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Police Brutality: It’s Time for a Change

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Bre Slepski, Opinions

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On September 29th, 2016 in San Diego, Alfred Olango was shot and killed by police officers. The police had been called because people thought that Olango was mentally ill and having a mental breakdown. The police officers shot him when he was supposedly taking an item out of his pocket in a “shooting stance.” This item was a vape smoking device. This is, sadly, not the first time we’ve heard about an event like this.

In 2014, Bryce Masters was pulled over because of a warrant attached to his license plate. When asked to get out of the car, he was contentious. Police officer Timothy Runnels tried to force the boy out of the vehicle, and then in the video can be heard muttering “F*ck it.” Then, this 17-year-old boy was electrocuted by Runnels without cause. Bryce went into cardiac arrest and nearly died. Runnels electrocuted Bryce with a Taser for approximately 23 seconds. Bryce was dead for eight minutes, he is lucky to be alive, and now he has to deal with a lifetime of recovery. Runnels now faces up to 10 years in prison, but that does not mean we can overlook this.

These are the kinds of stories we hear about nearly everyday. More times than not, the police do not get punished, and everyone seems to look the other way. Mapping Police Violence, a research collaborative collecting comprehensive data on police killings nationwide to quantify the impact of police violence in communities, found that in 98% of police brutality events did not end with the police being charged with a crime. This needs to change. Police brutality is real, and it is all over the country. It is not just your average American who is affected by police brutality. Tennis star Serena Williams spoke out about her fear of driving because she is black. Williams stated that she had her nephew drive her places, and as soon as soon as she saw a police car, she felt the need to check her driving speed. People should not be afraid to drive in their own country.

The federal government needs to do something to put police officers in check and prevent police brutality from happening. The federal government could have a federal investigation of unfair policing in every state. The federal government also needs to get every abusive officer off the force. We can start the fight against police brutality by having protests, recording police officers, speaking with the police about what is happening, knowing your rights, and not being afraid to take legal action against the police. Police brutality protests are not something we should be afraid to join. There are hundreds of peaceful protests across the nation. In San Francisco on July 8th, 2016, people marched on the streets in a peaceful protest. Hundreds of people showed up, all trying to stand up against corrupt police officers. Clearly, not all protests end in violence. Although all protests may not make a big impact, it is somewhere to start, and we cannot remain silent. We must start making a difference in our nation now. The Guardian found that if police brutality persists in this way, police officers will kill 1,000 people by the end of the year.

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