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Police Homicides: The Terror of “American Exceptionalism”
Following the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd, an unarmed African-American man, in Minneapolis Police custody, the city streets in the United States have been filled with protesters and riot police. This is neither a new phenomenon nor the first time such social unrest has erupted in response to police violence in the US.
The chapter “Police Homicides: The Terror of ‘American Exceptionalism’” (now available to download free), from the forthcoming Agenda For Social Justice: Solutions For 2020, by sociologists Robert Aponte and Hannah Hurrle of Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), engages the very contemporary topic of police violence in the US which is the excessive use of force by police against the public at large.
The issue of police homicide is the most egregious example of excessive use of force by police, and the targets of such violence are disproportionately members of racial and ethnic minority groups. The chapter clearly defines this important social problem, provides evidence for the nature and extent of the problem, and most importantly lays out practical and feasible solutions which, if followed, would reduce the extent and severity of police violence.
When social problems appear intractable and social order appears to be breaking down, it is even more important to understand that the current response to the death of George Floyd has not emerged from a vacuum, nor will this and other cases of social disorder dissipate without addressing the underlying sociological issues.
Aponte and Hurrle’s piece is an outstanding source of information for anyone wanting to understand something of the context of contemporary events in the US. Even after the smoke literally clears from the streets, the underlying challenges will still exist, and this piece reasonably but powerfully makes a case of action which can address not only the issue of police homicide but indeed the issue of excessive use of force by law enforcement.
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