We Need to Address Police Brutality in Alabama

E.J. Bradford. Chikesia Clemons. Ulysses Wilkerson. Sureshbhai Patel. Greg Gunn.

These are only a few of the names of those who have been in headlines after being brutalized or killed at the hands of law enforcement in the state of Alabama in recent years. Each of these incidents represents a state-wide pattern of police using excessive, and sometimes fatal, force against the people they’re supposed to protect and serve. Disproportionately, the victims are people of color with the violence occurring during routine interactions with police.

Given their authority to use force in certain circumstances, police officers must be held accountable when they abuse or misuse their extraordinary powers. It is crucial that those entrusted with such authority be committed to using it sparingly, equitably, legally, and in a racially unbiased way and that police departments have the proper policies in place to ensure its officers use force appropriately.

That’s why last week the ACLU of Alabama and the Alabama NAACP filed public records requests with police departments in Birmingham, Mobile, Montgomery, Hoover, Huntsville, and Saraland to turn over their use-of-force policies, body camera policies, and racial bias training materials. By collecting this information, we can evaluate the policies and practices of law enforcement and determine if officers in the field are being trained to recognize how implicit bias toward people of color can lead to individuals of color being wrongfully accused, brutalized, and killed.

Black and brown Alabamians shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the agents and officials who are charged with protecting them. Far too often, the concept of “reasonable force” has been distorted or stretched beyond belief to justify police officers killing or seriously injuring people of color for indefensible reasons.

Take E.J. Bradford for example. He had the right, like all Black and brown Alabamians, to carry a concealed weapon. Yet on the night of his death, a Hoover police officer saw E.J.’s gun, deemed him a threat rather than being considered “one of the good guys,” and shot him to death from behind. The deaths of people like E.J. are a constant reminder of the mistrust people of color have toward the police.

Most police, however, aren’t taking the problem seriously. A Pew Research Center poll released in 2017 found that two-thirds of the nation’s police officers believe the deaths of Black Americans during encounters with police are isolated incidents and not an indication of broader problems between law enforcement and the Black community. This reveals a disconnect between law enforcement and Black people. Culture shifts and internal reform are needed to prompt agents of the law to foster a positive, trusting relationship with communities they serve.

Our information request is the first step towards changing the culture of policing in Alabama and initiating reform. We hope to build a database of policing policies so that the people of Alabama can read their police department’s policies on use-of-force, body cameras, and racial bias. And after comparing these policies, we will offer our own model policies so that police can rebuild the trust they’ve lost across the state while ensuring police understand what constitutional policing is.

The people of Alabama deserve police forces that serve and protect all communities equally. Our information request is the first step toward making that a reality.

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Anonymous

So, you tell us your conclusion and cite one example? EJ Bradford? And you admit he had a handgun? Can you understand that he was likely shot because he was holding a gun when officers confronted him? Or would you prefer to belive the police shot him because of his skin color? I can launch a similar campaign claiming that people are shot by police because they are white.

Anonymous

You have alternative facts? How novel.

Ms. Gloria Anasyrma

Why do the police need to shoot people anyway? Shouldn't they be helping old ladies across the street, rescuing kittens from trees, and collecting toys for tots.

Anonymous

Holding a gun isn't illegal. 2nd Amendment. EJ was shot in the back and police already admitted he wasn't brandishing a weapon after changing their story dozens of times.

Anonymous

You spelled believe wrong. Just thought you would want to know. It might give you a better argument if you can actually spell.

Anonymous

I think Americans need to fundamentally change the way they understand what the police's job is. The ACLU, a group of lawyers, states above, "Black and brown Alabamians shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the agents and officials who are charged with protecting them." The problem here is this misunderstands what the police's job is. It is not the job of the police to "protect and serve." Their job is exclusively to enforce the law period. The Supreme Court has in fact ruled that the police are not legally required to help or protect any member of the public. Moreover, police are trained to be warriors. They have unbreakable solidarity with one another and do not view themselves as members of the public as demonstrated by their use of the term civilians a distinction until recently reserved for the military/non-military distinction. Police are trained to view themselves under constant threat and that self preservation is more important than public safety. These are not opinions, but the letter of the laws that govern how law enforcement is allowed to operate. Frankly, the public has virtually no control over the police. Until we reign in police power and adjust legislation defining the duties of police, this won't change. Police forces are allowed to operate with more autonomy than any other governmental entity and the sparing oversight doesn't mean anything. The public is deceived into thinking body cams or footage shot of the police matters. It doesn't since the law is the issue and the law says for all intensive purposes, the police are always right. We have. a lot of work to do.
Signed an ex LEO

Chuy

The act of being stupid doesn't have a color . Kids are raised by a parent or parents
Who's life yea probably not dealt a good hand think you own them . Well cops have that
30 second chance to play it out . Kindness is taken for.weakness it's a game or not
At that second flight or fight a bad place to be in for both .can it be fixed
Don't think so it will take the parents and police and out side help
The Internet is not helping at all.... I hope it will be used to teach instead of
Corrupt . You tube is the worst of them all

Anonymous

pooo

Anonymous

So, you tell us your conclusion and cite one example? EJ Bradford? And you admit he had a handgun? Can you understand that he was likely shot because he was holding a gun when officers confronted him? Or would you prefer to belive the police shot him because of his skin color? I can launch a similar campaign claiming that people are shot by police because they are white.

Anonymous

I think Americans need to fundamentally change the way they understand what the police's job is. The ACLU, a group of lawyers, states above, "Black and brown Alabamians shouldn’t have to live in constant fear of the agents and officials who are charged with protecting them." The problem here is this misunderstands what the police's job is. It is not the job of the police to "protect and serve." Their job is exclusively to enforce the law period. The Supreme Court has in fact ruled that the police are not legally required to help or protect any member of the public. Moreover, police are trained to be warriors. They have unbreakable solidarity with one another and do not view themselves as members of the public as demonstrated by their use of the term civilians a distinction until recently reserved for the military/non-military distinction. Police are trained to view themselves under constant threat and that self preservation is more important than public safety. These are not opinions, but the letter of the laws that govern how law enforcement is allowed to operate. Frankly, the public has virtually no control over the police. Until we reign in police power and adjust legislation defining the duties of police, this won't change. Police forces are allowed to operate with more autonomy than any other governmental entity and the sparing oversight doesn't mean anything. The public is deceived into thinking body cams or footage shot of the police matters. It doesn't since the law is the issue and the law says for all intensive purposes, the police are always right. We have. a lot of work to do.

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