Like many states, Massachusetts and its cities and towns, from Boston to Abington, have enabled police officers to use excessive force against the public and against potential suspects, particularly in interactions with people of color and people with mental health issues. According to The Washington Post, Massachusetts had fewer police shootings in the years 2015-2020 than in previous years. However, a disproportionate number of the shooting victims were Black, Hispanic, or had a mental illness.
- Twenty-five percent of the shooting victims were Black. Demographically, Black people comprise nine percent of the state’s population.
- Twenty percent of the shooting victims were Hispanic. Demographically, Hispanic people comprise eleven percent of the state’s population.
- Nearly thirty-one percent of all police-shooting victims have a mental health issue.
The ACLU of Massachusetts’ Data for Justice Project took note of the number of minorities who were victims of police brutality in Massachusetts and created a #PoliceViolenceHappensHere interactive map of the state that shines a spotlight on these victims. The project’s intention is to tell each victim’s experience and emphasize the need for police reform. The interactive map reflects ten years of data gathered from media reports.
Stopping Police Violence
Before the year 2020, it was unclear if and when the general public would take notice of police brutality and its prevalence. Although police-initiated violence happens in every corner of every state in the U.S., many members of the public were oblivious or apathetic. Since minorities are more often the victims of excessive force and police shootings, it was fairly easy for the non-minority public to ignore.
Then some police officers were issued body cameras, and video cameras were installed in some police cars. Camera footage meant incidents of police brutality were no longer hidden and were available for police leadership to see at the end of every police officer’s shift. Still, police leadership sometimes looked the other way or covered up an officer’s guilt.
Before, the public was rarely presented with examples of police violence. Now, most members of the public have cell phones with video recorders, and social media enables anyone to post information and videos online. This means the public is able to capture and distribute evidence of excessive force by police officers, and the public has started to pay attention.
Reform Might Happen
Now that the non-minority public realizes how prevalent police brutality is, public pressure has been put on police forces to take responsibility for “bad cops.” Politicians can put additional pressure on law enforcement to develop different training and conduct policies for police officers—and to fairly try and convict police officers who commit a crime.
Help Is Available Now
If you have been a victim of excessive or unreasonable force at the hands of law enforcement, you can get justice. A legal expert can explain the law that the officer violated during the incident and give you information about your legal options.