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Over the last few weeks, police brutality has taken the spotlight in US, after yet another unarmed black man was gunned down on the streets of America.

Of course, the police justified it in the way they always do, and claimed that Michael Brown – the man who was gunned down – was a criminal who had just robbed a store and threatened officers, who then claimed their lives were in danger.

We’ll return to that later. However, this is only the latest in a long line of police brutality incidents.

Just days after peaceful protesters marched across America, and a couple of riots broke out, another unarmed man was shot down by police.

At the same time, hundreds of police officers across the UK were accused of sexual assault – according to a report which was itself drafted by a chief constable.

This coincided with the government’s announcement that convicted criminals in the UK will now be allowed to join the police.

Effectively, what we see transpiring across both the US and UK is a complete lack of accountability in the forces, and a campaign to recruit more officers who have committed an offence.

Essentially, we are seeing a slow transition into a police state.

However, there are still a large number of people who believe that for the most part, that police actions in these cases are justified, and that they are simply protecting themselves against a few rogue criminals.

This is a perception encouraged for the most part, by the mainstream media, which attempts to present many of these high-profile cases as simply, a black and white issue.

In actual fact, it is anything but. Whilst those on the receiving end of much of the police violence in the US and UK are from black and underprivileged backgrounds, police brutality is something that should concern and could potentially impact us all.

Below, we document a number of cases and reports – some published by the forces themselves – which help to shed a spotlight on the everyday realities that many are unfortunate enough to live through.

Death by cop

The shooting of Michael Brown and the choking of Eric Garner has been the topic of much debate, primarily in the US lately.

Like many of these cases, they highlight the deeply ingrained racial and economic divides between different communities in the country.

The media to some extent has encouraged the public to take sides: you are either for the police, or against.

But the truth is a little more complex than that.

Let’s take the Michael Brown case for instance.

The media has repeated the falsehood that the man who has been identified as Michael Brown had attempted to rob a store, before he was finally apprehended by the police.

In order to prove the point, video photographs were released which appeared to support claims that Brown had been violent and aggressive to the store owner in Ferguson, leading to the store owner to call the police.

When apprehended by police officer Darren Wilson, the story given is that Brown then refused to cooperate, waved a gun around, and was subsequently shot as a result.

However, this has not only been contradicted by witnesses – but crucially, by the store owner himself.

Recently, the owners of the store announced that they didn’t think Michael Brown was even the individual who stole the item from their store.

They should know after all – as they were the main witnesses in the event and the ones who were supposedly shown being threatened by Brown.

Speaking through an attorney, the store owners claimed that the St. Louis County police department issued the warrants to confiscate the hard drive of surveillance videos. The warrants were issued based on the police claim that Brown “fit the description” of the person in the video.

This was the person who the owners and employees of the store did not even see fit to call the police on due to the pettiness of the alleged crime. The owner clarifies that neither the management of the shop, nor any employee has ever identified Mike Brown as the suspect recorded in the surveillance video.

The idea that Michael Brown was robbing the store was an assertion made by the police alone.

The video included below clearly features an interview with the owner, who was abruptly cut off when he tried to explain this.

This leaves the question: just who was Michael Brown? Who was the person featured in the video? Why have the store owners been ignored by the police?

A larger question remains: what is the real agenda here and is this case what it appears to be?

The actions of law enforcement, and the decision to ignore the alleged victims in the whole case by both the police and mainstream media, raises more questions than answers.

Another wave of protests took place across the United States over the death of Eric Garner, who died after being placed in a chokehold.

Garner, 43, died on July 17 while he was being arrested for selling untaxed cigarettes. He was heard telling officers he couldn’t breathe several times, before suffocating to death. A medical examiner later said that he died of a chokehold, a move that is banned by the NYPD, and ruled his death a homicide.

Despite this, a grand jury refused to indict officers involved in the case.

Violence by police on the rise

Earlier this year, statistics published by the Salt Lake Tribune revealed that killings by police officers outpace gang violence, child and drug abuse.

In fact, the rate of killings was surpassed only by drug and gang violence. Chris Gebhardt, a former police lieutenant and sergeant who served in Washington, D.C, and in Utah said that these instances of deadly force cannot all be written off as criminals trying to abuse the law.

He added in an interview with the newspaper: “There is an absolute time when you need to go hands on, need to taser them, need to resort to deadly force.

“But there are really less times than what’s going on. There’s an opportunity to de-escalate more of these situations. Officers instead are escalating these situations themselves.”

Brian Buchner, president of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) agreed.

He told the Salt Lake Tribune: “[It’s] where force may be legally justified for an officer, who, but for their bad decisions and bad tactics, wouldn’t be in that position to begin with. There may be issues involving the officers’ decision-making that are worth noting and may be problematic.”

Meanwhile, in Denver, a video surfaced showing Denver police officers tripping up a pregnant Latina woman face first into a pavement and then repeatedly pounded her boyfriend’s head.

KDVR investigative reporter Chris Halsne noted that a close examination of the video showed Flores’ head repeatedly “bouncing off the pavement as a result of the force” of being punched by the officers.

Photographs of the man then emerged showing his head soaked in blood.

Levi Frasier witnessed the event and recorded it all on a tablet. Be told KDVR that the police that during the incident, an officer turned and looked at him and shouted ‘Camera!’

His tablet was then confiscated and police demanded to know which program he used to record the video.

He was then threatened with imprisonment if he did not “co-operate”.

When the tablet was returned, the video had been deleted, he said.

But Frasier said that officers did not realize that his video had already been automatically uploaded to cloud servers, and he was able to retrieve it when he returned home.

Police brutality in the UK

A quarterly report published by Essex’s Police and Crime Commissioner Nick Alston revealed the rise in the number of rape and sexual assault accusations against police.
Between 1 October 2012 and 30 September last year, 852 complaints against Essex Police were finalised, with 9.5 per cent upheld.

Commenting on the findings, Mr Alston said: “Some of the matters being investigated both under the supervision of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and by the Essex Police Professional Standards Department are of deep concern.”

Her added: “Some of these cases have concluded, and have led to action in the courts and to the discipline, including dismissal, of Essex Police officers.”

The report also unveiled cases where a high number of suspects suffered broken legs, missing teeth, dislocated fingers, and in some cases even death after their encounters with the police.

In one incident, a man’s false teeth fell out during an arrest, and when he reached out to grab them an officer allegedly stamped on his hand, breaking at least one finger. Another officer was investigated after indecent images of children were found on his computer, while one staff member was investigated after sending emails to a colleague containing obscene images.

Some ongoing investigations are being carried out into the rape and sexual assault of suspects. These are just a few out of hundreds of complaints levied against the Essex Police Force alone.

Mr Alston added that the findings are broadly in line with figures recorded at other police departments across the country.

Convicts to join police force

The UK government has unveiled new plans to allow convicted criminals to join the police force. The College of Policing, which sets standards for the profession, has unveiled plans to boost the number of candidates who have been convicted of drug possession, or received fines or cautions.

It will set out a relaxation of the current rules – which ban anyone with previous convictions, cautions or fines in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said he had grave concerns about the move, and added that there are no shortages of qualified candidates, without convictions available. He added: “The public need to have the utmost confidence that police officers are of the highest calibre and integrity and I have serious and grave concerns about anything which could undermines that.”

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