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Oscar Pistorius: Perceptions of Disability and Masculinity

Now that you all already know the main facts of the Oscar Pistorius’ case — that he fatally shot his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on February 14, 2013, in the bathroom of his estate in Pretoria, South Africa – and especially now that the sentence has changed, I thought that I would delve deeper into Oscar Pistorius’ intent on murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. I think that we can all agree that Oscar Pistorius shot through the bathroom of his estate four times and that his girlfriend ended up dead because of it; however, there has been some controversy over whether the homicide was pre-meditated, with him knowing full well that his girlfriend was in the bathroom, or if it was accidental, with him thinking that an intruder was in the house, just chilling out in the bathroom with the door shut. It is completely possible that an intruder could have been in the house that night, given the high crime rate, especially in gated communities. The following image states the order of events that happened the night of the shooting.

Source: National Post,
Source: National Post,

From here on out, I am going to assume that his testimony of what happened that night was completely truthful. However, regardless of whether he thought that he was shooting an intruder or if he thought that he was shooting Reeva Steenkamp, his intentions were the same. There was no way that he could shoot a person four times through a small bathroom with nowhere to go and not kill them. However, the act of grabbing a gun when he heard sounds coming from the bathroom was likely the result of the fact that he was disabled and was more likely to experience fear and feel that his life was being threatened.

Q: Is the fact that Oscar Pistorius is disabled an excuse for him to kill his girlfriend? Are there any excuses for him for shooting Reeva Steenkamp?

No, even though disabled people feel more threatened than able-bodied individuals due to the fact that when they are in high-stress situations, they are less mobile and less likely to get out of the situation, just because he does not have the bottom half of his legs is no excuse to committing murder. He still has two working eyes and he could see if his girlfriend was in bed with him before shooting up a bathroom door.

It is also believed that Pistorius’ disability led him to feel emasculated, because disability is often considered feminine. He used women, sports, and guns to develop his masculinity. He was involved in relationships with attractive blonde women to satisfy any inadequacies in his life. He probably engaged in younger, thin, blonde women thinking that they would be insecure and that he could diminish his insecurities by controlling them and being the “man” in the relationship.

The Most Important Question: Did the emasculation from his disability cause Oscar Pistorius to shoot Reeva Steenkamp?

Q: If you were in the same situation as Oscar Pistorius, would you do the same thing that he did? Why or why not?

Personally, I would not have done what he did. First, I would have looked to see if my significant other was still in bed and then when I saw that she was not in bed, I would have just assumed that it was her in the bathroom and gone back to sleep.



Abrahams, N., Jewkes, R., & Matthews, S. (2010). Guns and Gender-Based Violence in South Africa. South African Medical Journal, 100 (9), 586-588. Retrieved from

Breetzke, G. D., & Cohn, E. G. (2013). Burglary in Gated Communities: An Empirical Analysis Using Routine Activities Theory. International Criminal Justice Review, 23 (1), 56-74. DOI: 10.1177/1057567713476887

Cherney, J. L., & Lindemann, K. (2014). Queering Street: Homosociality, Masculinity, and Disability in Friday Night Lights. Western Journal of Communication, 78 (1), 1-21. DOI: 10.1080/10570314.2013.792388

Hickey-Moody, A. (2015). Carbon Fibre Masculinity: Disability and Surfaces of Homosociality. Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, 20 (1), 1-17.

Onishi, N. (2015, December 3). Oscar Pistorius Guilty in Murder of Reeva Steenkamp, Appeals Court Rules. The New York Times. Retrieved from

(2014). Oscar Pistorius Trial: Evidence. BBC News. Retrieved from

Mental Health Concerns in the Administration of Criminal Justice

mental health img

The issue of mental health in our criminal justice system is severely under-represented. We have individuals both taking advantage of and getting lost in the system which gives neither the help they need. The issue of misdiagnosing is where the problem begins; we lack the research we need to complement the diagnosing methods of physicians. Stigma concerning individuals with intellectual disabilities, especially offenders, is also causing conflict in putting them through the system. Minority standing is, of course, the underlying factor in all of this, considering the majority of individuals with mental disabilities in the criminal justice system are part of a minority group.

