Clarion, Pa.- On Monday, Feb. 2, the Clarion University National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted
an open discussion for the campus and community to discuss the issue of police brutality.
Leaders of the discussion included student members of NAACP Cordell Ratliff, Fred Buckner, Chelsea Howa and Megan Rockey.
The definition of police brutality that was discussed at the event is “the excessive use or unnecessary force used by police on civilians.”
Police brutality is nothing new to history, as people have been facing it since the 1700’s.
During times of slavery, Slave Patrols, also known as Paddyrollers, were used to track down and capture runaway slaves.
Being caught by these groups usually meant an intense beating, usually to the brink of death.
After slavery was abolished, these groups were disbanded, only to be replaced with hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Recently there have been a significant number of incidents that have made national news coverage, and cause many heated debates on police brutality.
Events such as the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, both involving African American males and white male police officers, sparked unrest when the officers involved were not indicted on charges for the deaths.
Brown’s death unleashed week’s long protests in Ferguson, Missouri, where he was shot and killed.
Garner’s death was caught on video, a common tool for people in society to capture police brutality. Other cases of violent acts by police caught on camera include the beating of 15 year old Malika Calhoun in a jail cell.
Calhoun was arrested for riding in a stolen car, and when she was being placed in her holding cell she became “lippy” with the police officer, who threw her against a wall and hit her twice. Other incidents involve Cassandra Feuerstein, a white woman from Illinois, who was arrested for DUI charges. She was pushed into her cell where she hit her face against a cement bench, shattering her orbital and cheek bones in her face, causing her to need emergency reconstructive surgery.
Recently, many officers and political leaders have called for the banning of recording equipment for police officers, while others demand body cameras be placed on every officer. Students and community members gathered at the open discussion spoke up, with all believing that cops actions should be recorded. With the rising threats against police officers, it was considered best by the gathered group that cameras be used to determine exactly what happened during a police altercation, especially in the case of a death or injury. Student Brana Hill spoke up saying, “No one deserves to die.”
Another topic of discussion was recent Stop and Frisk programs that were enacted in cities like Detroit and New York City. These programs allow an officer to stop anyone they believe “suspicious” and frisk them. In 2011, over 684,000 people were stopped and frisked, with the large majority being African American or Hispanic. The anger over what is considered racial profiling in programs like this is very strong.
Members of the discussion believe strongly in racial profiling of some police officers and departments, and stated that they believed there are many good police officers out there but there are still many injustices that happen when the wrong people are put into positions of power. They all strongly believed that these issues need addressed and corrected.