. “Serious conduct” covers a variety of offences such as a death in police custody, extortion, detention without due process of law etc.
Incidents Of Police Brutality On The Rise Around The World
The past few months have brought to light the horrors of police brutality. From the protests in the United States to Hong Kong to India, we look at several incidents of how police brutality has played out in these regions and honestly, it just is a sign of the f*ucked up world we live in right now.
If you want an insight into how deep the evil of police brutality has seeped into the US administration, just visit this website which maps police violence in the country.
A quick look will bring to you a variety of statistics. Last year, more than 1,000 people were killed by police. Black people accounted for 24% of those killed, despite making up only about 13% of the population. There were only 27 days in which no police killings were reported.
The website defines police killing as any instance when someone dies as a result of “being shot, beaten, restrained, intentionally hit by a police vehicle, pepper-sprayed, tasered, or otherwise harmed by police officers, whether on-duty or off-duty.”
While in some circumstances the police may be left with no choice but to resort to violent means to restore law and order, the context is important in such cases. Several reports from the United States recounting the actions of the police give the feeling that the police forces resorted to physical force and violence unnecessarily.
In Salt Lake City, an elderly man walking at the sidewalk during a protest was shoved and knocked over by a police officer. In New York, a video went viral after it showed two police vehicles ploughing into demonstrators.
Two police officers were suspended in Atlanta after they were caught on video pulling out a woman from a car and zip-tying her with handcuffs while using a stun gun on her husband.
To think that police brutality is a foreign concept would be naïve. It is a harsh reality here at home as well. As recent as a couple of months back when the lockdown started, the Indian police was held responsible for using violence to enforce the nationwide lockdown.
Videos viral on social media showed how policemen used lathis to bash people who ventured out of their homes, also making them crawl or do sit-ups as a form of punishment. In some cases, the violence at the hands of the police took a fatal turn. A man in West Bengal died after allegedly being beaten by the police for violating the lockdown. Similarly, a probe was ordered into an ambulance driver’s death after he was subject to assault by the police.
Such incidents have created an atmosphere of fear of police in the minds of Indians, with less than a quarter of the incidents trusting the police.
Not only this, but a recent report by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) revealed the mindset of the country’s police when it comes to Indians. Nearly half of the country’s police force believes in some way that Muslims are more likely to commit violence. One in every three policemen believes that it is only natural for a mob to punish the alleged accused in cases of cow slaughter.
Such mind-sets feed into the stereotypes, leading to rising cases of police brutality in the country. The fact that Indians at large fail to speak up or even recognize police brutality leads to the problem slowly seeping into the system on a large scale.
The story’s same in Hong Kong as protests continue to fight for the country’s political rights. Ever since the protests began, the reputation of the police has seen a consistent downward trend.
Several cases of police brutality have come to light over the past few months. Allegations of abuse of protestors in detention have been widespread, with many reporting tortures and sexual abuse at the hands of the police. Many video clips also show the police shooting live rounds on the protestors, in many cases at point-blank range.
A chilling incident just weeks before the killing of George Floyd shows the extent of police brutality in the state, and how the situation eerily mirrors that of the United States. On May 10, 3 police officers were seen kneeling on a south Asian man by the neck. By the time the paramedics arrived, the man was unconscious and had no pulse.
Such incident throughout the world shows us the growing cases of police brutality the authorities are dealing with. These incidents, while isolated put the rest of the forces working in a bad light.
All over the world, police forces are responsible for keeping the citizens safe and maintaining law and order. In the majority of cases, they do exactly that, coming to the rescue of citizens and saving the lives of many. For that, they deserve all the support and accolades.
However, at the same time, it is important to address the issue plaguing the police systems in the world. Only then, we can foster constructive debate to ensure police brutality is a thing of the past.