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Police Brutality Against Ethnic Minorities


Police brutality is a grave injustice against the values this nation holds dear. While incidences of police brutality are widespread across all ethnicities, minorities are disproportionately affected by this form of excessive force (Smith, Brad & Malcolm, p.1034). It is essential to understand why police brutality happens and how it affects members of certain minority groups to adequately address the issue and ensure that justice is accessible to everyone. This article explores the argument that ethnic minorities are the primary targets for police brutality in the United States and how racism plays an integral role in such violence.


Some of the reasons why people believe that ethnic minorities are the primary targets for police brutality in the United States are as follows: First, Research shows that police officers disproportionately use force against minorities, often using excessive force. For example, a study by the ACLU found that blacks and Latinos are detained and arrested at much higher rates than whites, even when the crimes committed are similar (Fyfe, 165). According to this research, officers are more likely to use force when they perceive a threat from a minority person. This is likely because officers are more likely to view minorities as potential criminals and may be more likely to use force when they feel threatened (Fyfe, 166). This perception of threat can be based on stereotypes or factual information about a minority person’s behavior.

Furthermore, there is a history of police brutality against ethnic minorities. For example, during the 1960s and 1970s, police officers were known to beat and kill minority activists. This continued into the 1980s and 1990s, with minority groups such as African Americans and Latinos experiencing high levels of police brutality.

Additionally, ethnic minorities are more likely to be unarmed and, thus, more vulnerable to police brutality. For example, in 2014, African Americans were arrested at a rate of 2.5 times that of whites, despite making up only 12% of the population. This disparity is likely because police are more likely to encounter African Americans in high-crime areas (Tonry, Michael & Matthew, 10).

Moreover, the police are often poorly trained in dealing with ethnic minorities and may not understand their cultural norms. For example, in Ferguson, Missouri, officers were known to use excessive force against African Americans. This effect was because many police officers who responded to the riots were white and unfamiliar with the African American community (Rosenfeld, 1077).

Besides, ethnic minorities often live in areas with high crime rates, making them law enforcement targets. This also may be because law enforcement officers are often drawn to areas with high crime rates, as they believe that they will encounter more criminals in these areas (Fellner, 257). This can lead to incidents of police brutality against ethnic minorities.

Additionally, ethnic minorities are more likely to be from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which means they may be more likely to resist police commands. This can lead to conflict and even violence, as officers may be less likely to respond positively to these situations (Weitzer, 819). For these reasons, ethnic minorities constitute a significant target for police brutality.

Lastly, it is crucial to consider institutionalized racism in U.S. society. This racism can lead officers to see ethnic minorities as criminals and threats, leading to more aggressive policing tactics. As a result of these factors, ethnic minorities are the primary targets for police brutality in the United States. According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, ethnic minorities are more likely to experience police brutality than whites. As the author argues, this is mainly because ethnic minorities are more likely to be from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, which increases the likelihood of conflict and violence (Greenfeld, p.10).


However, not all police encounters with members of ethnic minorities result in brutality. In many cases, police officers can successfully de-escalate situations without violence (Rabe-Hemp, Cara E & Amie, 411). Furthermore, research has shown that members of ethnic minorities are more likely than white people to be arrested and incarcerated (Todak et al., p.20). Thus, although police brutality against ethnic minorities is rampant, it is not the only form of discrimination that members of this group face.

Besides, police brutality can result from factors like racial profiling and excessive force. However, these issues are not limited to minority groups. They are also common among law enforcement agencies across the country (Bleakley, p.50). Consequently, although ethnic minorities are indeed the main targets of police brutality, this does not make the problem unique to them. It is a nationwide problem that needs to be addressed by all community members.


Generally, as the essay discusses, it is clear that police brutality disproportionately impacts ethnic minorities in the United States. Systemic racism and a lack of accountability from law enforcement are critical contributors to this issue. Although these groups face other types of discrimination as well, as the essay demonstrates, police brutality is much more pronounced. This requires urgent action from all levels of government to ensure justice for victims and their families and guarantee safety for members of minority communities. Only then can we build trust between marginalized groups and the police, ensuring everyone receives equal protection under the law regardless of race or ethnicity.

Works Cited

Bleakley, Paul. “A thin-slice of institutionalized police brutality: A tradition of excessive force in the Chicago Police Department.” Criminal Law Forum. Vol. 30. No. 4. Springer Netherlands, 2019.

Fellner, Jamie. “Race, drugs, and law enforcement in the United States.” Stan. L. & Pol’y Rev. 20 (2009): 257.

Fyfe, James J. “Police use of deadly force: Research and reform.” Justice Quarterly 5.2 (1988): 165–205.

Greenfeld, Lawrence A. Violence by intimates: Analysis of data on crimes by current or former spouses, boyfriends, and girlfriends. Vol. 81. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1998.

Rabe-Hemp, Cara E., and Amie M. Schuck. “Violence against police officers: Are female officers at greater risk?.” Police Quarterly 10.4 (2007): 411-428.

Rosenfeld, Richard. “Ferguson and police use of deadly force.” Mo. L. Rev. 80 (2015): 1077.

Smith, Brad W., and Malcolm D. Holmes. “Community accountability, minority threat, and police brutality: An examination of civil rights criminal complaints.” Criminology 41.4 (2003): 1035–1064.

Todak, Natalie, and Michael D. White. “Expert officer perceptions of de-escalation in policing.” Policing: An International Journal (2019).

Tonry, Michael, and Matthew Melewski. “The malign effects of drug and crime control policies on black Americans.” Crime and justice 37.1 (2008): 1–44.

Weitzer, Ronald. “Citizens’ perceptions of police misconduct: Race and neighborhood context.” Justice Quarterly 16.4 (1999): 819–846.


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