Police Brutality in the Bay Area

Do we ever think about police brutality as one of the biggest problems in the United States? Doesn’t it look to you like it just gets bigger and bigger every time? It does to me. How many other murders do we need to have for police officers to knock some sense into us? Police brutality has been going on over the years, but this time, it is getting out of control. We have had plenty of excuses, but are they really reasonable? Think about all the murders. Who is being killed? People of color.

Sometimes, we have to stop and think, Does police brutality have anything to do with racism? It looks like it does. According to a 2012 article by Shoshana Walter on californiawatch.org, “The gap between the arrest rates for whites and African Americans in San Francisco is well above state and national averages, a Bay Citizen analysis has found. In California, African Americans are four times more likely to be arrested than whites, and nationwide, about 2.4 times more likely to face arrest.” This shows that police in San Francisco are racist because they’re arresting people of color, but not putting as many charges on white people. If black people and white people commit the same crimes, the white person will basically just get a warning and a black person will have time in jail. This quote shows that California is more racist than the rest of the country. Even though we have a black president, we still have more black people getting arrested than white.

One example of police brutality in San Francisco is Alex Nieto’s story. On Friday evening, March 21, 2014, Alex Nieto, a young twenty-eight-year-old Latino man, was murdered by four police officers from San Francisco Police Department. Someone who didn’t know Alex called the police and told them they didn’t like his presence in the park at Bernal Hill. Alex was dressed in his security guard uniform and a new 49ers jacket, and he was enjoying his dinner. The police confronted and shot him, and “he was killed when he was struck by 14 to 15 bullets of the total 59 shots,” according to justice4alexnieto.org. He was a good guy. According to the website, he was a “full-time scholarship student at CCSF, earning a criminal justice degree and applying for transfer to a 4-year college program.” He was working toward justice, but it went the other way around: injustice happened
to him.

Police brutality is a problem all over the Bay Area. In 2009, at Fruitvale Station in Oakland, a white BART police officer brutally murdered a twenty-two-year-old black man. According to witness testimonies, Oscar was on his way home with his girlfriend when the officers asked him to get off BART. They asked him to get on the floor with his hands on his head, and Oscar did as told. When Oscar tried to answer a phone call, a white police officer held him down, took out his revolver, and shot him. Even though Oscar wasn’t putting any force against the officer, Oscar got shot in the back. They took him to the hospital, but he was pronounced dead the next morning. The officer’s excuse was that he confused his gun with his taser.

This example shows how police officers brutally murder people of color in the Bay. When I was doing this research, it was really easy to find articles about black and Latino people killed by police officers, but I couldn’t find any about white people being killed by police officers. This shows us how police officers are racist and target people of color. The police chiefs everywhere, but especially in the Bay, need to enforce stronger rules and consequences for police officers that target people of color.

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