After being an eyewitness to the events that took place on campus on Nov. 30 in which three peaceful protesters were arrested and aggressively restrained by the police (Mideast talk leads to scuffle, 12/04/2006), I decided to do some research on the recent string of police brutality across America. It is very important for us to understand that this growing problem must be dealt with in a comprehensive manner. We must make our stance against violence clear, especially violence that the state commits against citizens.

On Sept. 17 in Portland, Ore., a 42-year-old schizophrenic man died as a result of police brutality. The officers chased him after they noticed that he was acting strangely. Upon catching him, one of the officers, who weighed 100 pounds more than him, accidentally fell on top of him, causing massive bodily damage. After the man was pinned, he was hog-tied and beaten by police. The man lost consciousness and was declared dead by at the hospital only two hours after the incident. Hospital reports indicated that he was killed by a “blunt force chest trauma.”

On Sept. 17 in Toledo, Ohio a 24-year-old woman was dragged out of her car by a police officer after she threw a traffic violation out of the window. The officer opened the car, grabbed the woman and began to beat her. He claimed that she was under the influence of alcohol, but sobriety tests conducted after the incident found that statement to be false.

On Nov. 14 at the University of California at Los Angeles, a student was repeatedly shocked with a Taser by campus police after allegedly refusing to provide identification at a university library. The officers approached the student just as he was leaving the library. After grabbing him, the police refused to free him and, as the tension mounted, they resorted to the use of a Taser. After the initial shock, the student was unable to get up. Still, he was continually shocked for not getting up when the officers demanded that he do so. A student’s camera phone provided evidence of the officers’ use of excessive force.

On Nov. 30 at the University of Michigan, three protesters were assaulted by police as they were dragged out of a speech on Iran given by Georgetown University Prof. Raymond Tanter. The protesters were apprehended after disrupting the conference by heckling. Outside the room, two protesters were shoved against the wall by three police officers. One was thrown down onto the floor, which resulted in a cut on his forehead, a bloody nose and, eventually, loss of consciousness. Paramedics had to use ammonia to revive the unconscious protester.

Another protester who voiced her concerns about her colleague was shoved by an officer. After the initial shove, he grabbed her and slammed her into a wall, making a loud thud. Photographs and video footage were taken by the people watching the event.

These events constitute blatant acts of police brutality. They are evidence of flaws in our law enforcement system. More and more officers are resorting to violent methods of harassing citizens. This not only endangers the livelihood of citizens, but it also violates constitutional protections against the abuse of power.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for University students to advocate for change in America’s law enforcement establishment. States should consider better training programs in order to educate officers about their rights – and our rights. It is an unfortunate set of circumstances that requires us to protect ourselves against those who are supposed to protect us.

Taimour Chaudhri is an LSA junior.

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