The plea of temporary insanity (if successful) can prove little to no consequences from the criminal justice system, yet rarely is it truly insanity that drives these offenders to offend. People that are part of the majority, wealthy and white that have the resources to put together a team of excellent lawyers are more likely to use this defence than those that are obviously actually psychotic. The problem with this is it leaves criminals who only claimed insanity, out of the streets to re-offend. Many legitimate psychotic individuals do not even know what is best for them, yet they still have to decide their own fate and many refuse to allow their lawyer to mount an insanity case for them. As a result, they get stuck in the system without proper services to give them the assistance they need that would be provided in mental health facilities. This is one of the many issues with pleas such as these; the wrong people use them and the right people don’t know how to use them and aren’t receiving aid on their behalf.



The stigma we place upon individuals with mental disorders leads many people to brush them under the rug so to speak, because what can they contribute to society? What will it hurt me to accidently put them in jail instead of a mental health facility? It hurts them, it hurts their families and it hurts the community around them when mentally disabled offenders don’t get the treatment they need to not offend again. Jail is not the equivalent of therapy or medication, which is the only thing proven to keep these offenders from re-offending.


In order to stop this problem we need to conduct more research, continue to make better and more assistance programs available to minority groups and change the way people with mental disabilities are tried. Research will make diagnosing more accurate and valid, programs will prevent minorities from ending up in the criminal justice system to begin with and could also contribute to getting rid of prejudicial bias within the system. Changing the way people with Intellectual disabilities are tried is the most important way to stop them from being improperly put in the general jail population. If they cannot make proper judgements they should not and can not make proper decisions on these judgements and should not be forced to.

To close, here are a few last words about mental illness:

1. So how do we fix this problem besides more research and better methods for diagnosis?

2. How much of a factor is race, sex and/or social status in deciding where/how an offender is sentenced?

3. Do you know someone with a mental disability who has had to go through the criminal justice system? How did it work out for them?




Public Perceptions of Police Brutality in Post-Slavery America

On the surface, incidences of police brutality may appear to be nothing more than trigger-happy and power hungry cops who give a bad reputation to an otherwise ethical and moral police force. In many respects, this statement is true. A few rotten apples often affect attitudes towards the entire barrel, yet many police officers care about their communities, want to do some good in those communities, and hold human life to the utmost importance. It is important to recognize, however, the racist and discriminatory tendencies riddled throughout the criminal justice system and substantiated in our law enforcement across the nation. Such tendencies are embedded in the United States from a long history of genocide, enslavement, and segregation committed by our ancestors and still felt to this day by those it affected. Racism, prejudice, and discrimination is still alive and well in a nation where we would love to forget about it. Unfortunately for them, it is perpetuated every day from media outlets portraying stereotypes of minorities, to our court system where minorities face discrimination at nearly every level of the court process including the prosecutor’s decision whether to charge and the sentence issued by the judge. The severe beating of Rodney King in 1991 by police officers in LA and the resulting LA riots would set into a motion a series of events that brought race to the forefront of the conversation regarding police brutality and misuse of force.


Police brutality is defined as using “excessive physical force or verbal assault” in the pursuance of a crime or the apprehension of an offender (1). Where deadly use of force crosses the line to police brutality is when the use of force exceeds that which is necessary to create a calm and safe environment. According to the Washington Post as of May 30th, 2015, there have been 385 fatal police shootings in so far in 2015 (2). Of those 385 victims, 27% were Black despite Blacks only representing around 14% of the total U.S. population (2). Whites, on the other hand, accounted for 46% of the victims while they represent around 63% of the total U.S. population (2). Blacks are, therefore, overrepresented as victims of fatal police shootings while Whites are underrepresented as victims of fatal police shootings. Furthermore, of the 62 victims who were unarmed when fatally shot, 66% of them were either Black or Hispanic (2). The more publicized incidences of police brutality and misuse of force have sparked a massive response from the public which has resulted in the formation of activist movements such as Black Lives Matter. These movements have made a huge impact on society’s understanding of why Blacks are disproportionately victimized by excessive use of force.

