“I DIDN’T DO NOTHING, LEAVE ME ALONE!”

Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Freddie Grey, these are some of the men who have recently been killed by police brutality in the United States of America. All of these men who were killed by law enforcement were unarmed and innocent, one (that being Mike Brown) was a teenager who was gunned down by the police officer who believed that he had stolen from a convenient store. Garner and Grey unlike Brown was not mercilessly gunned down alternatively both these men died somewhat in police custody, Garner was strangled to death by police for breaking up a fight and Grey sustained serious injuries while in police custody and later died in hospital.

The slue of minority citizen killings at the hands of police sparked the outrage of a nation, which lead to national and global protests. Masses of people marched in the name of the deceased, carrying posters that protested the words “I can’t breathe!” which were the last words uttered by Eric Garner. These racially motivated series of protests became known as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement which recognises the denial of basic human rights and dignity of black people and advocates racial equality in all facets of life especially in the eyes of the law. Shortly after the huge amounts of protests the American government was under a global pressure to make changes to its police force, which resulted in various states implementing the use of body cameras on all officers.

This is a great achievement for the minority groups with in the United States as it would reduce police brutality as a whole, as well as cases of police brutality based on racial profiling. However police brutality in South Africa is still a huge issue, it is not frequently covered by South African media as it is commonplace, but cases of extreme police are covered by the media. Much like the incident in early 2013 where a taxi driver was filmed being handcuffed and dragged behind a police vehicle for hundreds of yards, where he soon after died from injuries sustained from being dragged as well as being beaten by law enforcers in his cell. The tremendous violence used by the police cannot be attributed to the racial stereotypes which are seen as a factor in the U.S.’s version of police brutality, in South Africa the majority is black thus making many of the police officers black as well therefore rejecting that version. The only viable reason for the police brutality in South Africa is ability to be remnants of the military Apartheid state.

During the period of Apartheid the police was employed by the government to subdue the masses, as civil unrest was beginning boil under the surface. As South Africa was a militaristic state severe forms of violence were used and many times the South African army was used to patrol streets. Thus due to experiencing such extreme violence in past encounters with the police, ‘new’ police officers are under the impression that this is the only way in which to conduct themselves and get results.

In order to find a solution to this ongoing problem and abuse of power, law enforcers should under go strict screenings and background checks as to weed out any previous criminal activity. As a whole police officials should also conduct frequent check ups on the various branches and prioritise cases made against police officers concerning police brutality.

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