Event Title

Police Brutality, Riots, and Public Opinion: Then versus Now

Poster Number

105

Faculty Mentor

Maria Aysa-Lastra, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Anthropology

Location

Richardson Ballroom (DIGS)

Start Date

20-4-2018 2:15 PM

End Date

20-4-2018 4:15 PM

Description

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by law enforcement in Los Angeles, California. On April 29, 1992, those four police officers were acquitted of their charges despite being caught on video camera. This sparked an outbreak of riots fighting for the equal treatment of African Americans. Thirty years later, we are witnessing similar events but in higher frequency. The LA riots as well as recent demonstrations and the emergence of social movements claiming equal treatment under the law are framed by tensions in racial relations in the so-called post-racial America. This paper compares data on the state of race relations and its association to public opinions on excessive use of force. This paper centers on the excessive use of force by authority figures in the United States, or what has been popularly coined “police brutality.” The issue of police brutality has received more and more attention with the rise of social media and the emergence of social movements. Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castil, Alton Sterling, Gregory Gunn, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown are names of African Americans who were brutally beaten and killed by law enforcement officers. In response to this misuse of power, social movements have emerged. “Black Lives Matter,” to name one prominent group, has gathered large support from a diverse group of people who advocate for equal rights of blacks in America. Reactions to racial expressions of unfair treatment, coupled with increasing militarization of police as well as the increased surveillance in urban areas, have enhanced frequent use of excessive force, particularly against minorities. Methods: This research comparse data from the ABC News/Washington Post Poll collected in April of 1992 on race relations during the time of the Rodney King riots to more recent data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and readers’ opinions about police brutality events in major newspapers. There are a lot of conflicting views on this topic with heavy media involvement as well as society only getting information from selective sources. However, this paper aims at providing evidence of the deterioration of race relations in America, racialized patterns in the use of excessive force, and its depiction in the media.

Previously Presented/Performed?

Southern Sociological Society (SSS) Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana, April 2018

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Apr 20th, 2:15 PM Apr 20th, 4:15 PM

Police Brutality, Riots, and Public Opinion: Then versus Now

Richardson Ballroom (DIGS)

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King was brutally beaten by law enforcement in Los Angeles, California. On April 29, 1992, those four police officers were acquitted of their charges despite being caught on video camera. This sparked an outbreak of riots fighting for the equal treatment of African Americans. Thirty years later, we are witnessing similar events but in higher frequency. The LA riots as well as recent demonstrations and the emergence of social movements claiming equal treatment under the law are framed by tensions in racial relations in the so-called post-racial America. This paper compares data on the state of race relations and its association to public opinions on excessive use of force. This paper centers on the excessive use of force by authority figures in the United States, or what has been popularly coined “police brutality.” The issue of police brutality has received more and more attention with the rise of social media and the emergence of social movements. Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Philando Castil, Alton Sterling, Gregory Gunn, Freddie Gray and Michael Brown are names of African Americans who were brutally beaten and killed by law enforcement officers. In response to this misuse of power, social movements have emerged. “Black Lives Matter,” to name one prominent group, has gathered large support from a diverse group of people who advocate for equal rights of blacks in America. Reactions to racial expressions of unfair treatment, coupled with increasing militarization of police as well as the increased surveillance in urban areas, have enhanced frequent use of excessive force, particularly against minorities. Methods: This research comparse data from the ABC News/Washington Post Poll collected in April of 1992 on race relations during the time of the Rodney King riots to more recent data from the General Social Survey (GSS) and readers’ opinions about police brutality events in major newspapers. There are a lot of conflicting views on this topic with heavy media involvement as well as society only getting information from selective sources. However, this paper aims at providing evidence of the deterioration of race relations in America, racialized patterns in the use of excessive force, and its depiction in the media.