Social Justice, Police Shootings, and Abusive Social Encounters with Unarmed African Americans

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:35
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Henry ALLEN, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Wheaton College (IL), USA
For many waves of immigrants and tangential admirers, the United States social system stands as a symbol of freedom, justice, and equality.  Not so historically for the bulk of disadvantaged indigenous African Americans who continue to suffer unpredictably from the nation's simultaneous legacy of slavery, racism, and structural oppression (see Patrick Sharkey's book, Stuck in Place, 2015).  Recent examples of how prejudice and discrimination stimulate social injustice can be observed from police shootings or abuse of unarmed African Americans.  Moreover, many incidents of police abuse fail to receive any sanctions or criminal penalities despite internal, domestic political rhetoric by policymakers about global human rights abuses elsewhere.  In no way has the Civil Rights Movement or the Kerner Commission report about police misconduct curtailed the most lethal woes of impoverished African Americans in Ferguson (Missouri), New York City, Chicago, and other cities in the United States.

A variety of scholars and sociologists have examined police deviance and misconduct for decades, even if their findings have been ignored by key policymakers.  Using qualitative and quantitative data, this paper analyzes the social factors involved in the use of deadly force by police against unarmed African Americans during the past decade.  Role behaviors, cultural competencies, police corruption, tactical training, and related policy matters will be addressed.  Lastly, the research will describe tangible, yet undisclosed, efforts undertaken by the FBI Academy's Behavioral Science Unit and its Project BeSTOW (2003-2011) to prevent recent waves of police abuse in society.  Where feasible, comparative data from other societies and ethnic groups will be included in the analysis.