The author of the acclaimed Chokehold: Policing Black Men writes on how the system treats African Americans with contempt: If police patrolled white areas as they do poor black neighborhoods, there would be a revolution
Chokehold: a maneuver in which a persons neck is tightly gripped in a way that restrains breathing. A person left in a chokehold for more than a few seconds can die.
The former police chief of Los Angeles Daryl Gates once suggested that there is something about the anatomy of African Americans that makes them especially susceptible to serious injury from chokeholds, because their arteries do not open as fast as arteries do on normal people.
The truth is any human being will suffer distress when pressure on the carotid arteries interrupts the supply of blood from the heart to the brain. Many police departments in the United States have banned chokeholds, but this does not stop some officers from using them when they perceive a threat.
The United States supreme court decided a case about chokeholds that tells you everything you need to know about how criminal justice works for African American men.
In 1976, Adolph Lyons, a 24-year-old black man, was pulled over by four Los Angeles police officers for driving with a broken taillight. The cops exited their squad cars with their guns drawn, ordering Lyons to spread his legs and put his hands on top of his head.
After Lyons was frisked, he put his hands down, causing one cop to grab Lyonss hands and slam them against his head. Lyons had been holding his keys and he complained that he was in pain. The police officer tackled Lyons and placed him in a chokehold until he blacked out. When Lyons regained consciousness, he was lying facedown on the ground, had soiled his pants, and was spitting up blood and dirt. The cops gave him a traffic citation and sent him on his way.
Lyons sued to make the LAPD stop putting people in chokeholds. He presented evidence that in recent years 16 people including 12 black men had died in LAPD custody after being placed in chokeholds. In City of Los Angeles v Lyons, the US supreme court denied his claim, holding that because Lyons could not prove that he would be subject to a chokehold in the future, he had no personal stake in the outcome. Dissenting from the courts opinion, Thurgood Marshall, the first African American on the supreme court, wrote:
It is undisputed that chokeholds pose a high and unpredictable risk of serious injury or death. Chokeholds are intended to bring a subject under control by causing pain and rendering him unconscious. Depending on the position of the officers arm and the force applied, the victims voluntary or involuntary reaction, and his state of health, an officer may inadvertently crush the victims larynx, trachea, or hyoid. The result may be death caused by either cardiac arrest or asphyxiation. An LAPD officer described the reaction of a person to being choked as do[ing] the chicken, in reference apparently to the reactions of a chicken when its neck is wrung.
The work of police is to preserve law and order, including the racial order. Hillary Clinton once asked a room full of white people to imagine how they would feel if police and judges treated them the way African Americans are treated. If the police patrolled white communities with the same violence that they patrol poor black neighborhoods, there would be a revolution.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us