At the heart of the issue is underlying ideas of race including stereotypes we attribute to certain races that affect how we perceive the entirety of the group. Aggression and violence is typically applied to Blacks and is further perpetuated by media outlets such as music and television. Typical portrayals of African Americans as gangsters, drug dealers, and pimps as well as lyrics in rap and hip-hop music that promote violence contributes to society’s behaviors and attitudes towards Blacks. Such stereotypes culminate into the view of Blacks as the prototypical criminal (3). It is no wonder, then, that disproportionate numbers of Blacks are fatally shot by police as there is a greater perceived imminent threat regardless of whether they are armed with a weapon or not. Furthermore, the concept of “negro-phobia” is used to describe the fear of Blacks, specifically the fear of being victimized by Blacks (3). Tamir Rice serves as a prime example of negro-phobia.

Warning: May be graphic for some viewers.

  • How does the Cleveland Police Department’s response to Tamir Rice after the 9-1-1 call reflect ideas of negro-phobia? Do you believe they were justified in their use of force? How could they have handled the situation differently, if at all, to avoid fatally shooting Tamir Rice?
  • Where did these stereotypes of Blacks come from? Where did they originate from in United States history?

Several theories are utilized to explain perceptions of race and police brutality. Social Dominance Theory posits that Whites are the dominant group and, therefore, do not consider police brutality as serious when it disproportionately affects subordinate groups such as Blacks and Hispanics. Whites, then, tend to justify excessive use of force against Blacks, stating that they deserve harsh treatment because they shouldn’t resist arrest, shouldn’t wear “thug” or “gangster” clothes, and shouldn’t partake in drugs. Studies have reflected this theory, as 38% of Whites and 89% of Blacks view the criminal justice system as biased against Blacks, whereas 8% of Blacks and 56% of Whites saw the criminal justice system as treating Blacks fairly. What results is rewards such as promotions, rather than punishments, being given to police officers who commit these acts. Police officers are also exceedingly found not guilty of their charges if taken to court and acquitted with little to no hesitance despite strong evidence such as camcorder footage, witness testimony, and expert analysis being present. Eric Garner’s case involves the acquittal of a police officer charged with the murder of Garner despite overwhelming evidence at odds with the acquittal.

Warning: May be graphic for some viewers (fast-forward to 4:32 to arrive at the onset of the altercation although commentary at the beginning is important).

  • Should Pantaleo, the NYPD police officer who applied the rear naked chokehold, have been found guilty? If so, what charge would you have given to him and why? If not, why do you believe it was the right decision for Pantaleo to be acquitted?

Social Impact Theory, on the other hand, studies situational factors that can augment attitudes towards misuse of force. Specifically, the number of shots fired and the number of officers present are tested to see if they have a positive or negative effect on perceptions of excessive use of force. Results showed that as the number of officers decreased and the number of shots increased, perceptions of excessive use of force were augmented (3) The Amadou Diallo and Michael Brown shootings are cases in which a high number of shots were fired with relatively few officers present at the crime scene.

  • Which theory do you believe affects society’s perceptions of police brutality the most? What other theories/factors play a role?

As mentioned previously, not all police officers are bad and a very small portion of police officers are making headlines for excessive use of force. Law enforcement should be commended for their duty to protect and serve their communities in an ethical and moral manner. Racism and discrimination embedded in the criminal justice system, however, should not be ignored and thought of as nonexistent.


(1) Chaney, C., & Robertson, R. V. (2013). “Racism and Police Brutality in America.” Journal of African American Studies. 17(3): 480-505. Online.

(2) Kindy, K. (2015). “Fatal police shootings in 2015 approaching 400 nationwide.” Washington Post. Online.

