By Vladimir Gladkov
Accusations of racism have been pouring on American policemen lately. In an apparent attempt to prove that any form of racial, age or other discrimination is completely alien to them, law enforcers handcuffed a 6-year-old girl in Milledgville, Georgia State. Salecia Johnson was taken to a precinct in handcuffs and put into a cage after going into hysterics at a primary school. The girl reportedly threw books and toys around the classroom in a frenzy. One of the objects hit the teacher.
Although Salecia’s behavior hardly matches school standards, the response was absolutely disproportionate. Nevertheless, local police chief Dray Swicord stood up for his subordinates, saying that they had acted within the law applied to all offenders irrespective of their age.
The U.S. police have come under heavy criticism in recent months from rights activists, mass media and ordinary Americans over the brutal handling of public protests, including Occupy Wall Street actions. Many people complained about unjustified police violence. In California, a veteran of the Iraq war, Scott Olsen, sustained a severe injury when police attempted to break up a peaceful demonstration. In another development, policemen used pepper gas against demonstrating students in Santa Monica, California. As a result, 13 demonstrators sought medical aid and three others were hospitalized.
The death of a black teenager, Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by community watch coordinator George Zimmerman near Orlando, Florida, in February sparked a nationwide outcry. What was particularly appalling was that authorities tried to cover up the killer by spreading false reports.
Trayvon Martin’s case brought back to light many other stories showing American police in an unfavorable light. These include a police massacre in panic-stricken New Orleans during the 2005 flooding and the shooting of a black war veteran on the doorstep of his New York apartment last year.
People’s trust in police has fallen dramatically. Quite often, it’s representatives of ethnic minorities and the most vulnerable social groups that are physically abused by police. Naturally, far from all policemen are like that, but each such incident raises big doubts about police’ ability to ensure law and order.