[QODLink]
Inside Story

American policing and race relations

The shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white policeman has led to days of protests and violence.

Last updated: 18 Aug 2014 20:42
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback

The shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by a white policeman has led to days of protests and violence in Ferguson, Missouri. The images coming out of the small American community are evocative of the civil rights era.

Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 may not seem so different from Birmingham, Alabama, in 1963. Around two-thirds of the town's residents are black - but there are just three blacks among the town's 53 police officers.

Despite all the similarities, it is also very different. Since the 1990s, the federal government has increasingly militarised its police forces - a process that accelerated after the 9/11 attacks.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, government departments have distributed $4.3bn worth of equipment to police.

Today's officers have access to M-16 rifles, grenade launchers and armoured personnel carriers. In Ferguson we are seeing what happens when the very people tasked with protecting the public look like an invading army.

The resemblance to American soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan has become a recurring theme on social media. So, do images of a paramilitary police force, already struggling with questions of race, undermine its legitimacy still further and what does it mean for civil rights?

Presenter: Shiulie Ghosh

Guests:

Brittany Packnett, the executive director of Teach for America St Louis. She organised a rally in support of young people in Ferguson

Rosa Clemente, the Green Party's vice-presidential candidate in 2008 and an academic specialising in the civil rights movement.

Hubert Williams, the former president of the Police Foundation and former deputy special advisor to the police commission that investigated the police beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles.

274

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lacking cohesive local ground forces to attack in tandem, coalition air strikes will have limited effect, experts say.
Hindu right-wing groups run campaign against what they say is Muslim conspiracy to convert Hindu girls into Islam.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
Muslim caretakers maintain three synagogues in eastern Indian city, which was once home to a thriving Jewish community.
Amid fresh ISIL gains, officials in Anbar province have urged the Iraqi government to request foreign ground troops.
join our mailing list