With the recent, dramatic and unexplained increase in police brutality, many police forces are requiring their officers to wear cameras on their vests at all times so that cases of physical abuses of power can be recorded. Most of these cameras do not come equipped with microphones, however, resulting in a growing number of law enforcement officers to instead verbally abuse suspects with the same amount of brutality as physical force would have.
“I guess it started with him calling me names,” says Brian Watkins, a 30-year-old mechanic charged with verbally assaulting a police officer. “I was not speaking; I did not do anything to provoke him. And then out of the blue he starts calling me names. ‘Nerd,’ ‘freakazoid,’ ‘poop breath,’ things that really get to you.”
Watkins is not the only one. Other men have come forward with similar stories.
“I was just walking down the street, minding my own business,” says Dave Peterson. “Then I start hearing the racial slang. ‘Cracker,’ ‘whitey,’ things like that. I turned around and it was a police officer, but what shocked me most is that he was white. And I’m white. He was being racist against his own goddamn race. At one point he told me that it was a slow week and he had to abuse someone in someway and I was just there.”
Many city officials have begun drafting plans to have microphones attached to the vests of law enforcement officers as well, but most speculate that the truly racist and motivated members of any police force will take the time to learn American Sign Language if it means being able to abuse or talk down to someone.
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