In June 2015, Linn Washington Jr., reported problems in the police department of Philadelphia, focused on the tragic case of Sharif Anderson, who was a victim of police brutality and injustice in 2013.
In July 2013, Anderson, a Philadelphia resident, caught the attention of four city police officers for video recording an arrest involving some of his colleagues in front of his house. The arrests Anderson recorded allegedly happened after one of the officers verbally abused Anderson’s colleagues while ordering them to move a bicycle that was on the sidewalk. On discovering that Anderson was recording, the officers proceeded toward his front porch and told him to stop. After Anderson denied the policeman’s request, they rushed him and intentionally destroyed his recording device. He claimed that the police then attacked and shot him twice with a Taser. Anderson was charged for assaulting police, but in fact the officers assaulted him. In Anderson’s words, “A cop claimed I bruised his hand in the midst of him pummeling me.”
Fortunately for Anderson, video recording police officers is not deemed a crime in Philadelphia. However, Washington reports, “prosecutors reflexively accepted police claims that disorderly conduct – not videoing – precipitated” Anderson’s arrest. When the Philadelphia Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division (IAD) reviewed the case, they determined that the officers had not physically abused Anderson—despite the fact that all of the eyewitnesses contradicted this conclusion.
Of course, Anderson’s case is not the first instance where someone was wrongfully arrested and physically abused. As Washington reports, the City of Philadelphia is currently battling a number of civil lawsuits related to wrongful arrests.
Washington links the cases of Anderson and others in Philadelphia to larger, national patterns. In these cases, police officers aim to justify use of force by saying that people resist arrest. But use of force is just one of the ways that officers abuse their authority. As Washington writes, other, less blatant forms of abuse “comprise the daily indignities endured by thousands of mostly minority people across America.” In turn, the abuses “ignite intense ire against police, particularly in poor and/or non-white communities.”
As of March 31, 2016, there has been no corporate news coverage of Anderson’s case with the Philadelphia Police Department.
Source: Linn Washington Jr., “Tasing and Bust of Videotaper Shows Abuse of Blacks is Just Normal Cop Behavior,” Thiscantbehappening, June 1, 2015, http://thiscantbehappening.net/node/2772.
Student Researcher: Maggie Do (Citrus College)
Faculty Evaluator: Andy Lee Roth (Citrus College)