Perspectives on Police Brutality


A police car is seen here parking on the side of a local school for some type of “evaluation,” based on the vehicle they are in.

Joseph Rodriguez, Writer

Controversy and protests all over America have broken out in response to the decision of not indicting a police officer over the use of an illegal choke hold on New York resident Eric Garner, and how it [the choke hold] may have led to his death.

Rallies, marches, and public “die-ins” have erupted all over New York and beyond to show opposition against the Grand Jury’s verdict, which has led to law enforcement cracking down on the protesters from blocking important sections of the state, such as the Brooklyn Bridge. Though it does not directly affect small towns like West Sacramento, it still brings up the idea of racial identity and how the world sees you based on the color of your skin.

In response to investigators asking about if he intended to harm Garner in any way, Daniel Pantaleo, the officer who was not indicted just a few weeks ago, stated that he was forced to use violence after Garner’s refusal to comply with the officer, and that he used a take down technique taught to him in the academy instead of trying to block out Garner’s windpipes.

For the past few months, the law enforcement in America has been under constant examination and in critical controversy, based on the handling of many cases that have been pushed into the limelight that involve Black Americans being killed or “wronged” in some way by white law enforcement officers. But with the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner inspiring protests and outcries all over the country, the opinion that most police officers abuse their powers based on their own feelings and emotions is gaining stronger and more evident every day.

River City High school Teacher, Jerry Ferris’ Film class was given a survey based on the question of if they believe that police brutality is a problem in our country, in which over 65% of the 25 students believed there is. Also to add to that, when asked an optional question on what race they identify with, the race that believed that brutality is a problem the most was Latino, with Asian being only two votes behind.

For the past few months and throughout American history, there have been two sides to what the public believes the police either are: a corrupt, broken system that needs a huge overhaul, or an important system of our culture that is only being attacked because of a refusal to acknowledge the good deeds officers have done in this country.

Diego Munaz, a senior at River City, is currently learning about police violence in AP Government and believes that there is a problem in this country, but also thinks that sometimes cops have to take down someone regardless of race to protect others.

“Yes, Police Brutality is a huge problem in America and racism is one of the biggest causes of it, but sometimes police officers have to arrest or harm someone no matter what race the person is because they just might be trying to harm themselves or others.” Says Munaz

Local Police officer and River City school Resource Officer Marc Kirkland agreed with Munaz to a degree, but also brought up that in some of these instances, the individual who was either shot or taken down by police either had bad intentions or trying to resist.

“I do think that it’s bad at the moment,” Kirkland says, “but in some of these instances of violence, the person in question was resisting in some way, which will lead to some sort of defense.”

But, the question that will either be used as the biggest example for disliking cops, or showing why some people are looking at the world too simply, is what is it about people in positions of power that makes some individuals feel anger towards them? Kirkland has the opinion that the sometimes critical hatred of some officers is because of either lack of understanding on the part of the citizens or even being naive of what the situation is.

Kirkland says, “A lot of times people can be naive about what the current situation is at the moment, which leads to them making ideas and assumptions, which sometimes can be correct, that lead to them forming an opinion.”