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1.1. in a rational, unbiased manner in

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1.1.   Motivation

 

 

 

Marginalized  communities  – particularly but  not exclusively, the African-American  community
 – lament the desensitization
 of the public
and judicial systems
regarding  recent police behavior towards  Blacks.  These
communities  utilize the term
 police brutality to express
actions  they believe constitute misconduct involving inappropriate violence by police officers
towards African-American suspects1 .  Recently, dash
 camera
 and body camera
 footage, provide evidence that  the life of an African-American
 suspect  might have been spared had
 the
 primal  reaction of
both  parties been controlled.

 The
 rules  governing
 police officers’ responses
 to threats assumes
 that potential suspects  operate  in a manner  similar
 to Homo economics2   during  an arrest,
and that police officer(s) behave  in a rational, unbiased  manner  in each instance.

 

The contribution of this paper  is to extend  current behavioral economics literature on solutions  to the intractable problem  of police brutality, this
 paper  makes 
the  case for institutional change
 as a means  of disrupting the  processes  by which
 we come to  expect
 and  accept  America’s  racial
 state of
affairs.   More specifically
 I contend that cognitive  behavioral
therapy as  well as
 intergroup
relations courses  must  be integrated into
 police curriculum in order  to  insulate vulnerable people
 of color
from  instances of
police brutality. Throughout this paper,  I apply  a theoretical behavioral  economics approach to the issue in order to characterize the natural response of an individual  when forcefully required  to comply during  an arrest.  I
also discuss the instantaneous response of an officer when judging threat level, given learned
biases.  Formally, this paper  seeks to address the key policy questions:
 In what  way can police officers arrest  or confront Black suspects they deem threatening without
 killing them?  As well as: In what way should
a Black suspect respond in such
 a situation?  Vital  to  an  understanding of current police brutality is recognizing  the  underlying American  culture that makes it permissible.  Toward
 this  end, the  first section  of this  paper  contextualizes
police brutality today
 by unraveling
America’s  past.  I highlight important moments that serve as a basis of explaining
 why police brutality is a seemingly
 insurmountable issue today. The  second
section  seeks to evidence
the  incidence 
of police brutality through examples.

 I insist  that negative  stereotypes and  learned biases are subconsciously activated when police officers
are confronted  with a Black suspect- leading them to act in an irrational
 and overly aggressive manner  and then  provide a brief
overview of literature delving into
the use of education as a cure for stereotypes. Section three  examines  behavioral
concepts  surrounding the actions  of police in emotionally  charged
situations by applying  classic behavioral  economics heuristics  to the issue of police brutality.  Notably, I reference  the  immediate and
 rapid  assumptions that system
 13  makes when assessing a potential threat.

Working  under
 the  assumption that the
 human  life is the most  valuable asset
 to an individual, I
assert  that a
suspect  in such an emotionally charged  setting will act  in a manner similar to Homo Sapiens4 , and that
 the police officer experiences inherent biases, an overactive system 1, and lazy system  25  that cloud his or her judgments upon
 encountering a
Black  suspect. 
 To conclude,  section four reasons
that  in order to dismantle  the incidence of police brutality and spare the lives of Black suspects,

1 S.Danilina n.d

2 Homo  economics or
“Economic man” is the  concept in
many economic
theories portraying humans as
consistently rational and
 narrowly self-interested
agents who  usually pursue their subjectively-defined ends  optimally (Cartwright 2014)

3 The  automatic, intuitive human mind-usually lets  us navigate the
 world  easily  and  successfully (Winerman,
 2012)

4 The  opposite, irrational brother
of Homo  Economicus

5 The  controlled,
deliberative, analytical human mind  (Winerman 2012)

 

 

 

while equally
 protecting police officers,
police must  undergo
 extensive  cognitive  behavioral training (as a means of
reducing learned biases),
and there must be a complete reconstruction of system-wide procedures in policing in order  to deter  police violence.  Ultimately, this  paper  has implications for effective policies that can diffuse
these often fatal interactions, which have garnered
 national  response over the last few years.

 The pathways  through  which police brutality is
brought into being can provide insight into potential  remedies for the use of excessive force toward Blacks.  The next  section aims to historically  contextualize police brutality
in the United  States,  by peering
into some of the important milestones
 in the history
 of African-Americans.

 

 

 

2.    Background

 

 

 

2.1.   Unraveling
America’s Past

 

 

 

Once  past  social,  religious,  economic,
 and  political
 events  are  understood with
 regards
 to  African- Americans,  it will become clear the ubiquitous factors
 contributing to today’s
 police brutality. Penetrating this complex expression  requires
 unraveling  the ugly history  of racism and oppression  in the United
 States, as well as the
 disenfranchisement of Black  men  and  women.  To add  primary context to
the  polarization of ethnic  attitudes in
America  today,
 I refer to the  seminal  article,  The  Id, the  Ego,
and  Equal  Protection: Reckoning  with Unconscious Racism,  where Professor  Charles  Lawrence
H expresses:

 

Americans  share  a common historical  and cultural heritage  in which racism
has played and still plays a dominant role.  Because  of this 
shared  experience,  we also inevitably share  many  ideas,
attitudes, and beliefs that
 attach significance to an individual’s race and induce
negative  feelings and opinions about  nonwhites.  To the extent that
 this cultural
 belief system has influenced all of
us, we are all racists.6

 

The prevailing cultural
 heritage,
 in which racism
is undeniably  rooted,  has allowed police brutality to persist into  current American society.

