Police brutality – not just against the deaf – not something new

Dominant white culture individuals who are upper middle class or above tend to forget that police brutality exists or that it has gone back time out of mind.  I am not going to get into ancient Rome or Sumer, but I assure you, the police were as feared then as they are now – even moreso, in fact.

I started doing a google search (the really easy stuff) and wanted to look at police Brutality in the early 1900’s in America.  There is a good deal of documentation.  I’m not going to particularly organize it, merely list it so folks can peruse what’s out there that’s easy to locate.

Police Brutality by Jill Nelson

A section from her book and webpage:

In a booklet entitled Persecution of Negroes by Roughs and Police­men, excerpts of which are included in this book, a fifteen-year-old boy named Harry Reed states in his affidavit, one of many given by African Americans victimized by mobs of White citizens and police officers in New York City,

We five boys were sitting on the seat of an open Eighth Avenue car. When we got at the corner of 37th Street and Eighth Avenue we saw a mob, and the mob called out, “There’s some niggers; lynch them:” and they made a rush for the car, and I jumped out. Then I ran up to the corner of 38th Street, where there were four policemen. Of these four policemen three were standing on the corner and one ran into the street to stop me. When he saw me coming I was running hard, as fast as I could. When I reached this policeman in the street, he hit me over the head with his club. He hit me twice over the head, and I saw the other three policemen coming, and I fell down. I thought if I fell down the others would not attack me, but they did; they hit me over the legs and on my arm, when I raised it up to protect my head, and they hit me in the back. … I wanted to get protection, but instead the cops hit me, as I have told. I did not resist arrest and I did not struggle to get away from the cops. I only wanted to get away from the mob. … I did not even try to run away after I had been hit. I was afraid to run, because I knew if I did they would hit me again.9

Harry Reed’s affidavit is dated August 22, 1900. And little has changed in a century.  (emphasis mine)

Los Angeles Daily Times, 1908

Innocent Men Roughly Used

Lawrence L. Stevens and Hugh R. Stevens of 326 N. Beaudry Ave., both employed in the Water Department of the city, were arrested and brutally handled by a member of the police force.

Wikipedia – cases of police brutality before 1990

Philadelphia University on Police Brutality

A snip from the page:

Police brutality has been around since the 1800s when police departments were first formed.  Though it can be found in many different forms, it still has the same negative outcome.  During Reconstruction, the KKK was a terrorist group that had a strong influence despite the authority of and sometimes in collaboration with the police.  It was much easier for law enforcement to be racist and brutal during that time because there were not many laws against it.  As the years went on, many amendments were passed to ensure our safety and freedoms against police brutality, regardless of our race or gender.  Though we have made great advances in correcting this problem, it will never go away.


I will leave it to others to complete a more thorough search (I’m done in for the day).

This is a systemic problem and it needs systemic action.

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