(3) Perkins, J. E., & Bourgeois, M. J. (2006). “Perceptions of Police Use of Deadly Force.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 36(1):161-177. Online.

FINAL POST: Defining, Categorizing, and Understanding Mass Shootings In America


Sadly, the above picture is completely accurate. Mass shootings have never been more prominent in America’s history than they are today. In this year alone, there have been more mass shootings than total number of days (381 so far, to be exact). Even now, in 2015, after years of recurring mass shootings, there is still no set definition of what exactly a mass shooting is. No one has yet to define exactly what aspects make up  mass shootings. All that is really set in stone when it comes to the definition of the subject is that someone needs to shoot and kill at least three other people, which does not include the shooter even if they get killed or commit suicide during the act, with a gun. Apparently the number of victims who are injured during an act but not killed is irrelevant to what defines a mass shooting. Therefore 100 people can get shot and injured in a shooting, but if no one dies it’s not a mass shooting. What? That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.

There are many aspects of a mass shooting that add up to make its definition, the most important aspect being that the crime was committed with a gun (obviously). Another important, yet somewhat bizarre quality that defines a mass shooting is the number of deceased, but not injured individuals in the crime. According to the federal government in 2013, “three or more people must die, excluding the shooter” for the crime to be considered a mass murder (Ingraham, 2015). The area in which the shooting takes place also plays a big part in defining a mass shooting. The crime has to take place in a public area in order for it to qualify as a mass shooting. It’s really not that hard to believe that America cannot define what a mass shooting with all these ridiculous qualifications.

What is most difficult about defining a mass shooting is that there are different kinds of them. David Hemenway, a professor at Harvard University, came up with the idea that there are actually three subcategories of mass shootings (Ingraham, 2015). The first of the three categories is gang violence, but we never really see anything on the news or internet about multiple homicide shootouts happening in the ghetto, except for blue guys shooting black guys. Another one of the subcategories is domestic violence, which is basically when a family member goes of their rocker and starts shooting other relatives, usually over substances. The last category is public shootings, which is pretty much self-explanatory. Hemenway’s three category theory seems to be focused around the idea that there is a sort of hierarchy or tier list-like structure when it comes to this specific type of crime.

The main problem with Hemenway’s theory is that he doesn’t take into account the most important aspect of what should define a mass shooting: the motive of the shooter. I almost feel that gang violence and domestic violence aren’t even in the same league as a public shooting due to the motives of each criminal group that commits these acts. You never see or hear of a bunch of gangsters meeting up in some public place to randomly kill people because they’re psychotic or have some radical ideology they’re trying to spread because that is ridiculous. Historically, almost all mass shooters in recent years have committed their acts alone, unless they are committing an act of terrorism but that’s a whole other discussion. These lone gunmen carefully plan out their acts, picking out specific locations and times of day to avoid detection and for max casualties (Frances, 2014). This is why it’s hard to even consider putting domestic and gang violence with public shootings as subcategories of mass shootings, the motives are too different. Another reason why Hemenway’s subcategorization theory (as I call it) is a hard sell is because domestic and gang violence can be predicted and deterred to an extent, unlike psychopaths like James Holmes and Dylann Roof. After being arrested, James Holmes (Aurora shooter) was asked why he chose the theater of all places, he replied saying he thought about choosing an airport. When the officer asked Holmes why he didn’t pick the airport, Holmes responded “because that would be an act of terrorism. Terrorism isn’t the message. The message is, there is no message” (O’Neill, 2015).

In conclusion, we need to better our understanding of what exactly a mass shooting is and what defines them in order to be thinking about any possible solutions. Something that could help people grasp a better understanding of the subject is an implementation of something like Hemenway’s subcategorization idea. The criminal justice system could use the “mass shooting hierarchy” to determine how harsh of a punishment to give shooters of different categories. For example, the category of mass shooting that would receive the harshest punishment would be a premeditated one that the shooter is using to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is essentially an act of terrorism and should receive the harshest punishment. The mass shooting hierarchy is a pretty confusing concept to wrap your head around, but could if implemented correctly.