 Police  brutality today
 can be chronicled  beginning
 centuries
ago with  the rediscovery of the Americas by the English.

 It was the arrival of Englishmen in Virginia with Black indentured servants  that  ultimately led to a White  effort to keep these servants  for longer than  designated-
 culminating into  the  legalization of chattel slavery.   Soon,  the  rationalization
of Black  enslavement was met  with  the vocalization  of Black inferiority.  Leaving Blacks visibly targeted for labor in homes and on farms.

Attempts to understand police brutality today would be remiss without
 first discussing the Transatlantic Slave Trade, as it provided  the  original  impetus for the  syndrome of
White  over-policing
 of Black  bodies. To begin, European arrival  on the  African
 coast  resulted  in the  destruction and  disorganization of
African culture.  An overwhelming  majority of Africans
were forcibly removed 
from their homes, enslaved,  deported
overseas, and auctioned  to eager
customers.  Colonizers employed a pattern of
colonial commerce described as the
 Triangle Trade System
 to facilitate the  advent of slavery.  Without hyperbole, it is estimated that the voyage claimed the lives of roughly  two million slaves.

From time, the Black community
 had become inured to violence and the pervasiveness of black exploita-

tion.  The euphemistically  termed  “seasoning camps”
adjusted  any optimistic  mindsets  by breaking the mind,

 

 

6 Lawrence
1987

 

 

 

body and spirit  of Black slaves.

 “Seasoning”  was thought to be largely profit
motivated creating  a financial
incentive  for European merchants.

Slave buyers  soon developed
 strong preferences  for slave types, to which these  stereotypes permeated the colonies,
soon laying the foundation  for prejudice  attitudes in
the years to come. Black enslavement was not met without resistance.  Prominent slave rebellions were a constant source of anxiety  to White  societies.

Consequently,  the establishment of
legal safeguards otherwise knowns as Slave Codes were enacted to regulate the behavior  of slaves.

Black  liberation did  not  technically occur
 until  the
 Civil  War. 
 But  this  freedom  equally
 led to  the enactment of
Black Codes that highly resembled  the
Slave Codes and restricted the freedom of freed slaves. Amidst  the  rebirth of White  supremacy in
the  South  came the  forced separation of
Blacks  and  Whites  as inspired  by the
 Jim  Crow laws.  It did not  prove  enough  to isolate  Blacks  in public  spaces,  but  they
 were economically  isolated
 as well. During
 the
 time,
 Blacks lived meager
 existences,
 often subjected to
poverty and inescapable
 debt  as a result  of intense
 racial profiling.

Discriminatory
practices continued throughout the  Post  Reconstruction Era.   As African-Americans migrated west,  they  were met
 with
 limited  jobs and  overly
 populated cities.   Fast-forwarding,
the  Great Depression Era worsened
the already  substandard economic situation for
Blacks, where
Blacks disproportion- ately  contributed to
the unemployment rate  at the time.  It was commonplace  for Blacks to receive benefits (if any) 
incommensurate with those afforded
to Whites.  The exclusion of deprived  Blacks from shelters  and financial assistance  was one of many
 symptoms  during  this era.

The  Civil  Rights  Era
 marked  a point in history  where  past  impressions
 of Blacks  vividly  began  to
manifest.  The  Civil
 Rights  Movement headed  by 
Black  activists served  as a cry  for the  elimination of discrimination, eradication of
segregation, and  implementation of
societal  equity.

 The  Era  was defined by open display  of Black  hatred juxtaposed
with  Black  activism, the  two undergoing a tacit battle for Black liberation  (oppression).

 

 

 

2.2.     The Rodney King Incident
 Sets the Pace
 for Black Activism Today

 

 

 

Race and  police brutality continue to be intimately tied  and  as a result,
 the  phenomenon encourages the  formation of movements and  campaigns. Without question, the  most  landmark police brutality  case during  its time  was the 
videotaped beating of Rodney
 King.  The  lengthy  case resulted in
all four officer charged
 with  assault and  the  televised
 and  re-televised footage
 flooding  nearly  all  radio  and  television broadcasts. The Rodney  King
incident catalyzed  the infamous
1992 Los Angeles
Riots,  and soon protesting became an expected result of public brutality towards
 Blacks. 
The Black lives Matter
 Movement is
a notable decentralized
activist group  driving
 awareness  against systemic  racism  towards Blacks through campaigns
and  social media.  Though well-intentioned,
many  fear or even hate
 the
 group
 and
 associate  it with  Black nationalism
 and rioting.

 In response to Black Lives Matter,
 the creation  of the
counter-movement Blue Lives
Matter  attempts to
qualify the cause of the Black Lives Matter
 movement by associating a salient identity  to
a career,  rather than
 a natural characteristic.

From America’s
inception  until  recently,
 there
 has been a notable  substandard treatment of Blacks that has persisted over time.  It  can be further noted
 that generally  speaking,  Black  people  are caricatured as aggressive  and  criminal  be it in response  to forced enslavement or in an attempt to secure their
 sovereign rights. 
 I contend that history’s
 mis-perception
of the  intent of Black
 liberation
has deleterious effects
on

 

 

 

their  current existence,
leading to incidences of police brutality. I explore
the relationship between  race and the  mistreatment of Blacks  in the
 following section
 by establishing the  view that the  two share
 a causal
relationship.