It is no secret that police brutality exists and is often targeted towards minority groups particularly African American and Latino citizens. Almost daily throughout the country, there are news reports depicting the inhumane nature of police interactions with people of color. Also on social media, news feeds and twitter pages are filled with accounts about vicious attacks made by police on marginalized groups, and these attacks many times result in unnecessary death or trauma.
For people of color, police engagement instills a deep sense of fear and resentment towards those who are tasked with protecting and serving our communities. Historically, police departments have been used as legal enforcers for racial oppression. Most Caucasians see police officers simply working to maintain their safety while most people of color feel terrorized by them. Almost always, police are given a slap on the wrist for police brutality and excessive uses of force. Very rarely are they charged with their crimes, even when their actions result in unjustified homicide.
As I write, I remember two unwarranted deaths that had occurred while I lived in Pittsburgh. Both victims were African American and unarmed- one was a teenager and the other was a mentally ill adult. The teenager was shot and killed for walking home in his community, called the Hill District. The other was tased to death in front of a gas station.
I also think about LaQuan McDonald, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and the countless number of victims that die yearly because of police brutality. Let us give them a moment of silence to honor their memory and direct compassion towards their families. During 2015 alone, police killed more than 100 unarmed African Americans, which means at least two unarmed African Americans are killed each week by police in the United States.
However, now there is hope to make an inhumane and unjust police system answer for brutality against minority groups. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Missouri recently created a free mobile justice app that can be downloaded to any smart phone in order to hold the police system of Missouri accountable for its numerous attacks against marginalized groups. Since the killing of Michael Brown, police brutality has exponentially grown in Missouri, which inspired the creation of this app to halt its prevalence.
This app, known as ACLU of Missouri Mobile Justice App 2, is free to anyone and offers many features that empower the community to act against police brutality. The four main features of this app include: 1) Recording, 2) Witnessing, 3) Reporting, and 4) Educating about rights. It allows app holders to record instances of brutal police encounters that are instantly emailed to ACLU of Missouri. It also alerts other app users in the area of police brutality so that they can bear witness and offer testimony against police officers.
Additionally, it allows victims and witnesses of police brutality to accurately report inhumane and unlawful encounters with the police. Lastly, this app educates its users about their rights as citizens, which includes the right to videotape police brutality despite what is said by police officers. Thus, this app provides a mechanism to stop police brutality through visibility and accountability.
ACLU of Missouri cautions the usage of this app since police officers are armed and dangerous. They suggest that users announce to police that they are reaching for their phone, while also reminding officers that recording is a civil liberty. Ultimately if your life is in danger, app creators suggest that you put down the phone. However, once the recording is initiated, it automatically alerts others and is sent to ACLU of Missouri’s email.
This app is a first and necessary step in ending police brutality against minority groups in the United States. Other states can now model the creation their own mobile justice app in order to hold police accountable throughout the country. More importantly, this app allows citizens across the United States to become educated about the cruel nature of police interactions in order to activate change within their communities.
This app empowers us citizens to prevent the unnecessary killing of unarmed minority citizens. #BlackLivesMatter just as much as white lives. Hispanic lives matter, Muslim lives, Asian lives, and Native American Lives too, but we cannot have justice until people of color lives matter just as much as white lives. Our police can no longer serve to protect solely its white members while targeting and killing minority groups.
Filming police brutality? Of course there’s an app for that
Posted by NowThis on Friday, May 1, 2015