There has been ongoing coverage of police brutality in the media lately regarding three different events, with one ending in a tragic death.
The most abhorrent of the recent spotlighted events is the death of a 45-year-old mother of three who died in police custody last week at a Phoenix airport. Carol Ann Gotbaum, who comes from a prominent family, was arrested for disorderly conduct. "She became extremely irate, apparently running up and down the gate area," an airline spokesman told reporters. The woman’s husband called police to tell them she was a recovering alcoholic and extremely depressed, and to act calmly with her.
So what did police do? They threw her down to the floor and arrested her. An airport video camera captured the episode. The woman apparently died of "mysterious reasons" not long after her arrest, and according to police reports they "found her (dead) with the handcuffs up by her neck area."
In another recent case of police brutality, a 15-year-old female was arrested for violating curfew in a Florida city. The officer is seen in a video punching the girl in the face and pepper spraying her while attempting to handcuff her. Even if the girl was resisting arrest, she weighs less than 100 pounds; the male officer not only is armed with weapons, but is also twice her size.
And everyone by now has heard the phrase, "Don’t tase me, bro!" Another prime example of police brutality indeed: A college student asked John Kerry about allegations levied by journalist Greg Palast about the 2004 presidential election. Shortly after inquiring, the Florida college student was arrested by police for "disorderly conduct." The student was then tasered by police after being handcuffed.
What all three of these occurrences have in common is the nature in which police dealt with the situation. Police officers occasionally have a belief that they are allowed to deal with human life as they please. Does the egotistical feeling of superiority come in a package with their badge and death tools?
At least some organizations have worked to acknowledge use of excess force. The LAPD revealed a report Tuesday faulting its officers for the way they handled protestors during an immigrant-rights rally in May. The officers apparently used rubber bullets and batons on a crowd of non-violent protestors, injuring 246 individuals, according to a New York Times article.
Usually when police brutality is mentioned, some people believe the act is linked to racial stereotyping, but judging on the latest events the media has covered, it is evident that ethnicity is not always the issue.
Instead of candidates taking flag pins off of their clothing for media attention, the least our presidential candidates can do is bring awareness to the subject, whether it happened to a rich woman, poor man or a child – this nationwide epidemic has to stop.