  1. PLEASE, what defines the term “Mass Shooting”?
  2. Should there really be subcategories of mass shootings? Does it work?
  3. What are some plausible solutions for deterring mass shootings and stopping the exponential growth rate of them WITHOUT mentioning the 2nd Amendment?


Frances, A. (2014, May 30). The Mind Of The Mass Murderer. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

Ingraham, C. (2015, December 3). What makes a ‘mass shooting’ in America. Retrieved December 16, 2015, from

Lafraniere, S., Cohen, S., & Oppel, R. (2015, December 2). How Often Do Mass Shootings Occur? On Average, Every Day, Records Show. Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

Mass Shooting Tracker. (2015, December 7). Retrieved December 14, 2015, from

O’Neill, A. (2015, August 27). James Holmes formally sentenced to life plus 3,318 years – Retrieved December 15, 2015, from

Palazzolo, J., & Flynn, A. (2015, October 3). U.S. Leads World in Mass Shootings. Retrieved December 15, 2015, from

LGBT; Sexual Stigma and Gender Identity

When it comes down to it, the essence of the LGBT movement is about everyday individuals wanting the same chance as everyone else. Whether it’s the ability to earn a living, be safe in one’s community, serving ones country or the biggest thing of all; being with the one you love.

Picture source:

Basic fundamental opportunities everyone should have, and yet they are halted if not stalled. On a federal level companies that have contracts with the government are now prohibited from firing or discriminating against employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity due to an executive order President Obama signed in June of 2014 (Bendery). However, 33 of the 50 states have no state-level gender identity protection, this meaning in over half of the U.S it is perfectly legal for employers to fire employees based solely on their gender identity.  Nor is there a state-level protection for sexual orientation in 29 of the 50 US states. The overhauling idea that merit is null void if they happen to find your gender identity (i.e., transgender) or sexual orientation (i.e., lesbian, gay, bisexual) to be that of conflicting alignment.

In some ways it’s quite flattering to think that what someone does in the privacy of their bedroom carries so much weight in the public sphere. And yet one must ask the question, why does it in fact carry so much weight?



Prevailing argument is that sexual preference shouldn’t in any way be a derisive point in anything but one’s personal choices and can ONLY ever be useful in the dividing of groups which would otherwise agree. Gender identity, not unlike racial segregation and class separation, are not a political statement but a personal one, one which should be treated with the same involvement other people take in when choosing to have breakfast or not.

In June of 2015, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision allowed the right to same sex marriage. Stating “No union more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a martial union, two people become something greater than they once were.Marriage is a “keystone of our social order..”

My personal favorite part..

“adding, that the plaintiffs in the case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law”.



1. Justice Kennedy stated that the plaintiffs in this case were seeking “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” What does that mean to you?

2. Should individuals in the LGBT communities right and protections be intrinsic?

3. If the federal government can ban workplace discrimination against LGBT employees of federal contractors and the federal government, why don’t all the states follow suit?



Bendery, J. (n.d.). It Is Now Illegal For A Federal Contractor To Fire Someone For Being LGBT. Retrieved October 21, 2015.

Deena Fidas and Liz Cooper, The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion: Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters to Employees, Human Rights Campaign (May 2015): p. 4-5.

Deena Fidas and Liz Cooper, The Cost of the Closet and the Rewards of Inclusion: Why the Workplace Environment for LGBT People Matters to Employees, Human Rights Campaign (May 2015): p. 4-5.

Liptak, A. (2015, June 26). Supreme Court Ruling Makes Same-Sex Marriage a Right Nationwide. Retrieved October 20, 2015.

Patriarchy: An Outdated Ideal? Or Necessity for a Thriving World?

