Police brutality

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An act of police brutality in progress.
Ya hotshot, wanna get props and be a savior? First show a little respect, change your behavior! Change your attitude, change your plan. There could never really be justice on stolen land! Are you really for peace and equality? Or when my car is hooked, you know you wanna follow me! Your laws are minimal, cause you won't even think about lookin' at the real criminal! This has got to cease, cause we be getting hyped to the sound of da police!
~ Lyrics from RKS-One, Sound of da Police

Police brutality is a term used to describe law enforcement officers, usually police, brutalising suspects and civilians. It usually takes the form of officers using excessive force while arresting suspects, such as beating them or using unlawful methods of restraint, but can escalate to torture or murder on occasion.

Prosecution for police brutality is rare, as police departments and police unions have been known to protect officers who abuse their powers. Even if an officer is disciplined it is more likely that they will be sacked than prosecuted (although some prosecutions have occurred, most famously in the cases of Stacey Koon and Derek Chauvin).

In several Western countries, such as the United Kingdom and the United States, there is a clear link between police brutality and race. Black and minority people are more likely to be victims of police brutality than white people. However, unsurprisingly this is less of a racial issue in most white minority countries.

Notable villains who have committed this act

Examples of police brutality in countries:

United States

There have been many cases of police brutality in US history, most against African American, Asian American and Native American citizens, immigrants, or protesters at protests. During the mid-50s and early 70s, there was an FBI program called COINTELPRO, which served for the repression and espionage of African-American, communist, feminist organizations or simply dissidents to the government. Even today there are many cases of Native American, and African American civilians (and occasionally whites, Hispanics or immigrants) killed or severely tortured by American police officers, such as Rodney King, Tamir Rice, Rayshard Brooks, Loreal Tsingine, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, George Floyd, Angelo Quinto and Joseph Finley Jr., etc.

Chile

In Chile, the "Carabineros de Chile" (the name given to the police in Chile), have been involved in many cases of police brutality. During the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship, Carabineros de Chile was involved in many events of violation of human rights. Already in current times, Carabineros de Chile has been accused of committing multiple abuses of power against the indigenous people of the Mapuches in the region of La Araucanía, and they were also accused of human rights violations during the protests in Chile between 2019 and 2020.

Nigeria

In Nigeria, most incidents of police brutality are perpetrated by the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS. Nigerians have shared both stories and video evidence of how members of SARS engaged in kidnapping, murder, theft, rape, torture, unlawful arrests, humiliation, unlawful detention, extrajudicial killings, and extortion in Nigeria. SARS officers have been alleged to profile youths based on fashion choices, mount illegal road blocks and searches, conduct unwarranted temperature checks, arrest without warrant, rape women, and extort young Nigerians for driving exotic vehicles and using iPhones. The unit was disbanded in October 2020 following mass demonstrations.

Poland

In the Polish People's Republic during the Cold War, police brutality was widespread and was mostly perpetrated by the ZOMO, which were paramilitary riot police. They gained the most of their infamy during the period of martial law in Poland. During this time period their brutal actions against peaceful protesters often affiliated with the oppositionist Solidarity movement, and the subsequent lack of prosecution of those responsible for deaths of protesters, were major factors in bringing down the communist regime. Since 1990 several trials against former ZOMO members and their political leaders took place, most prominently in the case of the massacre in the Wujek Coal Mine (where nine people were killed and 21 wounded when Katowice's Special Platoon opened fire on the striking miners in 1981 in the bloodiest incident of the martial law era).

Nazi Germany

Police brutality became common in Germany following Adolf Hitler's rise to power, particularly when the Holocaust got underway. SS-Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler established the Ordnungspolizei as the official police force of Nazi Germany, giving them nearly unlimited power to persecute ideological opponents and "undesirables" of the Nazi regime such as Jews, freemasons, the churches, homosexuals, Jehovah's Witnesses, and other groups defined as "asocial". The Nazi conception of criminality was racial and biological, holding that criminal traits were hereditary, and had to be exterminated to purify German blood. As a result, even ordinary criminals were consigned to concentration camps to remove them from the German racial community (Volksgemeinschaft) and ultimately exterminate them.

United Kingdom

Police in the United Kingdom have been accused of using excessive force against black suspects and others. Incidents include the death of David Oluwale, a homeless black man who drowned in the River Aire while being chased by police in circumstances that have never fully been established, leading to the prosecution of Geoffrey Ellerker and Kenneth Kitching, both of whom were acquitted of manslaughter but convicted of having beaten Oluwale on several previous occasions. The Battle of Orgreave, the most violent industrial clash in British history, saw strikers badly beaten by police before being prosecuted for riot based on testimony from police officers; the trial eventually collapsed after multiple police officers were found to have lied during the trial. During The Troubles British police were accused of murdering Irish Republican suspects such as terrorist Diarmuid O'Neill, who was allegedly shot while trying to surrender. Black suspects such as Christopher Alder, Sean Rigg, Roger Sylvester, Kingsley Burrell, Sheku Bayoh, Sarah Reed, Simeon Francis and Dalian Atkinson have died either in police custody or as a result of force used during arrest. The Metropolitan Police have even been officially censured in 2022 for using excessive force after police officers shut down a 2021 vigil commemorating the murder of Sarah Everard in breach of lockdown restrictions.

South Africa

South African police regularly used police brutality during Apartheid. Examples include the Sharpeville Massacre, when 69 anti-Apartheid protestors were shot by police, and the killings of a number of protestors during protests in Soweto. Post-Apartheid incidents include the 2013 murder of Mido Macia, when eight police officers later convicted of murder handcuffed a suspect behind their van and dragged him for about 800 metres, and the Marikana Massacre, when striking miners were fired on with rubber bullets, water cannon, stun grenades and tear gas and 34 were shot to death by the South African Police Service.