Police brutality is one of the most popular police issues and has been covered in the media for a long time. It should be noted that if it were not for the movement for the rights of the black population in the United States and the efforts of activists, police brutality would remain a topic for discussion in narrow circles. From a marginal issue raised exclusively by those who have come face to face with violence, it has become a legal and social issue that has generated waves of protests and given new life to activism. Modern Americans, especially young people, tend to oppose police brutality a priori, even without the experience of encountering this phenomenon. It is now believed that police brutality represents impunity and violates the fundamental ethical value of every person, justice.
In recent years, the media have been actively discussing new cases opened against police officers who have exceeded their law enforcement powers. However, this was not always the case, and the cultural memory of some sections of American society still remembers how such issues were hushed up. Readers should note that under such circumstances, seeing the lack of punishment after the crime, people lose faith in law enforcement. The entire judicial, security, and prison systems suffer because people refuse to trust them.
With the destruction of trust in the prominent institutions of power, people begin to rely on themselves, passing on such habits to their relatives and children. It is important to note here that the police are representatives of the authorities, and some victims of violence could interpret this as untouchability (Sanborn, 2018). It caused the most incredible excitement among the victims, discouraged by the impunity of their tormentors. Shattered trust was supported from within small communities where incidents of violence occurred. These were poor areas, black areas; homeless or mischievous children could complain to the police (Bryant-Davis et al., 2017). Gradually, the figure of the policeman lost his status, turning from omnipotent to hated and associated with shame.
It can be said that the abundance of headlines in the media devoted to police violence is an attempt to compensate for the lack of adequate leverage in the legal field on the problem. Unable to punish the perpetrators who harmed their families and friends, people, over time, through the work of activists, found another mouthpiece. Social pressure, judgment, and shaming have become this new mouthpiece, which now, thanks to the Internet, has become extremely serious.
The US legal system is based on a balance of power and different opinions, sometimes interpreted as social justice. The police and other representatives of the legal system are the bearers of justice or at least persons involved in its implementation or search. At the same time, justice as a concept goes beyond the boundaries of a legal definition, being an ethical and social construct.
This construct is essential both for society (often, it becomes the core in the construction of the state and government) and for the individual. The latter can be seen in the practice of mental disorders, when people, having failed strong beliefs (belief in justice), fall into panic, fear, and anxiety (DeVylder et al., 2018). Thus, a panic fear of police officers, dogs, and loud sounds, such as hooters and whistles, can be born.
Experiencing the collapse of justice as an ethical construct absorbed from childhood, people usually energetically fight against it. They speak at peaceful protests, actively try to find like-minded people on the Internet and in real life, and get to know those who have become the same victims of injustice. It usually encourages people to take enthusiastic actions associated with health risks. Embittered and frustrated, such people sometimes become sources of violence for the police and are the first to use force. On the other hand, some people who have experienced the collapse of the ethical construct tend to go deeper into the criminal world. They do not participate in demonstrations but deal in drugs, for example, without respect for the police and sometimes openly despising them. They acquire weapons and are proud of such an acquisition, telling their friends and relatives about it. It can be unequivocally said that the collapse of the moral norm of justice can induce people to take risky measures.
In conclusion, it is essential to emphasize that the problem of police violence affects aspects of the inviolability of officers and those illusions of justice that their figures exude to the general population. For many people, the first encounter with police brutality is a shock, and they do not know how to react. Their surprise is aggravated to the point of mental problems when they see the impunity of the actions of the police, which ultimately destroys the individual concepts of justice that form the personality.
Bryant-Davis, T., Adams, T., Alejandre, A., & Gray, A. A. (2017). The trauma lens of police violence against racial and ethnic minorities. Journal of Social Issues, 73(4), 852–871. Web.
DeVylder, J. E., Jun, H. J., Fedina, L., Coleman, D., Anglin, D., Cogburn, C., Link, B., & Barth, R. P. (2018). Association of exposure to police violence with prevalence of mental health symptoms among urban residents in the United States. JAMA Network Open, 1(7). Web.
Sanborn, J. (2018). The legal aspects of policing (1st ed.). West Academic Publishing.