We know memes, The patriarchy is here! The argument against being a feminist
We know memes, The patriarchy is here! The argument against being a feminist

For the betterment of our intelligence I challenge you to think critically of the arguments you may or may not have concerning Patriarchy. To go even farther, think what that word means to you. Can you think of an instance where Patriarchy or Matriarchy is a good thing? Do you simply see it as a means of oppression and power? Or as a way of showing love by sacrificing to provide happiness for the ones that matter to you? I want to show you what the mainstream media and various social institutions won’t allow… that Patriarchy, in its truest form, is good for society. That the word Patriarchy has been dragged through the muck and along the way picked up the image of privileged, lazy, and greedy men not wanting women to enjoy the same freedoms.

Patriarchy is not some fabricated oppressive strategy formulated by a conclave of sexist men who made a pact to keep their gender “on top”. In fact Patriarchy stems from basic biological differences in males and females. Men cannot exist without females and females cannot exist without males, that being said however, females have the most vital components for the continuation of life. The carrying of the next generation. Men on the other hand are needed “technically” for only one step in this entire process. And we all know which one that is. Throughout history though we don’t see mass communities based solely on females while the men meander around independently only to show up to fulfill their “one job”. This is because of Patriarchy, the idea of men being the prominent member, the leader, of the family. It is simple biology, women are not as physically strong naturally as men, women are also not as capable of independence (true independence) while pregnant. Men however are perfectly suited to provide and work every day of their lives upon reaching maturity. If you take a step back you can see that this isn’t an issue of preventing one gender from freedom but rather conforming to roles that are the easiest and most natural so that the human race can thrive. The reason this makes sense is because humans are communal creatures. We were not made to be alone in the world. Without social contact we struggle and decline. However in a social setting, a community, we thrive. “In patriarchy, men sacrifice their energy, their time, and sometimes even their lives for the betterment of women and children, and women give themselves to nurturing children and families. Feminists define patriarchy as a system of dominance, in which men oppress women. This redefines men’s sacrifice as an act of control, rather than love.”Link <- disclaimer this website offers some more extreme views, they are not necessarily fact but opinion, you are free to interpret in any way you see fit but an open mind can truly help you evolve as an intellectual!

Why Patriarchy is the greatest social system ever created-Return of Kings
Why Patriarchy is the greatest social system ever created-Return of Kings

So… how does all this tie into criminal justice? What if i said abolishing the patriarchy leads to more crime? Lets look at why we work, more specifically why men used to always choose to work and pursue the highest paying job they can net. What is their drive to do so? if you are living alone do you need to work 50 or even 60 hours a week to survive and be happy? No in fact living alone the average person wouldn’t need to work that hard to get by. For a single adult living in king county the living wage is $11.19 which is barely above minimum. Not hard to achieve after a year or so working a low end job and the plus side is you don’t even need higher education to achieve this… However for 2 adults and lets say 1 kid in an ideal situation where 1 parent is working the living wage jumps to $21.51. No longer can an uneducated, unmotivated individual attain this. Don’t believe me? check out the living wage calculator yourself. An unintentional loss by promoting feminism and the abolishment of the patriarchy is the prevalence of work less and enjoy your time more, don’t sacrifice your time working for a corporation to make more when you don’t need it to survive. This mindset of be independent and live a minimalistic life has taken the motivation for hard work out of the equation. So what do we get with a populace of uneducated individuals with lots of free time on their hands? These statistics are what we get. link

Based on the above graph Income is apparently directly related to crime. To round up this post and get off my soapbox that I am sure is covered in rotten food thrown by the reader by now I will conclude that Patriarchy is a positive social system. That being said however I do believe in equality and feel a different word is needed to level against males exerting dominance and oppression while feeding their superiority complex. These males incorrectly use patriarchy by believing their job is any more important than their partners. That is sexism and that is unjust and should be readily punishable by law. How about we officially call them pricks. All I am putting forth is that males are natural leaders and breadwinners, without that job, s*** tends to hit the fan and we as a society suffer because of it. In my opinion respect for each gender is the key to solving these problems. If a male could come to terms with seeing that females have a rough life as well, there would be far less problems by abolishing the entitlement that all so easily leads to abuse.


