It was April 29, 1992 and it was my twelve birthday. My mom gave me a little chocolate cake with a plastic surfer riding a wave on top of it. We were watching television while I was getting ready to blow out my candles. There was a disturbance in South Central Los Angeles that the news helicopters were covering on every channel. There were crowds of people flooding the intersection of Florence and Normandy acting rowdy and getting aggressive toward passing cars.
They stopped cars and pulled people out of them. The news cameras were right on top of it all of the way. Reginald Deny was taken out of his semi-truck and severely beaten. You could see people enthused about beating this defenseless man. One man grabbed a brick and threw it at Denys head then began to dance with enthusiasm. The majority of the crowd were black and they were harassing any other race that happened to go through their neighborhood.Order now
The crowd got out of control setting fire to cars and the violence was quickly spreading to other blocks around the neighborhood. I continued to eat my cake as I watched the news broadcasting the surging violence. The crowd was reacting to the acquittal, just hours earlier, of the four police officers in the beating of Rodney King2 . People couldnt believe the outcome. The beating of Rodney King was videotaped and shown over and over to the public. People believed that finally there was going to be justice.
They believed that there was clear-cut evidence showing what has been complained about for years. Finally people who had never believed the accounts of police brutality existed witnessed it for themselves. Finally the public as a whole could react and try to control the officers that abuse their power. But instead, the officers were acquitted, and the
public felt betrayed. Especially the black community who was fed up with their complaints falling on deaf ears. They were fed up and they resorted to rioting.
For five days the violence persisted and spread further and further out of the ghetto reaching across the borders of the black communities of South Central and into adjacent neighborhoods. The subject of police brutality was thrown into the eyes of the public. People could no longer ignore the problem and the city of Los Angeles was made the example of citizens frustrations in clouds of smoke and looted communities .
Police brutality is defined as the unauthorized exercise of police discretion where the policeman acts without the formal capacity to impose legal sanctions (Rucheelman 133). The officers are given the power to use their best judgment in all situations. The main complaint is that the police often use force that is unnecessary.
The police argue that they use force in order to protect themselves. The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics (International Association of Chiefs of Police) begins as follows: As a Law Enforcement Officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful against violence and disorder; and to respect the Constitutional rights of all men to liberty, equality, and justice (Ruchelman 17). It later addresses prejudices and violence stating: I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisionsI will enforce the law courteously
and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or violence and never accepting gratuities (Ruchelman 17). The line between police brutality and the proper force used in any situation is not always clearly drawn. Police officers are in constant danger and need to control people in order to handle certain situations. Police officers need to calculate the amount of force needed as their situations develop.
Their are two kinds of police brutality. One occurs when emotions run high for example, during mass demonstrations or riots. The other kind is carried out systematically and regularly in the line of duty and is often times fueled by stress, frustration, racial intolerance or for intimidation. The second type of misconduct is deliberate and calculating and is potentially more disturbing to .