Twenty-twenty was a year of reckoning. Video recordings of excessive force used by law enforcement seemed to be in the news every month. Questions about their interactions with people of color were regularly raised. The public with cell phones and the police with body and patrol-car cameras captured proof of excessive force—including images of people being harassed or hurt by police officers, protestors being treated as rioters by police departments, images of violence against peaceful individuals, and images of aggression against people of color. Calls to defund the police became louder.
Defund the police?
Anyone able to listen to or watch the news or with access to the Internet in 2020 knew about incidents of police officers using force that killed, maimed, or injured, all over the United States. Often in the name of self-defense. Rarely with accountability. Twenty-twenty was a year that introduced and/or amplified the issue of police brutality to the public. Raised awareness led to increased public engagement and to questions about accountability. Two ideas put forth by the engaged public were police reform and defunding the police.
The notion of defunding the police polarized Americans. Some folks who had never experienced police brutality were against it. Other people who feared police brutality every day were marching for police reform, sometimes including defunding the police. Less polarizing, the idea of police reform left space for positively changing and adding to police departments. Still, solutions take a while to implement, after they are agreed upon. Until then, police brutality will continue to be an issue.
Paralyzed by police in Wisconsin
In August of 2020, the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha made the national news. Many people in Wisconsin and around the United States wondered why it was necessary for a police officer to shoot Blake in the back out of self-defense. As a result of the shooting, Blake was paralyzed. The police officer was not charged by the state with a crime. A federal investigation is underway.
A cell-phone video of Jacob Blake’s shooting went viral and contributed to public questions about the use of force by police departments and the prevalence of victims of force being people of color. It gave further proof that some type of police reform was needed and that victims of police brutality rarely see justice.
What can a victim do?
Victims of police violence deserve justice. They deserve to see their attacker made accountable, and they deserve to be compensated for their suffering. Often it is difficult to prove guilt when a victim has been injured, or worse, by police brutality. It is challenging to accuse a police officer of a crime, difficult to prove it, and hard to get the case to court. With the help of a legal expert to act as a guide to court requirements, the law, and your rights, a victim is more likely to get satisfaction and to achieve justice in some form.