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United States police brutalities against African-American people

Police brutalities against African-American people continue to test the conscience of the modern world. Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore last month while in custody was the latest in a string of police killings of unarmed black men that have sparked anger and protests across the US over the past years. The Gray case, in many aspects, reminds us of the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles in the early 1990s. 

In March 1991, King was in a car with two other men on a freeway when they were stopped by police. But they then led the police on a high-speed chase that ended with King being viciously beaten by five white police officers. What made the attack a national story was that it was captured on videotape. For the first time, people saw with their own eyes what African Americans had been protesting for decades: excessive force by police. Los Angeles erupted in six days of rioting after four police officers were acquitted of charges of assault and excessive force against King on April 29, 1992.

But in a sharp departure from many prior incidents, Baltimore prosecutors found the officers had broken the law both in arresting Gray and in roughly handling him. But pent-up anger still boiled over in Baltimore, sparking widespread unrest. Burning cars and shops, heavy presence of police and armoured vehicles make parts of the city look like a war zone. Despite calls for calm by President Barack Obama and city mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, protests had spread to some other American cities which have witnessed many rallies and marches. 

Gray’s family has said in a statement that the killing of yet another black teenager in police custody is heart-breaking and painful. American African community leaders are demanding more accountability in the country’s legal system. It could be that some people are taking advantage of the present situation for their own benefits by spreading rumours and fanning the fire of unrest. Still this is the right time for America to do some soul-searching.

Khawaja Umer Farooq

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