Richard California

Letter to the President

Racial discrimination from cops

Dear Mr. President,

The topic of this letter in which I am writing about is to address the racial discrimination going on in this country of ours. Some of it is just people and their perspective about the other race. Which I know can be a hard, and most likely impossible, thing to change. There is a lot of discrimination within the local police force however, and that is the major problem I want to talk about here.

People have been discriminating against other races for a long part of our American history, going all the way back to the Trail of Tears with the Native Americans. However, my focus is going to be on African Americans. Police and the law system have proven to be bias towards criminals or victims of the white ethnicity. My first piece of evidence is the Florida death penalty. I did a little research into this and found that it looks like white and African American criminals had no discrimination on to who was put on death row, but if you look at their victims, it tells a different story. Cases where there was a white victim drew a higher percentage of death rows then cases where the victim was African American. This is called Simpson’s Paradox, where the same set of data can appear to show opposite trends depending on how you group them. It often occurs when aggregated data hides a conditional variable. I also read the Rodney King beating scenario. Where four white police officers struck Rodney more than fifty times with their batons and used a stun gun on him! This was after he got out of his car and put his hands on his head and complied to what they told him to do! Then while they were beating him they proceeded to shout “We are going to kill you, n***er.” Like honestly these are the people who are supposed to keep us safe and make us feel protected. Honestly though, when I see a cop when I’m driving or walking in the street I get a little scared and put my hoodie up so I can avoid eye contact. So far my blanket is doing a better job at making me feel safe and protected that then they are.

This paragraph will be about the times when police officers or someone in the position to “keep the peace” like neighborhood watch or something along those lines have shot and killed. I’ll start off with a known topic to get the ball rolling, the Trayvon Martin shooting. This is a case where neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon while he was on his way visiting his father. Zimmerman had been given instructions not to approach the suspicious character, he ignored that. He acknowledges shooting Martin claiming it was in self defense. In the case report Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and back of his head. “Marginally consistent with a life-threatening episode, as described by George, which neither a deadly weapon or deadly force was displayed by Trayvon Martin.” So how can it be self defense if Trayvon didn’t use any force towards George? Gets you thinking doesn’t it. This is reported police shootings in the past few years on a scale of white vs black people. In 2015 1,502 people were shot and killed by police. 732 were white, 381 were black, and 382 were an unknown race. Doesn’t seem too discriminatory does it? Let’s take a look at that Simpson’s Paradox I was talking about earlier. White people make up about 62 percent of U.S population but only 49 percent of them were killed by police. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed despite them being only 13 percent of the U.S population. Police have killed the same number of unarmed white people as they did black people, 50. But good old Simpson’s Paradox likes to shed some light where we might not be able to see. Since the white population is about five times bigger than the black population, that makes unarmed black people five times more likely to be shot and killed then an unarmed white person! Really puts things into perspective. All of the unarmed people police shot and killed in 2015, 40 percent of them were black. Even though they only make up 6 percent of the nation’s population!

Some of these confrontations that lead to an unarmed black person getting shot and killed or beat can stem from an element of fear. Anything ranging from basing the person off of their stereotypes or just simply not knowing or understanding their culture. So I also think cops can use a little bit more education about the cultures of the different types of people living in their area. So they can get a better understanding of how that person may act or how they do things. If they came here from a different place they might have done things differently. You can’t always expect everyone does things the same way as we do here, because quite frankly even we do the same tasks differently from one another. Being more educated about things and the people or even their religion can cut that stem away. Knowledge is knowing, knowing is power, and power brings people a sense of security so when people say “knowing is half the battle” they aren’t lying. Just get more educated and simple misunderstandings can completely be avoided and erased from the situation causing unwanted confrontations to not happen, such as offending the person’s beliefs or even himself. Plus knowing more about different cultures can even better the world. Plus bring us closer together as the human race, but that’s a different topic for a different letter.

Some things people might say to deny there being any racial discrimination within the police force ( I don’t know how anyone can argue with facts though if you are asking me) might be that the whole situation wasn’t documented down, or the police was put under a different type of threat not presented by a weapon, or even the situation called for such a decision. This is where my solution comes in, and i think it is a good one too. I propose you have every cop wear a camera on their vest or shoulder ( a body cam) to document the entire situation, from how he approaches the man, to how he interacts with him, until the time he gets into his car and leaves. This will clear up any excuses the officer might say to justify his action, because it will all be documented. If for some reason the camera get knocked off when he approaches the man he still has a dash cam in his car to film from there. At the end of the day the officer can just delete all the unneeded video clips to save storage and he can save the important ones onto the computers at the station or e-mail them to his boss for evidence. Cameras will make things much more simpler and put it all into a nice, smoothe, system to use too.

In conclusion, I think racial discrimination within the police force needs to be stopped. As you can see it causes unneeded deaths and it has a bias as to who gets the punishment or justice they deserve. Giving cops body cams can clear all this un-sureness as to who was right in the situation or if the cop used the correct amount of force. I really hope you will take this idea into consideration Mr.President. Who knows, it might help a lot of people if you do.


Richard Enos Souza

New Technology High School

American Studies

New Tech High's Junior class. This is a team taught US History and Literature class.

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