Police brutality is a preventable cause of injury and death that has plagued the United States for years. Names like Trayvon Martin, Tanisha Anderson, and Michael Brown paint a grim picture of the toll that racism, fear, corruption and the abuse of power take on the lives of people. The US police system is undoubtedly broken, and despite the overwhelming attention that these issues have been getting in recent times, a lot more still needs to be done.
Although politicians and public figures seemingly have a more significant platform to impact change, average citizens like yourself can still do something to promote the adoption of proper practices. Below are five effective strategies you can employ to make a stand against police brutality today.
1. Educate Yourself on Police Conduct Matters in Your City
The police conduct review process is one of the biggest promoters of police misconduct and brutality. In many cities, the system that is supposed to hold the police accountable for their actions is heavily influenced, if not entirely shaped by police unions, who are beholden to the officers and not civilians.
So, if you’ve been asking yourself why the numerous civilian complaints and the overwhelming calls for disciplinary action after incidents haven’t been bearing much fruit, divert your search for answers to these unions. Go on Google and search for information about the police conduct review process in your city, and try to find areas that need strengthening, where union interference is high, and transparency is low. By educating yourself, you can know where to direct your fight and possibly prevent the next tragedy.
2. Donate to The Victims
Police brutality leaves victims and their loved ones with severe physical and psychological issues, some of which stick with them for life. Thankfully, non-profit- and civilian-driven campaigns exist to help these people get back on their feet. If the latest headline-grabbing incident has got you feeling helpless, think about easing the burden of the victim’s family by donating. In addition to uplifting the affected people, your donation could help to fuel awareness and get even more people on board.
3. Hold Local Politicians Accountable
Change usually starts locally. Therefore, knowing the stances that your local leaders have taken on police reforms can help you identify what’s been undermining the process. Contact your mayor and governor’s offices and get some answers regarding what they’re doing to promote proper police-public relations. Don’t hesitate to express your frustrations against any official that fails to address issues like police brutality. And when these offices reach out to the community for suggestions or opinions about new policies, speak out!
4. Record Police Encounters
Civilians are now the most reliable sources of information regarding police brutality, thanks to mobile phones. Without the testimonies and recordings of brave bystanders, a good number of convicted cops would be free today.
When you encounter an officer disregarding the law, keep your rights in mind, and take out your cell phone. Let the police know that you’re holding them accountable for their actions.
5. Take Legal Action
The most effective way to fight police brutality is to go for their money. If the police departments keep getting sued for misbehaving cops, they’ll have no choice but to deal with the issue themselves. So, when an office mistreats or hurts you or someone close to you, consider taking legal action. With help from a law firm like Hupy and Abraham, you can hit them where it hurts – in their pockets.
Police brutality is one of the many ways in which systems and institutions oppress certain groups based on race, and like all the other examples you can think of, it has to stop. Don’t sit back and leave the fight to other people and organizations. Regardless of your level of influence or position, you can do something to make things better.