a protestor fighting against police brutality in the US

In the grand tapestry of American history, threads of triumph, innovation, and progress are interwoven with threads of injustice, struggle, and conflict.

One such thread, which has unfortunately been a consistent part of our narrative since the inception of this nation, is the issue of police brutality. A dark subplot in America’s story, it echoes through the centuries. This subject not only warrants our attention but also demands our introspection, understanding, and proactive commitment to change.

In this article, we’ll explore the past, present, and future of police brutality in the US. We’ll also offer a closer look at the importance of seeking accountability, justice, and legal reform. Let’s begin.

The Past: Unsettling Origins

police officers arriving at a protest in the 1900s

When tracing the origins of police brutality, we must venture back to the birth of policing in the US. This journey takes us back to the 1700s, a time when law enforcement bore a stark resemblance to racial control more than to the maintenance of law and order.

The earliest form of organized law enforcement in the southern states was the slave patrols. These patrols were formed with one primary goal: maintaining the economic order and political rule of white enslavers. They were tasked with catching runaway enslaved people, preventing revolts, and creating an environment of fear to discourage rebellions.

This grim chapter in the history of American law enforcement laid a foundation steeped in racial oppression, a disturbing undercurrent that persists even today. As the nation evolved, so did its methods of law enforcement. By the late 19th century, policing had begun to take on a form more recognizable to modern eyes, but many of its practices remained questionable.

The enforcement of the racially discriminatory “Black Codes” and “Jim Crow” laws during the Reconstruction Era and beyond were stark examples of how policing was often used as a tool of racial control. The mid-20th century paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement, a time of significant societal upheaval. However, this period was marred by numerous instances of police brutality. The brutality reached an appalling zenith during incidents like Bloody Sunday in Selma, Alabama, in 1965.

This historical backdrop isn’t merely a grim reminder of the past; it’s also critical context that shapes our understanding of police brutality in the present. It shows us that these issues aren’t anomalies but rather the product of a system that has its roots entrenched in the soil of oppression and control. Understanding the past is the first step to confronting the challenges of the present and shaping a better future.

The Present: A Persistent Challenge

protesters fighting against police brutality in 2023

Fast forward to the present day, and it’s disheartening to see that police brutality continues to be a significant problem. It’s no longer limited to physical violence. Instead, it has permeated various societal spaces and taken on more insidious forms.

A poignant example can be found in the case of James Kenton, a roofing contractor from Nashville, Tennessee. In July 2022, Kenton was subjected to a severe violation of his civil and constitutional rights. Accused of crimes he didn’t commit, Kenton found himself stripped of his property and professional license. While Kenton was eventually exonerated, the ordeal didn’t end there. His pursuit of justice was met with further violation. The State and Assistant District Attorney Chadwick Johnson slapped five additional charges on him.

The media’s role in perpetuating such injustices also cannot be ignored. Sensationalism often overshadows the truth. When innocent people like Kenton are unfairly portrayed, their plight is exacerbated. This form of psychological brutality may be less tangible, but it’s just as detrimental as physical violence.

In essence, the present-day challenge of police brutality is multifaceted and deeply entrenched within the system. It’s a stubborn remnant of a problematic past that continues to reverberate through societal structures, causing harm and perpetuating injustice. Understanding this is imperative. As we strive to carve a path towards a future free from such abuses of power, knowledge and analysis will help us seek justice.

The Future: A Call for Change

a judgment scale and gavel in a judge's office

Given the grave history and present state of police brutality, the future might seem bleak. However, there’s room for hope. Public awareness and outrage are at an all-time high, resulting in renewed calls for police reform, accountability, and an end to systemic racism.

Modern technology like body cameras and smartphones have brought the reality of police brutality into people’s living rooms. Activism and advocacy are also powerful tools that are shaping the conversation and driving change.

The future of police brutality in the US must be one of transformation. We must strive to create a society where law enforcement serves as a guardian, not a threat. Accountability should be the norm, not an exception. And justice must be truly blind to color, class, or creed. We must remember stories like Kenton’s struggle and use them as catalysts for change. Every injustice brought to light is an opportunity to learn, grow, and reform.

About the Author

The author is an advocate for civil rights and is affiliated with James Kenton, a Nashville-based roofing contractor. Kenton experienced the systemic injustices that can occur within the criminal justice system firsthand. Today, he’s dedicated to shedding light on such cases to encourage necessary change within society.

For detailed insights into the criminal case against Kenton, explore James Kenton vs. The State of Tennessee & Chadwick Jackson. The website offers a closer look at James Kenton’s fraud charges, the acquittal process, and the importance of seeking justice. To support Kenton, sign his petition today.