How to Help Stop Police Brutality
Police brutality is one of the most controversial issues of the modern day, having become an almost ever-present talking point in recent years. Many people oppose taking action to stop unwarranted officer violence, and even more deny that there’s a problem at all. Thankfully, even in the face of such adversity, there are many things you can do to help end police brutality.
To help stop police brutality, educate others by sharing timely stories on social media and talking about the issues with your friends, family, and co-workers. After recent incidents of violence, put flyers and other informational materials up at colleges, community centers, and businesses friendly to the cause. For safety and potential evidence, make sure you record police encounters whenever you see them. Donate to activist organizations when you can, or join them to become even more involved.For tips on taking political action to stop police brutality, read on!
Talk with friends and family about police violence.When you see a natural opportunity to talk about police brutality with a friend or family member, such as after watching a related news story together, inform them of your position in as kind a way as you can. If they push back, try not to get upset and listen to what they say with an open mind. If you still disagree, tell them why without resorting to angry rants or sarcasm.
- For particularly adversarial friends, ask why they think what they do or how they came to their conclusions. If their reasons are poor, your questions will illuminate that.
Educate others politely if the opportunity arises.Before sharing your views with a co-worker or acquaintance, make sure they’re comfortable talking about touchy subjects. Since you won’t have the same level of trust with them as you do with close friends, focus on asking questions and looking for areas you agree.
- Don’t expect to change their mind in this conversation. Instead, just make sure they understand your perspective, that way they can think about it on their own.
Run a local awareness campaign with flyers, posters, and other materials.After a recent incident of police brutality, create posters, flyers, and similar materials explaining what transpired and demanding the police department be held accountable. To get the word out quickly, pass the materials out in public places or, after getting permission, put them up in colleges, community centers, and businesses friendly to the cause.
- Avoid using images of the actual event since it’s often seen as cruel or distasteful. Instead, go with pictures showing the victim in a positive light, like a graduation photo.
- Simple messages like “Resist Police Brutality” or “We Demand Justice” will help make your message clear and readable.
Helping Your Community
Record police encounters.In the United States, you have a legal right to record anything happening in a public space, including police encounters and arrests. So, whenever you see a police encounter in a public space, take out a camera and record it. In many cases, civilian videos are the only form of evidence indicating officer abuse and play a crucial role in a victim’s legal defense.
- Unless they have a warrant, police officers are not legally allowed to view or take your camera. However, if they try, do not touch the officer and respectfully deny consent. If they take it anyway, contact your local ACLU affiliate for legal advice.
- If you’re recording on a smartphone, try using the live-streaming function on sites like Facebook. This ensures that, even if the officer takes your phone, the evidence is online.
- Your right to record does not extend to private property, nor does it give you permission to break the law or interfere with the officer’s actions.
Donate to an activist group.Look for a local or national organization focused on fighting police brutality or defending victims in court. Visit their website and, if the option is available, donate what you can to support the cause. Even if you can only afford to give a few dollars, that’s a few dollars more the organization can use in their fight. You can even write some donations off your taxes, meaning they won’t be used to fund the police force.
- Some popular organizations include the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Police Accountability Project, and Black Lives Matter. For more options, visit .
- If they’ve created an official fundraising campaign, consider donating to a victim of police brutality as well.
Become a member of an activist group.If you want to become a major part of social change, try volunteering at an activist organization. Look for local groups in need of on-the-ground or frontline volunteers, since they will typically give you more to do than national organizations. If you become incredibly invested in your volunteer work, see if the organization offers part or full-time jobs.
- For a comprehensive list of organizations focused on social justice and police reform, visit .
Join the police force to help fix the problem from the inside.In many cases, the best way to fix an organization is by becoming a part of it. If you are serious about stopping police brutality, try joining the force and serving as an example of what a good officer should be. Spread your message to fellow officers and, if you eventually gain a leadership position, enact changes to decrease violence and better serve your community.
- In areas where police brutality disproportionately affects minority groups, recruiting more minority officers can help tamp down some of the violence.
Taking Political Action
Take part in protests and sign petitions.Protests, petitions, and other forms of political speech can be incredibly effective when dealing with issues as controversial and well-publicized as police brutality. When you hear about an event, make sure you participate and spread the word to your friends and family members.
- For information on upcoming political events, contact local social justice groups or visit their social media accounts.
- If you plan to take part in a public protest, prepare yourself in case a riot breaks out.
Call your elected officials.Even if your representatives are explicitly against police reform, call them and let them know your thoughts. Elected officials care about what their constituents think, and if they receive enough calls in favor of police reform, they may start to change their mind. To find an official’s office number, check their personal website or your government’s online database of elected officials.
- Calls are significantly more effective than letters because they attach a voice and personality to the opinion.
Elect public officials who support police reform.In some cases, the only way to achieve true political change is by electing new people. Vote for local, state, district, and national representatives who support things like:
- Decriminalizing minor offenses like marijuana possession.
- Creating police commissions and civilian complaint offices.
- Legally limiting how much force officers can use.
- Using body cameras during all police interactions.
- Ending profit-based policing.
- Demilitarizing the police force.
Run for a local public office to try and fix the problem yourself.If things aren’t getting better in your area, try running to be a local representative, senator, city council member, or other political servant. The smaller the position and elected area, the greater chance you’ll have of winning. Elected politicians, even those that don’t directly oversee police matters, may be able to influence local police chapters indirectly.
- Police brutality is an incredibly controversial subject, and even small statements of protest can lead to violent reactions. Always put your safety before protest, and remember that staying silent once may give you the chance to speak 100 more times in the future.
Video: How To Stop Police Brutality In America
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