  1. How has the patriarchy benefitted you or your family?
  2. Could we still achieve equality within a patriarchy?
  3. Is there a problem with masculinity and strength in todays relationships?
  4. What are your thoughts on a female supporting a stay at home husband and child and vice versa. Would you be happy knowing your other half doesn’t work 8 hours a day mon-fri and relies solely on the money you make?

Race as it Pertains to Police Brutality in the United States

Increasing public awareness of police misconduct, primarily the use of excessive force or “police brutality” against unarmed Blacks, has sparked outrage amongst many communities throughout the United States. Reinvigorated in the early 1990s by the ferocious beating of Rodney King and perpetuated by the fatal shootings of unarmed teenagers Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida and Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri, activist movements such as “Black Lives Matter” have been established throughout the United States. These movements campaign against police brutality; specifically what they perceive to be the wanton use of excessive physical force against Black citizens. Compiling the total number of fatal shootings by police since May 30th, 2015, The Washington Post found that although Blacks represent only 14% of the total U.S. population, Blacks accounted for more than 27% of victims fatally shot by police so far in 2015. Victim over-representation was not found for Hispanics or Asians, although the 31 “unknown” race victims could sway results. Whites are especially underrepresented as victims of fatal police shootings relative to their percentage of the population, as Whites constitute around 63% of the U.S. population but only account for 46% of victims of fatal police shootings in 2015 so far. Considerably more striking when looking at the data from a racial perspective is that of the 62 victims or 16% of the victim total who were unarmed or found to be carrying a toy gun, around 66% were Black or Hispanic. Based on the data, Blacks seem to be perceived as more dangerous than Whites regardless of whether they have a gun or not pointing to a history of prejudice and racism. This could not have been expressed more clearly than in the Tamir Rice case. Cleveland police on November 22nd, 2014 shot and killed 12-year old Tamir Rice after a 9-1-1 caller reported a juvenile was playing with a gun that was “probably fake” in a nearby park. The gun did actually end up being a toy gun that his friend had given him to play with only minutes before he was pronounced dead.  After absorbing this data, consider this question:


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  • What do you believe to be the cause of Black over-representation in victim data regarding fatal police shootings? (e.g., Blacks being targeted by their race, Blacks committing more crimes than other races).

A statistic Blacks are not over-represented in, however, and considered by many BLM activists as one of the leading causes of police brutality is their overall representation in law enforcement. According to a survey by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, Black officers constitute just 12% of local police officers. Even more troubling is the fact that many police departments do not reflect the demographics of the jurisdiction in which they operate. For example, Ferguson, Missouri where Michael Brown was shot and killed has a 29% white population and a 67% Black population yet only three of the 53-officer department or 5% are Black. There is a clear disparity between minorities in the community and minorities working in law enforcement, especially for Blacks. Such a disparity could be due to a lack of trust towards law enforcement by the black community. Blacks with criminal records also find it difficult to pass backgrounds checks and application tests required to join the police force. There is, therefore, disconnect between law enforcement and the communities in which they work as differences in culture between primarily white law enforcement and Black communities, more than likely suffering through poverty and its adverse effects, creates a divide between the two.

  • What types of policies or prerequisites should the Criminal Justice System enforce to substantially diminish the occurrence of police misconduct, especially towards minorities? What has already been done? Can anything effective be done?

What could be considered even more bizarre is how these fatal police shootings typically begin as minor traffic violations such as traffic stops or domestic disturbances. Below are two cases that exemplify these occurrences.

  • Samuel Dubose:

  • Eric Garner:

Question to ponder:

  • Do you believe that police brutality, especially towards minorities, in the United States is on the rise or are advancements in technology over the past decade (cellphone camcorders, police cameras, etc.) contributing to the increasing number of police misconduct reports.
    • Fact: More than 60% of Americans now carry video enabled mobile devices.


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