In the wake of Ferguson, Black Friday takes on a whole new meaning.
I recall with stunning clarity that day in 1992 when the Rodney King beating verdict came down. An all-white jury in Simi Valley pronounced that a gang of police officers was not guilty for beating an unarmed black man nearly to death, despite the fact that a bystander caught the whole ugly incident on video.
There's a powerful new mural in New York City: at 22 East 2nd Street in Lower Manhattan, seven mothers are painted in front of bold, colorful stripes. These are all mothers whose sons have been killed by violence from the state.
It makes sense for public health departments to invest in distributing free condoms. But why would a city spend a million dollars a giving out free condoms—then allow police to use those very same condoms as evidence of prostitution? This may sound ridiculous, but this has been the reality in New York City.
A medic—who was sent away—checks out James Chasse's injuries as police sip coffee.
Cases of police brutality are reported time and time again across the country. And yet, despite the passing of years and supposed reforms, we are always taken aback when new cases arise.
Seven years after one particularly awful case in Portland, Oregon, the new independent documentary Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse captures the horror once more. The film is a chilling, intimate look at one case of police brutality and the flawed justice system that allows officers to act with impunity.
On TV, successful female cops populate some of our favorite shows. From Law and Order: Special Victims Unit's Olivia Benson(Mariska Hargitay) to The Wire's Kima Greggs (Sonja Sohn) toThe Closer's Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick) to Castle's Kate Beckett (Stana Katic), we see women in law enforcement apprehending sex offenders, performing stellar detective work, nailing interrogations, and closing cases. But in real life, women make up a surprisingly small percentage of police forces.
In 2007, women accounted for about 15% of the total sworn law enforcement officers in large local police departments. In large sheriffs' offices, female officers comprised about 13% of the total sworn officers. In contrast, local police departments with between 1 and 10 full-time sworn officers employed fewer than 2,000 female law enforcement officers nationwide (6%). Small sheriffs' offices across the county employed just over 200 total sworn officers who were women (4%) in 2007.
Are there any explicitly feminist crime TV shows? Prime Suspect, which ran on UK television channel ITV from 1991 to 2006, is surely a contender, starring Helen Mirren as Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, a female detective breaking into a male-dominated world. It dealt explicitly with issues such as institutional sexism and racism in London's Metropolitan Police force.
It's being remade for US television, with Maria Bello taking on the role of Tennison.