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Police Brutality & Defunding Police
To further examine the claim of police brutality, I’ve chosen to look at the Human Right’s Watch (Links to an external site.) report. Researchers Julie Ciccolini and Ida Sawyer took an in depth look at the Mott Haven protest in Bronx, NY to bring a further understanding of the troubling condition that has become police violence. This is how they establish their grounds for their claim. The protest that resulted in at least 61 cases of police-inflicted injuries on attendees is used as their typifying example. The researchers use primary sources complied of videos and interviews with protestors to communicate the extremity of event. They describe the protestors as helpless, with police “kettling (Links to an external site.)” them together. The results of the traumatic event are used as the statistics to scope the problem at hand. Though it’s an estimate, the HRW counted “21 incidents of police beating protesters with batons, in many cases while standing atop a parked car; 11 incidents of police officers punching or kicking protesters; 19 incidents of police slamming, tackling, or dragging protesters…” (Ciccolini 2020) and the list goes on. These numbers are evidence for the warrants that their claim is based on. Many are listed to appeal to many different. Sawyer and Ciccolini claim that this particular event demonstrated a risk to public health as police officers ripped face masks off of protestors and herded them together after making arrests. In addition, human and civil rights were violated not only with protestors, but of legal observers and medics responding to help protestors. They explain that the police’s response will cost money paid by taxpayers, but the police will not be held accountable. As they wrap up their claim, Sawyer and Ciccolini demand “comprehensive reforms, structural changes, and a reimagining of public safety” (Ciccolini 2020). By this, they mean, “State and local officials should take meaningful action to reduce the role of police in addressing societal problems, including through significant decreases to the size and budget of the police force.” (Ciccolini 2020).
As they listed a number of warrants for their claim, it’s evident that they are trying to communicate to a number of people. The main two groups that are being targeted are civil and human rights activists because they are most likely to support the claim; otherwise known as preaching to the choir. These groups are the first to react to any violation against human/civic rights. The mention of taxpayer dollars is a dog whistle for American citizens, as they care about where their money is being used. The last two warrants public health rings in medical professionals and government officials, because that is one of the values they focus on.
Though these researchers have laid out their claim effectively and it communicates all of the strongest points of the argument, I notice one problem. There is a lot of mixed information and misunderstanding regarding defunding the police. When America’s masses hear “defund”, they think that means getting rid of police entirely. I feel that this piece laid out the true meaning of what is meant when activists call for defunding the police. That being said, it was used scarcely throughout the report. While it’s important to name the troubling condition, I feel like (in this case at least), it’s also important to name the conclusion.
Ciccolini, J. Sawyer, I. (2020, Sept 30.) Kettling Protestors in the Bronx. Human Rights Watch. https://www.hrw.org/report/2020/09/30/kettling-protesters-bronx/systemic-police-brutality-and-its-costs-united-states#3992 (Links to an external site.)
Adamcyzk, A. (2020, June 15.) What it actually means to ‘defund the police’. CNBC. What it actually means to ‘defund the police’ (cnbc.com)