Advanced Essay #3


My goal in this paper is to try and relate how the police system, and police violence ties into having an authority figure and what that means. It may not be realized until the end, but the majority of what im trying to explain is that authority hinders the ability for some to act out a reform a system, or more specifically how the police system hinders the people. But at the same time I also want to emphasize the fact this is the product of american culture, because of the history of how violence has been used to make a statement. 

The Police System

As a society we often perceive violence as something that we can use to counteract other violence, or as means of making a statement. Violence constantly surrounds us, and as a result many might perceive it as a normal aspect of life that is part of our world, and is therefore “used to it.” Society, however, assumes that violence is somehow this inevitable force that has occurred due to human behaviour. Although people perceive violence differently, and how to approach it, I am going to question whether or not the decisions that are made within the police system can be improved, and if police violence, specifically, is inevitable?

There is a multitude of layers within the police system that explain why the police use violent methods to control or counteract a situation; One of the methods used to counteract violence by the police system is gun use. The police are told that one of the methods to keep a situation under control, is to use a gun, however, in many other countries, guns are not easily allowed to be used by police officers, let alone citizens. In the U.S we have the right to bear arms, but having everyone have access to a gun, in a sense, invites violence.Instead, if gun use is  abolished completely, in the hands of the people and within the police system, much more methods such as using taser could lessen the amount of unjustified shots made at people. Magnus, a police officer from California proposed different methods in which the police system can use. “Magnus has consistently promoted new training programs and the acquisition of non lethal weaponry, including Tasers and pepper spray, designed to minimize the use of deadly force.” There are many methods that can be used in opposition to using a gun, which can decrease the amount of violence that is being used. Often times, people have their own biases against other, so eliminating the ability to do a major violent act, that can be done by the use of gun, perhaps police violence wouldn’t be viewed as inevitable.

Placing guns in the hands of people, however, sort of hints to another large issue. Why is it that we need to place a figure of authority with power for others to listen? Is that not what police are placed to be in our our society? To be an authority to which people should listen to, to establish peace? Having figures of authority in a societal system is not bad, if that figure of authority uses their power for the wellness of the people. By listening to a lecture done Scilla Elworthy, I think that she discusses how fighting someone with authority can be difficult, since that person with authority will most likely use violence to make a statement of fear. She expresses, however, that people do have the ability to fight violence with peace even though it may be difficult. “And I see that we, ordinary people, can do what Aung San Suu Kyi and Ghandi and Mandela did. We can bring to an end the bloodiest century that humanity has ever known. And we can organize to overcome oppression by opening our hearts as well as strengthening this incredible resolve.” What  Scilla says about overcoming oppression is that by doing it as an organized people, and practicing the method of approaching overcomings with peaceful methods, that we would be more used to peaceful methods, rather than resorting to violent methods.

Police violence, and figures authority are however not inevitable aspects of our society. In fact it may just be a product of american culture. Looking through past histories of how certain overcomings were delt with, a majority used violence as a means to make a statement. As we look back to one of the most well known protests in history, the boston tea party. Before resorting to throwing tea of the boat, many protested against the tax on tea by not buying in it, but as that continuously did not work, people resorted to more violent methods.

In conclusion violence is not at all inevitable, in fact there are many ways in which we can avoid it by replacing the methods that we use to counteract it. By having  figure of authority in society, those figures can be used a means to instill a sort of fear amongst the people. Authority makes people afraid to act out, but at the same time invites violence. So it just does end up being a continuous cycle when violent methods are being used. I don’t think that dismantling a whole police system is necessary, but rather a reformation f it. The system is already so set in place, that perhaps the best way to actually fix it is to implement more peaceful methods of dealing with it.