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Amber Wynn
Professor Batty
English 113A
21 October 2014
Protected by Enemies
Police Officers are here to protect and make others feel protected, but who do you turn to
when you need protection from them? Police brutality against African Americans is a rising
conflict that has become a disgustingly common occurrence. Police brutality is extremely racist
and very little is being done to the police officers because of their race. The political cartoon I
chose clearly displays the depths of police brutality on African Americans; it displays various
aspects of cruel and unusual punishment by the officers to the African American community.
Society does nothing about this issue, which is only opening doors for police officers to do what
they want and get away with it. The black community does everything they can to bring attention
to these racial actions by rebelling and standing up for what they believe in, however, their
voices are silenced by societys lack of care. The police officers involved in these racist activities
are quick to express how the wrong they do has nothing to do with race, but what they know is
right versus what is wrong or self-defense. African Americans, more so men, are perceived as
threats to society; because of this, they are seen as targets to police officers and are dangerous to
many people. These stereotypes of African American men affect them psychologically in ways
that society either does not know or simply doesnt care about. The political cartoon is just a
mild example of the disgusting treatment African Americans deal with on the regular basis,
whether they actually do something wrong or not. To society, being African American is a crime
in itself.

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The political cartoon I chose is an example of police brutality against African Americans.
According to uslegal.com, Police brutality is defined as A civil rights violation that occurs when
a police officer acts with excessive force by using an amount of force with regards to a civilian
that is more than necessary(uslegal). The cartoon is of police officers brutally beating two
young African American children black and blue even though theyve already surrendered. In the
cartoon there are a total of three police officers, one white male and two black males. Although
there are black officers in this cartoon as well as there is a white one, I consider this cartoon an
extremely racist one. It isnt easy in society for African Americans to obtain careers of such high
social standards like a policeman due to the fact that African Americans are stereotyped so
negatively. Because of that, many of the few African Americans that do have the privilege of
obtaining the job have to let go of their self- identity and take on the role as that of a white male
in order to survive in the field. They, in a way, become another white police officer because they
feel the need to prove themselves to them. The cartoon is a perfect example of this. The two
black policemen are going against their own people just to go along with the white police
officers actions. Their batons are swinging repeatedly onto the victims with great deal of
unnecessary force. The childrens eyes are purple, representing black eyes that the officers gave
them. Their hands are up above their faces, trying to block the blows of the batons and also show
that they surrender to the officers; however, the officers do not care. These officers are abusing
their powers in ways that should lead them into jail, but due to the fact that there is a white
officer participating in this brutal beating, they will more than likely not be sentenced at all or
receive one, but get out early.
This cartoon is more than just a few policemen beating children to a pulp, it has deeper
meaning. The artist is trying to convey something else as well. The subject of the image arent

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facing the audience, however, they are aware of the audiences existence and do not care. The
beatings are taken place out in the open doors, where others are liable to see, but that does not
matter to the policemen. They know they can be seen and they do not care because as the police,
they know not much can be done to them. This is a representation to white policemen in society.
They feel as though they have the freedom to do whatever they want, without consequence,
which is true to a certain extent. White policeman are frequently able to get away with murder
because of the title they hold and he color of their skin. Because of this, the cycle will forever
continue. The policemen are positioned over the children, as a representation of superiority. The
policemen feel as though theyre more important than the African American children on the
ground because of the title they hold. This is similar to societys view on police officers in
general. Theyre seen as superior beings because they hold a gun for a living; this is not the truth
though. Police officers are human beings just like everyone else. The background of the image
contains a police car with Salisbury Police written on it to convey that these policemen are
officers of the Salisbury, North Carolina police department. The image is a representation of the
brutal treatment African Americans receive in that city. This image was produced shortly after
the Felicia Gibson caseA young woman sat outside her home, recording the policemen as they
victimized her neighbors. A policeman targeted her recording and demanded her and her family
to go back inside their home. In the process of doing so, the officer claimed that he heard
someone giggle and proceeded to pursue Felicia inside her home, drug her out, and took her to
jail for reasons in which she did not deserve (uslegal). This image was not directly produced to
be an example of this case specifically, but instead it was drawn to display what the Salisbury
Police Officers are capable of. Overall, this political cartoon is a marvelous example of racial
discrimination against African Americans by white officers.

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Racial Prejudice against African Americans can cause serious psychological damage and
alter ones view of themselves as an individual. In the article Black Men and Public Spaces by
Brent Staples, he explains how because of the way society views him as an individual, he goes
the extra mile to make sure he doesnt give off the wrong idea to anyone he encounters on a
regular day basis. I began to take precautions to make myself less threatening. I move about
with care, particularly late in the evening(186). Staples makes sure tat every move he makes is
as calm and non-threatening as possible. The stereotypes of black men being robbers, muggers,
killers, etc. are very much believed by police officers. The white police officers spot African
Americans and automatically assume that theyre up to no good. They pursue them even if
theyre harming no one and eventually attack them for no reason. This is what police brutality
against African Americans is mostly about. White police officers targeting innocent black people
and treating them as if they arent worth more than the scum at the bottom of their shoes.
Some people may argue that police officers that abuse their powers towards African
Americans arent doing it in a racist manner, that the officers are simply targeting people who
appear to be up to no good. They may argue that it only appears to be racist because African
Americans get targeted often, but thats due to the fact that theyre the race in which commits the
most crimes, however, these reasons are all invalid. There is no excuse for police brutality.
African Americans are targeted and taken advantage of because theyre the race that is thought
the lowest of. Theyre treated unfairly and the policemen deserve to be punished versus taken up
Racism among the African American culture is not dead. It is very much alive today and
the only thing covering it up is the lies and excuses people tell. The political cartoon is an eye
opener to the fact that society approves of this type of horrific behavior among police officers.

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Black men should never have to come up with various ways to make themselves not seem a
certain way because of societys perception of them. African Americas should never fear a group
of people who are supposed to be here to protect them. Who is really here for them besides their
own kind? No one.

Works Cited

"Police Brutality Law & Legal Definition." Police Brutality Law & Legal Definition. N.p., n.d.

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Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://definitions.uslegal.com/p/police-brutality/>.

Staples , Brent . "Black Men and Public Spaces ." Thematic Readings: An Anthology. New York
: McGraw-Hill , 2003. 182-186. Print.
"Upcoming City Council Election's Number Three Issue: Police Civil Rights Violations." Rowan
Free Press. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2014.


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