The inhumane shootings, beatings and treatment by police officers are reminiscent of the history surrounding this nation’s Culture of Violence and Trauma impacting Black Americans.


“I can’t bring myself to watch yet another video, not because I don’t care, but because we’re all just a few videos away from becoming completely desensitized. The public execution of Black folks will never be normal.”  

― Andrena Sawyer 

What If? Collection (Freddie Gray) by Carlos Walker. Photo Courtesy: C. Walker

America seems to be caught in a perpetual loop when it comes to the challenges of “Black Americans” surviving the game of life. History is continually repeating itself time and again. Arthur McDuffie, Rodney King,George Floyd, Tyre Nichols and Breonna Taylor are forever connected as a result of intentional police misconduct.

Knowing that Tyre’s assailants were black only added salt to the gaping wound in the hearts of black Americans and brings shame to their parents and communities as solutions being sought to end the violence blacks inflict upon themselves and that which is inflicted on them by others. All of these incidents serve as daily reminders that a national resolution is needed sooner rather than later.

The fact that the Department of Justice recently announced misconduct and civil rights violations only confirmed the sentiments of people of color in Louisville, Kentucky and nationwide. The DOJ found the Louisville Metro Police Department and the Louisville / Jefferson Metro Government guilty of the following:

  • Uses excessive force, including unjustified neck restraints and the unreasonable use of police dogs and tasers;
  • Conducts searches based on invalid warrants;
  • Unlawfully executes search warrants without knocking and announcing;
  • Unlawfully stops, searches, detains, and arrests people during street enforcement activities, including traffic and pedestrian stops;
  • Unlawfully discriminates against Black people in its enforcement activities;
  • Violates the rights of people engaged in protected free speech critical of policing; and
  • Along with Louisville Metro, discriminates against people with behavioral health disabilities when responding to them in crisis.

The Department also identified deficiencies in LMPD’s response to and investigation of domestic violence and sexual assault, including its responses to allegations that LMPD officers engaged in sexual misconduct or domestic violence. Deficiencies in policies, training, supervision, and accountability contribute to LMPD and Louisville Metro’s unlawful conduct.

Attorney General Merrick B. Garland stated “there is reasonable cause to believe that Louisville Metro and LMPD engage in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the constitutional rights of the residents of Louisville — including by using excessive force, unlawfully discriminating against Black people, conducting searches based on invalid warrants, and violating the rights of those engaged in protected speech critical of policing.”

Many residents in Louisville, Kentucky are cautiously optimistic that the DOJ findings will bring about the change they have desired for years.

Add to this DOJ revelation a 2021 Report from the Lancet comparing research data from the US National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) to three non-governmental, open-source databases on fatal police violence found that NVSS under-reported deaths from police violence by 55.5% between 1980-2018.Over the 40-year study period (1980-2019), Black Americans were estimated to be 3.5 times more likely to die from police violence than white Americans.

In addition, this violence creates other stressors for black communities to contend with. The Massachusetts Employment Lawyers Association, Inc., stated that “those exposed to Intrusive stop-and-frisk policies, threats of violence, or even harsh racial insults appear to result in a higher prevalence of PTSD, according to a study published on PubMed. The psychological scars resulting from police use of force can be devastating and even if it doesn’t result in PTSD, it inevitably causes jumpiness, anxiety, and paranoia.  Black adolescent males may have a fear of the police and a serious concern for their personal safety and mortality. Since childhood, they are exposed to stories of police violence and photos in the media.” 

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021 addresses a wide range of policies and issues regarding policing practices and law enforcement accountability. It increases accountability for law enforcement misconduct, restricts the use of certain policing practices, enhances transparency and data collection, and establishes best practices. Yet the bill failed to advance as a result of Republican opposition which proposed a more narrower alternative.

However, the truth is that delays on real solutions fueled by perceived political or discriminatory intent continues to be an emotional and cultural burden that Black Americans must continue to bear. All the consequence of lessons never learned.

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